Walking is Hard

Like most countries with a strong British influence, New Zealand is a left-hand traffic country.* Before I came here I thought, how quaint. It will take me a bit of time to adapt but I'm sure by the time I come back to the States I will think it's weird to drive on the right side. WRONG. I almost die every day.

It's a fundamental culture clash. Cars are coming at you from the opposite direction that they've been coming at you your entire life. You feel like their sole purpose is to murder you at high speed.

Here's an example. You're driving to the petrol station when your favorite Taylor Swift song comes on the radio. You're distracted for ONE SECOND when you pump up the volume and tweak with the levels for a premium Swift experience and BAM!!! You're motherfuckin' DEAD. Sorry, Taylor Swift doesn't play in heaven cuz she's still alive and you're motherfuckin' dead.

You think I exaggerate. You try making a right turn in a left-hand traffic country when it's pitch black out and raining. Come talk to me then. Oh wait, that's right. You won't be able to. Because you'll be DEAD.

And that's just driving. Walking is something else altogether. In NY, drivers are super afraid of hitting pedestrians. In Auckland, if you made the decision to walk or ride a bike, you made your bed and you're probably going to die in it.

Two things happen to me when I'm about to cross the street here. The first is I suppress a fart, because I fart when I'm nervous. Totes kidding? The second is severe performance anxiety.

Perform poorly as a thespian, you get bad reviews, the show closes. Perform poorly as a lesbian, nobody knows what that means except for this hilarious woman and other lesbians around the world. Perform poorly as a pedestrian, you're roadkill with no one to blame but the sociocultural phenomenon that makes Kiwis value a driver's right of way over a pedestrian's.

I had a nightmare that I was waiting to cross the street, but I was naked and Liam Gallagher was there and he handed me a miniature chalkboard and said, "Here, solve this differential equation while crossing the street or me mate's gonna shoot your mum in the face and Oasis will get back together."

Okay, no, I didn't have that nightmare. But what a great illustration of my fear of street-crossing.

Last night I walked to a discount liquor barn with two ladies from the hostel. We each got a box of vodka (cuz we'z classy bitchez) and started walking back. One of the girls dropped her box of vodka in the street and got hit by a car while trying to retrieve it.

Okay, no, she didn't. But she easily could have. And the New Zealand authorities would have had to call her parents and tell them their daughter was killed and this is what was in her possession at the time: a BOX of VODKA.

I just thought that was funny.

Ciao bellisimi,

The Great Hanini

*Apparently, in olden British times people used to ride horses and carry swords on their left hip. Other people started getting super pissed off whenever they were walking down the road and their head got chopped off or they got slightly dinged on the forehead, so the knightly/chivalrous thing for the horse riders to do was to stop doing that and switch to the left.

The US used to be a left-hand traffic country until 1776, when we split with the Brits and distanced ourselves from their uncoolness for raping our natural resources and taxing us without representation.

Some people say driving on the left is actually safer than driving on the right, as most humans are right-eye dominant, and driving on the left allows you to monitor oncoming traffic better. I say those people can go fuck themselves because they're idiots and they deserve to die.

Okay, no they don't. But wouldn't it be awesome if a whole group of urban planners, traffic engineers and automotive manufacturing executives just up and died at the exact same time and a crackpot team of special ops were put on the case and the whole investigation lead back to this blog and I was arrested for wishing ill on these by-and-large innocent people living workaday lives? No, it wouldn't be awesome. Because killing people sucks big-time and I'd feel downright conflicted about my newly-discovered telekinetic powers when really I should be overjoyed about my newly-discovered telekinetic powers.

Hmm. This gives me an idea...



I'm going to write a sitcom pilot called "Hostel Takeover" or "Hostel Territory" or some such punny thing. I envision it being something like Fawlty Towers meets Melrose Place. Basically, lots of miscommunication and lots of vengeful sex meet to make Primetime gold.

I'm not exactly a pro hosteller, but I've stayed at quite a few and I'm starting to notice a pattern.

There's the popular guy (popular because he's perfected the art of persuasion (in case you came here to learn something today, all it takes is a small amount of peer pressure and a large handle of vodka)); the weirdo who smells like mothballs cooked in concentrated scalp oil (whenever s/he enters the common room, everyone scatters); the hostel ho (self-explanatory); the hostel Mommy (also self-explanatory, that's weird); the coma victim (it's a sign of the apocalypse if you see this person awake); the interminable cold/flu sufferer (often British); and the German (often interchangeable with the weirdo (sorry Germans, you're a lovely people but you kind of scare me with your dark abyssiness)).

Guess which one I am? The answer will be revealed next week, after I get my first abortion in Auckland.

Just kidding. Obvi. They don't just hand out abortions like candy here. I have to wait at least 6 weeks for an appointment. The upside is, it only costs $25! We Americans need to get on that socialized medicine bandwagon ASAP.

Anyhoots, I was making a puttanesca in the hostel kitchen the other day when this German girl came up to me and said, "Wowww, an American who can cook!" like I was a manatee knitting a tea cozy. Then she said, "But you're not really American, are you?" I didn't know whether to feel flattered or slap the shit out of her doughy Deutsch-face. Yes the fuck I am American. But she was trying to be nice, so I said "Thanks," because I'm American, and Americans are polite as shit.

Guys, listen up. There's a stereotype out there about us. Besides being geopolitically ig'nant, we don't know how to cook because we eat McDonald's everyday.

Mmm. McDonald's.

If you're going to travel and you want to meet and befriend the locals, learn a few simple recipes. Stop embarrassing yourself. Because you're not just you, you're us (US) too.