Odds and ends

There are a few things I keep intending to share but then forgetting about. Now’s as good a time as any to jot these thoughts down. Later I’ll update you on tonight’s dinner adventure. I’m bringing my camera (and the memory card for my camera) so expect more pictures!

On being annoying:
It was pointed out to me by friends/family that I might possibly be annoying to my fellow travelers. Yes, this is true. I can admit this and recognize this as a possibility (or even a probability). It turns out that knowing this does not make me less annoyed. That said, I do have to admit that EOE is probably (or maybe just possibly) right 25% of the time (more than my original estimate of 20%). I am now being very conscientious of that because I hate to argue a point and then turn out to be wrong. In order to be right most of the time I have to accept that I’m wrong occasionally so I can make corrections to my way of thinking. I can’t just assume that EOE is wrong – that means I’m wrong at least 20% of the time. So I’m giving him some margin and biting my lip more. Yes, peace is a wonderful thing. We don’t have to be at odds on every point, especially if I just nod and say “hmmm” a lot.

Also, I really want to make sure you know that I think they are both very nice people. They’re not malicious and I don’t think they mean to irritate me. It’s just the way things go sometimes.

On not speaking German:
I have a strange desire to eavesdrop on all English conversations. Some of the English-speaking folks (i.e. foreigners) seem to think no one around them can speak English. I also find myself wanting to engage in conversation with anyone speaking English. I guess after a week, it’s only normal. Still, somehow I feel that interjecting “I speak English” into their conversations might be a lot like saying “I like cheese” to strangers.

On toilet paper and toilets:
I always find myself fascinated by foreign toilets. At least in Germany I don’t have to worry about whether the toilet is “western” style or whether I’ll have to squat. One thing I have noticed is that both Germany and Taiwan have figured out how to design public restrooms with doors that do not gap. There’s something to be said for that extra element of privacy. It’s amazing that we Americans (Sherie, you’re getting close!) continue to put up with the wide open spaces between the doors and the frames. Another interesting difference is that all of the toilets here are push button (no levers anywhere) and that most seem to have on/off features (i.e. push twice for “off”). I’ve attached a picture from my hotel room toilet. I’ve seen all manner of buttons – on the top, side, on the wall behind…one button, two button, rotating button (push front half to flush once, back half to flush twice). You should all count your blessings that I don’t make a habit of bringing my camera with me to the toilet. And of course, considering E’s situation I’m grateful to have toilets.

One tricky aspect of my travels about town and country: public toilets require euros to go, anywhere from 0.30 to 0.50 euros. I really resent having to pay to go, so I try to be very strategic about potty breaks. This means I use just about every available free toilet I have access to.

One thing that has been absolutely consistent no matter where I’ve been (upscale, downscale, pay or free) is that the toilet paper is horrible. It is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s not necessarily rough, or too thin, or flimsy. It’s just…not absorbent. None of it’s been absorbent. It reminds me of 2-ply industrial paper towels (except of course without the absorbency). I’ve had to revise my whole technique and I’m still always at risk of things not going well. Sorry for being graphic but it’s not the sort of thing anyone warned me about. I will probably gain proficiency about the time I leave. If not, well…I can’t leave soon enough. I’m bringing home a sample from my hotel room for show and tell. Don’t be shy – ask to see/feel it for yourself when you get a chance (i.e. when you visit my house). I suppose I could bring enough home to send you each a square, but I would hate for you to tell everyone “Fran went to Germany and all I got was this lousy square of toilet paper.”

One other difference I noticed between US and German public restrooms (and maybe I’m just not getting out enough in the US) is that I’d never before seen advertisement printed on paper towels. I don’t read German so I’m not sure what was being advertised, but there was a website listed. I’ve seen 2 different bathrooms with different advertisements on the paper towels. I think the American marketing teams are missing a golden opportunity!

Time for me to go! I mean to dinner, not the toilet. I’ll send an update later.


About Fran Hart

Disciple of Christ, earning a living as the director of US-based operations for a Taiwanese company, managing an engineering organization while carving out time to write. Wife, Mother, Grandmother.
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