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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

U.S.S. Midway: Personal Space & the Forecastle

Recently, my wife and I visited the U.S.S. Midway, a retired aircraft carrier named for the famous Battle of Midway waged six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. As we waited to board, two Japanese tourists cut in line to join up with other members of their group. They didn't ask us to move aside. They didn't tap us on the shoulder. The man simply barged past us, and the woman pressed against my back with her purse until I looked back and moved aside. Then the two lagged behind to take a photograph together. Then they walked closely behind us, the woman pressing her purse against my back, as we navigated the rest of the line.

Touring any old ship involves navigating through narrow hallways, and for some reason, the Japanese group seemed locked onto us. If we bypassed a given room to get away from them, so did they. If we stuck around an area to wait them out, they stuck around with us. The woman who had pressed into my back with her purse did so twice more during this time. Finally, we grabbed a bench in the vessel's forecastle (also known as the fo'c's'le), listened to the spiel on our audio guide twice, and waited them out. 

After the group left, my wife and I walked along the mammoth chains, each link weighing in at 140 pounds, and imagined them whizzing past us at 45-50 miles per hour when they dropped their twenty ton anchors into the sea. After that, we occasionally saw the group, but they never clung to us like roadies fawning over rockstars (or fans over favorite authors) again.

I thought it odd that the Japanese tourists seemingly had no regard for our personal space. Perhaps it's a cultural thing. I also thought it strange that people would travel all the way from Japan, and spend some of their limited vacation time to visit a naval vessel named for a battle that proved decisive in their nation losing World War II. It might have been interesting to ask them about that, had they not crowded us so, and given us some indication that they spoke English.

Dragon Dave

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