土曜日, 11月 22, 2003

Culture clash

It was something straight out of a Lonely Planet book:

My postdoc boss and I were in the darkroom in a different part of the med school when we heard a distant buzzing. When we returned to the lab through the connecting corridor, it was obviously our building's fire alarm. So we dutifully hurried downstairs--straight into a circle of irate policemen.

In between yelling at us for coming out of the building thirty minutes late (the alarm had been on for that long) and yelling at us for not acting terrified, they informed us that such loitering could be punishable by jailtime. My postdoc was obviously upset and reacted in the typically Chinese fashion: she smiled politely at the policemen.

They, of course, thought she was amused and yelled louder. Her smile widened painfully. They yelled even louder.

In the end, we explained that we were in another building entirely and never heard the alarm. It took much longer for the policemen to calm down. The entire affair could have been avoided if someone'd bothered to read any travel guide.