Vacationing in London can be a confusing experience for us Americans. The Brits drive on the wrong side of the car (right) and the wrong side of the road (left). When you ride the escalator on the Tube (subway), you are supposed to pass on the left, but when you walk on the sidewalk, you are supposed to stay to the right. Most jarring is the fact that you are expected to actually line up (or queue, as they say) for buses and tickets and such, rather than form a nasty, shoving mob of a crowd at an entrance like we do here in the states. It was all so civilized and polite that it left me in a tizzy.
Of course, if you’re British, none of this is backwards at all and you probably think Americans have it all wrong just like the way we (shudder) drink beer cold. But if you’re American, it’s all very foreign and makes you terrified to cross the road lest you look the wrong way and get flattened by a big, red double decker bus.
As if all of this wasn’t baffling enough, on this trip I learned something new about the differences between the British and us: They hang their toilet paper the wrong way, too.
I suppose it should make sense since they do everything else the opposite of the way we do it in America. Not that there’s anything wrong with that and if it works for them, more T.P. power to them. But I have grown so accustomed to my toilet paper hanging over rather than under (something I have been certain of my whole life which was scientifically proven to be correct several months ago) that I have to admit, it definitely gave me pause.
So then, while I’m still trying to adjust to looking right when I cross, rather than left, I make it back to my hotel and try to figure out what time it is when the clock says 22:00 o’clock, only to stumble into the bathroom at night, in the dark, and not be able to find the end of the toilet paper because it’s hanging under rather than over. Well that was just the straw that broke the bobbies’ back.
As a guest of someone else’s country, I wanted to be polite and not make a big fuss about this. So after our first night, I quietly swapped the toilet paper roll so it hung over and I could be assured that my nighttime bathroom visits would end happily. But the next morning after our room was cleaned, I returned from our sightseeing to find that the T.P. roll had been rehung the wrong way.
I wondered if this was one of those absolute rules in England like having to call French fries chips and if you do it wrong, they take away your right to make fun of American politics. Clearly, the hotel housekeepers thought so and I wasn’t sure how far I should push my point.
Being a pushy American, I thought it was worth one more try. So I changed the toilet paper over one more time.
The next morning I came back and found the toilet paper had been re-hung under again.
Deciding this toilet paper thing was clearly more important to them than it was to me, I decided I could go with the flow for a week and look the other way.
As long as I looked right.