Have You Been The Angry Foreigner?

I’m keeping up with Pigs In The Toilet, the serialized travelogue of a former EFL teacher’s past journey through China; Jeff has now made it out of the oddly-pleasing Chengdu and is ready for the Three Gorges boat ride. On the way, he’s confronted with an Angry Foreigner: himself!

Come on, spill the beans: have you ever been the Angry Foreigner…when you’re sure someone’s messing with you but you really can’t figure out how? Jeff’s transformation into the Angry Foreigner may have had some mitigating factors, but I’ll admit it: I’ve been the Angry Foreigner when I’ve had no one to impress but myself. And you know what? Sometimes my rudeness and/or temerity has surprised even me!

Well, okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve had my moments. I don’t think I put the fear of death into the Budapest ticket inspector who fined me after I accidentally validated the same ticket twice (it really was a mistake; I’ve lived there – I know they check all the time! I was leaving on my way out of the city and even had extra tickets…) In case you didn’t catch the full story, I didn’t even have a measly 10 € / 2500 Forints on me; Mr. Inspector wanted half the money without a receipt while I went to an ATM. No way! Another, taller and more overbearing ticket inspector strolled by when he heard our “heated discussion”…and then stepped away! Perhaps he realized that while I sure sounded crazy, I wasn’t a physical threat to the lucky inspector who got to deal with me. (By the way, I left without paying a deposit and returned to pay the fine.) Like Jeff, there was a fast-approaching deadline looming for me – the train I had a ticket for.

I also played the Angry Foreigner in India on a few occasions, generally with little to show for it, and most notably with a tout who wouldn’t go away in Shimla . To be fair, it was a couple of days after I’d spent the night – well, as much of it as possible – in a hospital in Rekong Peo with either food poisoning or mild altitude sickness which involved my face, hands, and legs going numb and breathing trouble as well as some other more obvious signs of sickness I won’t mention here (followed by a near break-up after a train-or-bus argument with the then-boyfriend), so I was not in fine form.

You’ll have to read Pigs In The Toilet Part 19 to find out how Jeff’s Angry Foreigner episode ends; in my experience, while there may be situations where it seems like the way to go, it’s usually good to avoid this technique, especially at work, where you need to deal with people again. But I think we all have our moments…