Saturday, September 5, 2009

Culture Clash

I love living in Baja Sur. The beaches are the best ever, the people are generally great and the pace of living suits me. I can walk out my front door almost every day of the year in shorts and flip-flops. I suppose after living in Alaska for almost a quarter century, good weather seems important to me. It's not all bougainvillea and honey though. I hit a speed bump too hard just about every day.

The locals here seem happy for the most part. I think one of the reasons is because they have developed a thought process that doesn't allow them to get bogged down in irrelevant details. They are able to hold one thought in a row for more than a few milliseconds unlike their counterparts to the North. A friend calls this ability the "linear thought process." One of the manifestations of the linear thought process is that the users of said process don't clutter up their minds with a lot of unnecessary ideas thereby avoiding needless confusion and worry.

The problem begins when users of the "non-linear thought process,” whom we call Americans, attempt to translate their non-linear thoughts to the store clerk who uses the "linear thought process." In the non-linear thought process, we Americans randomly make a lot of assumptions based on what we think of as common life experiences.

For example, my youngest son and I were waiting at the airport one day. Micah was hungry and suggested we get some nachos. I said “great idea.” Then I remembered where we were and asked him to go check the price first. I watched as he walked over to the snack counter and asked the price. He hurried back to tell me, “They only cost 10 pesos, dad. It’s a deal!” “Great, get me some too,” I answered, and handed him 20 pesos. I watched again as he hustled through the non-crowded airport to the nacho man. My mouth had already started watering by the time he returned. He walked up and handed me my 20 back. “Hey what’s up. Where’s my nachos?” I asked.

“They don’t have any.” was his answer.

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