It’s interesting, as a sorta-kinda-writer-type-person, how much travel accidentally hones your observational skills. aside from the obvious, just like, paying more attention to what’s around you, because it’s new and interesting.
I’m a massively insecure person with a shit-ton of social anxiety even when I’m in my comfort zone, if such a thing exists (aside from “alone on my computer with the door locked”), always afraid of doing something “wrong,” or looking stupid (sounding stupid, usually), or just wasting people’s time and taking up too much time and space (I wrote a poem about it once, even). So, especially in a place where I don’t speak the language, I find myself paying such close attention to what others are doing in order to mimic.
Particularly on public transport, when everyone’s usually in some sort of hurry; we’ve all been late for something and stuck behind someone who doesn’t know how to get through the turnstile, and even though most of us have been that person at some point or another, it’s still aggravating. So I always hang back a bit, try to see how people put the ticket in, or where they swipe their pass, and try to casually do the same.
I was thinking about today because I was at a restaurant (Golden Tikka in Prague, which was fucking amazing for like 200 czk, aka like 7 or 8 euro or usd and I’m still full), and restaurant etiquette is mildly different from the US — not much, but you often aren’t seated and just grab a table, and your server isn’t going to be checking on you every thirty seconds because they don’t have to fawn all over their customers to make a living wage like the stupid US restaurant industry — but it also varies a bit restaurant to restaurant. And for some reason, despite the fact that I have never actually had a shitty or rude experience in a restaurant here, it’s particularly stressful for me, to the point that my anxiety actually won out over legit hunger and I just didn’t fucking eat.
Anyway, I noticed that the waiters didn’t seem to bring the check to the table, and the customers just went up to the counter and paid, which of course sent me into shit-how-does-this-work mode (because, like, obviously the waiter would be livid if I just, y’know, asked… ??), and found myself paying close attention to shit I’d never usually notice — did the waiter bring the check, did the customer bring it up with them? Has anyone paid by credit card shit is it cash only?
I hate that about myself (among other things), my meek passivity and unwillingness to take up space, but it is kind of interesting to kind of… observe the way it influences my own observations.
And yet of course, I regularly almost (or not-so-almost) sprain an ankle or fall on my ass because I’m incapable of observing that there’s a fucking step down in the street or wall in front of my fucking face.
Anyway, less introspection and more cool photos of foggy Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge later. Tomorrow morning, bus to Slovakia!