How China is making me a better person: Hygine

I’ve been a slob most of my life. I’m ok with it, actually. Slobbishness makes sense to me; the floor is where the dirty laundry belongs, at least until it accumulates enough to be washed. No mom, the fucking books don’t belong on the bookshelf because I am reading them. Yes, all ten!

Jokes aside, I am not terribly bothered by uncleanliness. Not even my own. Part of it is a sense of aesthetics; I’ve always prefered a city with some grit to it. I was a bit terrified all those years ago when I go to Stockholm and found that the trash cans weren’t overflowing. I got the impression even riots in Stockholm would be organized.

But China, it would seem has taken me to my slobbish limit. Hangzhou is in shambles, and I am not terribly bothered by that fact (minus the occasional massive pot-hole) as I am by just how boring it is. What really is expunging the slobbishness out of me is the poor hygine I see. I’ve noticed that most of my students have brushing habits worse than my own, and many of my colleagues as well. I’ve even taken to referring to one of my coworkers as “Halitosis (first name)”, though never to her face. I am tempted to, particularly the considering this is a person who likes to mock me for preparing food at home and bringing it in to work.

I’ve seen people pick their nose, clip their nails, clear their throat, and spit in public, indoor places. These aren’t things you see people do anywhere else in the world. But that isn’t even the worse. Public urination is endemic, and mothers will hold their children aloft as they urinate in the street.

I shudder every time I think about it.

And that still isn’t the worst, because you will be on the metro when a mother lowers here infant sons pants, picks him up by the armpits, rushes to a trashcan, and hold him over it so that he can shit there. For everyone to see.

Sure, but those are just the people you meet on the street, right? Who knows, those people maybe from the coutryside, and don’t yet know what to do in the city.

Well, one day you notice that one of your students recently ate spinach, and still has a leaf or two of it in here mouth all throughout class. That’s forgivable, as it can happen to anyone. A week later you don’t even remember but again you see the spinach, and your brain starts to make a connection. The third week comes, the students flashes you a smile and you recall that she had as well eaten spinach the week before. During the fourth week you become convinced that she really loves spinach, and you are watching the student talk when you see a trickle of blood flow down from the spinach, staining her coffee colored teeth red. And that’s when you realize that it isn’t spinach. It’s rot.

Yes, I brush twice daily and floss before bed. Fuck with that.

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