(Yes, this may be potty humour, but it’s potty humour with cultural insight!)
It’s normal to see signs posted above the urinals in Tianjin public washrooms, usually encouraging people to be more 文明 about it (civilized). Last June we gave high marks for humour to a moon landing-inspired urinal slogan: “One small step forward (for a man), one great leap for civilization.”
One year later, we’re back with the potty humour courtesy of the trendy and expensive E-Mart shopping centre, which is located across the street from the brand-spanking-new Olympic stadium. This June’s urinal slogan gets high marks for subtlety and for giving the urinal user face. Plus, it comes with a story! Rough translation below.
A sick person complains in tears to a doctor, “Doctor, every evening my neighbour’s dog barks incessantly, I’ve already not slept for three days, it’s driving me crazy, what can be done?”
The doctor calmly explained. Over the last few days, this person both looks for a doctor and is clearly […more distressed?…] than last time. The doctor asked oddly, “Your face is even worse-looking than last time, could it be that the the medicine I gave you wasn’t useful?”
The sick person said, “Oh, it’s not like that at all. Dear doctor, it’s just that no matter how I use whatever method, my neighbour’s dog just won’t eat the sleeping pills you gave me!”
Take one step forward, you’ll be able to see more clearly
医生很平静地说。过了几天，这个人又去找医生而且 显然比上一次…悴。医生很费解的问：”你的脸比上次 更加难看了，难道我给你的药不管用吗”
So they address the problem is an indirect way, preserving the face of the target audience in the process. Of course everyone knows what it’s really about, but that’s not the point. The problem gets addressed and we can all still pretend there’s no problem.
I realize that potty humour is a little crass, and it’s also not very polite for me highlight embarrassing aspects of our host country. I’m justifying this one on the grounds of cultural insight (specifically, the method of dealing with a problem), and because public washrooms, like the traffic, are one of the most shocking parts of the experience for visiting foreigners.
Olympics here we come!