People are funny, and mean, and moody, and mad, and hateful, and sometimes, downright stupid and ornery...
The premise of the movie "Crash" is that people move through their modern lives like cars in heavy traffic, so many all together and yet so isolated from meaningful human contact that, on occasion, they purposefully crash into one another just for the sake of the interaction—supposedly it makes the crashees feel more alive and vital. That MIGHT be true in the USA where people probably ARE more remote from one another, where human contact IS less likely to be meaningful; but in no way would that CRASH premise fly in this place. No, when people “crash” here, it’s more likely to be because of culture or frustration, or like today, both!
Today, for example, I witnessed a “little crash” between an Englishman and a Filipino. Once again, it was in the gym. It seems most of the “fun” things that happen to me and around me happens there.
A few minutes before “the collision” I was on the curling machine when I noticed a Josh Groban song being played on the stereo. I love that guy. He’s great. I was thrilled and excited to hear it. Then, a second Groban song came on, and I realized they were playing one of his albums. Awesome! I finished my current set of reps, and while I shook them off getting ready for the next set, I took a step over to the counter and asked the girl about the music. Right away she got defensive. She’s new and I have this reputation for asking the music to be changed forthwith if, and only if mind you, rap is being played.
“Oh, you don’t like this sir?” She almost looked scared.
“No. This is Josh Groban right? He’s wonderful! I love all music EXCEPT rap. Cos you know why?”
“No, why sir?”
“Cos rap is crap! And when I hear it, I just want to SLAP the SAP out of the person who plays THAT PAP!”
I said also laughing. “See, I told you rap sucks. Now do you believe me? Hey, thanks for playing this album. Where did it come from?”
“That guy over there in the corner,” she said pointing.
I went back to my machine to finish my reps and an older (than me) shaven headed bespectacled Filipino was standing there looking impatient. He asked me, “Are you still using this?”
“Yes sir. Almost done. I’ll give you the high sign when I’m finished.” I said respectfully.
He gave me an annoyed look, which is very un-Filipino and therefore I got the sense that he wasn’t from around here. Him doing that was very uncharacteristic of a local. Besides, his accent, what little I heard of it, sounded a bit American too.
A few minutes later and I found myself next to the fellow foreigner who provided the Groban music. I thanked him for bringing it in and we both agreed how utterly talented the man is. From his accent I took him to be from Great Britain and he verified that when he mentioned how much cheaper it was to buy a Josh Groban CD here in the Philippines than in the UK. He had just bought his newest one in one of the big shopping centers in Angeles City.
Not 15 minutes later and I was by the water cooler and introducing myself to the impatient American-acting older Filipino. Sure enough, he told me he had just arrived from the US two weeks ago where he had been living for many years. His name is Eddy.
I remarked, “Eddy, I knew immediately that you were NOT a local. I kind of pride myself on my observations and you even carry yourself more like an American than a Filipino.”
“Oh really?” he responded warily; “Is that good or bad?”
“It’s neither good nor bad. It’s just an observation. Of course, if you don’t like that I spotted your Americanisms within 20 seconds, then I guess that would be bad, wouldn’t it?” I kidded him. He grinned back, so I knew he got the humor.
About then I heard an angry English voice. It was my fellow Josh Groban fan and he was mad hot.
He came over to me fuming, “Some other guy working out in here doesn’t like my music and made her stop playing it,” he told me angrily.
“What! No way! Who?” I craned my head toward the counter. I couldn’t believe anyone would hate such righteous tunes to the point that they needed it yanked off the stereo; especially considering the rap crap that I’ve had to suffer through in there before.
The irate Limey pointed furiously at a younger Filipino fellow, maybe in his late 20s or early 30s. It’s hard to tell ages over here.
I shook my head feeling myself getting upset and maybe slightly enraged as well, although not nearly as hot as this guy was. I informed him, “No way buddy. The rule is that they HAVE to play out the whole CD if you request that they play it. I’ve had to suffer through crappy rap music before and THAT is what I was told then. THAT’S the rule!”
That was a mistake if I was looking to cool the dude down, because now he charged back to the counter loaded for bear.
I stood and watched the ongoing crash while Eddy spoke up to me, “You know, you guys really shouldn’t be like that. This isn’t your country. Why do you want to piss off the local Filipinos like that? It’s a huge mistake. They are NOT going to like it.”
I turned my attention to him. “Dude, I’ve been here a long time and I know exactly what you are saying. I’ve already been through similar situations where I was expected not to confront a local because I was in HIS country, and besides, I’m ALSO supposed to fear what they can do to me when my back is turned. That IS what you’re talking about, right?”
He nodded wryly.
I went on, “Okay, rationally, I know that you are right. But for many of us, a moment comes along where you just say, “NO WAY! I AIN’T TAKING THIS!” and I’m sensing that that fellow over there is having a moment like that. And besides, this gym is owned by a foreigner, a majority of the people that come in here are foreigners, and we don’t think we should have to keep kissing local ass even in here! This is supposed to be an international place, you know?”
I could tell Eddy wasn’t convinced by my tirade, and all the while I’m talking to him I’m watching the English fellow get even more riled up. He got right in the face of the Groban-hating Filipino fellow and things got so heated that the two gym boys, both big muscled fellows, were now playing the role of physical peacemakers. I’ve seen dozens of fights and I’ve seen hundreds of confrontations that seemed about to erupt into fights and I knew straight away that this one was NOT going to involve fisticuffs. They were just growling and snapping, neither really interested in tangling.
So, instead of a CRASH! it was more of a piddling fender-bender; interesting to see, but nothing worth calling the cops and ambulance over.
Just another day in “paradise...”