I was very cranky this morning. One of those cross-cultural differences moments. There is someone, who I will call Mrs. X, who cleans our office. She is a nice woman, very well intentioned, but the epitome of traditional Chinese thinking embodied in a person. (She is always haranguing my boss Alex to get married so that he will have a woman to clean up after him and take care of him.) In any case, yesterday she spotted pictures I had developed from the hiking trip on my desk. "Oh, I'll take a look at these later," she said.
(editorial note: these photos were already in albums, neatly stacked in the corner of my desk, not spread out across the table.)
I didn't respond because I didn't particularly want her looking at my photos and I didn't know quite how to say it. Later, after I finished meeting with Alex, we walked over to Johnny, a co-worker. Alex noticed a pile of photo albums on Johnny's desk. "Oh, photos!" he said. "I wonder who's are these, and why are they on Johnny's desk?"
I took a closer look and realized that they were my photos, which Mrs. X had taken from my desk (without my permission), looked at them, and didn't even return them! I realize that there are different cultural concepts of personal ownership, and that Mrs. X is so set in her thinking she assumes everyone else must think the same way she does, but sheesh. Please.
To add to my general state of annoyance, last night I realized that five photos had not been printed from my negatives. I went back to the photo store this morning and pointed out their error. "Oh," said the proprietor. "The photos didn't have any people in them, so we didn't bother printing them."
Don't @!$ decide for me what should and should not be printed! If a negative is obviously exposed correctly (i.e. it's not a big blank), then print it. Just because my negatives don't have what every Taiwanese person thinks should be in a photo doesn't mean it shouldn't be printed. They are NOT the ones who should be making these editorial decisions.
Makes me mad.