Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Else Can You Do About It Except Laugh?

Monday morning was my first day of class. I got up around 7:30 am, got dressed, and plucked my toothbrush and toothpaste off the counter in my room and carried them down the hall to the bathroom. There are four sinks in this bathroom. I went to the one farthest away from the door. I applied toothpaste to my brush and began brushing. After about a minute, I spat and turned the handle of the faucet to wash my mouth out. Sounds simple enough, right? There was only one problem, when I turned the handle of the faucet, no water came out. Thinking I must be imagining things I tried turning the other handle of the faucet, still no water came rushing out, not even a trickle. Unwilling to accept this, I went down the line of sinks, turning the handle of each one. Water did not present itself.

After a moment or two I realized that I still had a full water bottle in my room so I jogged down the hall with my tooth brush in my mouth to grab the bottle. I returned to the bathroom and finished brushing my teeth with the water from the bottle. As I peeked into the bathroom stalls and saw the mess people had been forced to leave in the toilets, I felt a surge of anger come over me about the situation. I wasn't so much angry about the inconvenience this was to me, but about how the rest of the residents in my dorm would act. I am the RA for the first floor of my dorm. While I love being a RA because it means I get to help take care of people, the job also has its downsides, one of which is that resident advisors tend to get hit with a lot of complaints. I don't know many Americans who are used to going about their daily routine without water so I expected I'd be met with dozens of angry residents. Just what I needed on my first day of class!

I am happy to say that I was completely wrong. As I walked down the hall and met people with soap suds drying on their legs, water bottles and toothbrushes in hand, I was shocked by the strange and unexpected reaction I got from my residents. They were smiling. Each and every person I ran into was smiling. And when their eyes met mine, we all just burst out laughing. And I mean hysterical, tears-rolling-down-face laughing, because as one resident said in between giggles, "Well, what else can you do about it except laugh?"

Some students ran over to the recreation center to take quick showers. Others (myself included) headed over to the student center for a bathroom, face-washing run. And as I ran into more and more people trying to get ready for the day all over campus, the more laughter and hilarious comments I heard.

And so for that morning, I was proud that people were able to walk across the street to use the toilet without their whole world crashing in. I was proud that people either took the trek to the rec center to take showers in good spirits, or realized that going one day without bathing wouldn't kill them. That morning, I was proud of people from my culture. I was proud that I heard laughter in abundance and not a single complaint. I was proud that people could defy my expectations and that we could all accept that crazy stuff does indeed happen and being inconvenienced doesn't mean the day should be spoiled by bad attitudes. 

Sometimes, things don't go as planned, even something as simple as brushing your teeth. It's so easy to get angry or annoyed in these situations but so much more fun to laugh and embrace the spontaneity of life.

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