Vacation Journal: Entry #7
While walking to the beach yesterday I came across a car window decal that read “Hamburger University.” (I sadly did not take a picture of such because the couple was getting out of the car at the time and there is a fine line between photo op and trying to explain to two people in almost certainly the wrong language that you were not casing their Smart car.) At first my mind did what it does when it encounters one of those horrifyingly realistic Victorian-era dolls before it dives into the uncanny valley and tried to explain the decal away. “Of course,” my mind said, “Why wouldn’t Hamburg have its own university? After all, it is a large and historic metropolis.” But then I realized I was saying “Hamburg,” not “Hamburger,” and so that attempt at rationalization quickly fell apart. Later I wished I had followed the couple to see if they would spend their day testing various ground beef with an eye for clarity, nose, legs, or whatever one does on when critically assessing patties or if after four years of intensive meat study they had abandoned their academic pursuit altogether and become strict vegetarians. Later I also realized I could easily look up “Hamburger University” online and probably discover it to be a well-established and well-respected institution of higher learning, but by that time I had already written 95% of this anecdote in my head and so that just wasn’t going to happen. (NOTE: I looked it up. Turns out it’s the training facility for McDonald’s employees)
For a good part of my life I was pathologically shy, unable to speak in public and completely incapable of looking anyone in the eye. Hence I almost never took pictures of people out of fear, out of embarrassment, and out of the very strong belief that by doing so I would irrevocably destroy someone else’s day. (“We were having such a lovely time, perfect even, until this little mute boy showed up with his camera and before we knew it our lives lied in ruin.”) So instead I would just take pictures of animals and architectural sites, making it look like I had gone on holiday with a schnauzer or I-beam. Fortunately, I have gotten much better over the years. However, I still find it difficult to take candid pictures of people I don’t know, feeling as if I’m intruding on personal business. That is why I yesterday I didn’t take a photo of a French man on the beach wearing a beret for what very well would have been the most stereotypical shot ever captured on digital. I did momentarily wait to see if an Italian would drive up on the sand in a Vespa or if a Spaniard would appear in swim trunks and full toreador regalia, but alas neither showed up.