Saturday, March 05, 2011

The writing on the wall

On my flight to Beijing the other week, I noticed something interesting in the lavatory. Someone had taken a sharpie and done everyone the favor of writing onto the walls and doors the Chinese translations of various signs. I wondered if the United staff had taken the liberty to mod the plane themselves, or whether it had been some vigilante had taken it upon themselves to add some functional graffiti.

I had the same crew, similar plane on the way back, but early on I noticed that the sharpie characters were missing in the bathroom on this flight. Could it be that eastbound flights on United have the handwritten Chinese translations but flights originating in the U.S. and headed to China don't? That might be a bit paranoid of me and my sample size is small.

Halfway through the flight, though, while waiting for the toilet, I noticed the occupied sign turn off, so I headed to the lavatory. When I got to the door, I was surprised to find it rattling heavily with the vacant/occupied lock flashing back and forth.

I pushed the door in, and a flushed middle-aged Chinese man emerged from the toilet.

Poor guy. Those lavatory doors sure are weird contraptions.

Definitely made me think, though. We're going to be seeing a lot more bilingual English/Chinese signs in coming years. And signs that don't catch up with the times will continue to face the wrath of the sharpie.

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