3 quickie cultural observations: Wed, Thurs & Fri
Wed., Oct 21 (Manhattan, NY) – Deli Cell Phone Keepers: One entrepreneurial deli on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen NYC is located around the corner from an average NYC public high school. The deli has started a new business in response to the high school’s ban on cell phones: cubby holes for $2. Instead of cell phones being confiscated at the metal detector, before school starts the students make a stop at the deli to hand over their mobile devices and $2 for safekeeping in a cubbyhole while they attend school. Necessity is the mother of invention, innovation and new business ideas.
Thurs, Oct 22 (Queens, NY) – Forced Wedding Tears: Historically, Chinese brides cried at their weddings because they were scared to be marrying an unknown groom and moving away. So a bride’s tears became culturally accepted and expected. But today, even as most Chinese in America marry for love, modern Chinese immigrant brides are expected to cry at their weddings. Interestingly, the culture has adapted to justify bridal crying. Modern Chinese brides in America are expected to cry so they force the tears by thinking about the “joy of marriage”. Culture can change human behavior. Sometimes a behavior outlasts the cultural factor that created it, and sometimes a behavior creates a new cultural expectation.
Fri, Oct 23 (South Bronx, NY) – Getting Loose: at-risk kids who attend charter schools in the South Bronx are often trying to break a cycle of poverty by focusing on their education. However, when they leave school and return home and mingle with the kids in their neighborhood they are pressurized to “get loose”. “Getting Loose” is the expression that means to be “free of confinement” (i.e., the shackles of school, work, jail) and to be accountable to no one. To be “tight” means to be sharp, neat, groomed and successful. Sadly, most kids don’t realize that it’s hard – if not impossible – to be “tight” if one is constantly “getting loose”. Language is culture. The language we speak shapes the way we think and see the world. Deciphering language can be the key to unlocking concepts and culture.