Museum Musings: the Five Senses

My inspiration for this blog comes from my blogging buddy Val (Of Absurd Old Bird) who recently wrote a post on The Five Senses.

After I read her post I wondered whether a visitor to the Museum would experience all Five Senses, and what about me, standing behind my cash register, do I experience any?

"Bryn with 'Mona L' and 'David'"

1. Sight:

A visit to the Museum is all about sight: the people come to see the ART, I see the people.

Orange shoes

They show me the latest fashions – you may be interested to know that women are wearing bright-colored running shoes.

You know the bench opposite me? When I watch the folks sitting there, most of them don’t notice me. I sometimes feel like a fly on the wall watching a couple having a fight, a kid whining, a man picking his nose.

2. Touch:

Every visitor knows to never-ever touch the art work, but what should I do when an Asian tourist wearing one of those white medical masks wants to buy something?    Why is she wearing a mask? What if she has something contagious like SARS? I don’t want to touch her money, remember I don’t wear gloves.

”]https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/63/US_Navy_060614-N-9076B-162_Patients_don_mask_and_began_their_walk_up_a_ramp_to_medical_treatment_facilities_the_U.S._Military_Sealift_Command_%28MSC%29_Hospital_Ship_USNS_Mercy_%28T-AH_19%29.jpg/240px-US_Navy_060614-N-9076B-162_Patients_don_mask_and_began_their_walk_up_a_ramp_to_medical_treatment_facilities_the_U.S._Military_Sealift_Command_%28MSC%29_Hospital_Ship_USNS_Mercy_%28T-AH_19%29.jpgYesterday at a Satellite store a Japanese student who was wearing a medical maskbought three postcards at my cash register. I wanted to give her the postcards! For three postcards I may get some contagious disease… !

Each register has bottles of anti-microbial hand sanitizer that “kill 99.9% of most common germs that may make you sick“. I rubbed some on, and when it dried I put on more, and rushed out to wash my hands at my lunch break.

I woke up today with a thick head, runny nose and much sneezing…

3. Sound:

A Museum is a very quiet place, most people whisper in the galleries.

It’s silent until a kid throws a tantrum, someone smashes a painting,  presses the alarm in the elevator, or opens an emergency door. Yesterday the emergency door opposite me was opened six times which meant the alarm was set off six times, but only one kid screamed all day.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about a tourist who smashed this Gauguin painting in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

4. Taste:

In all the years I’ve worked at the Museum a visitor has never offered me a chocolate, but on hot days I’ve often been paid with notes and coins covered with melted chocolate.

A painting or a photo of food can make one hungry, but I still don’t understand why fast food is so popular in this country.

File:Hamburger sandwich.jpg The menu at our cafeteria includes salads, three daily soups, meat and vegetables,  interesting sandwiches, but I’ve noticed that most people seem to favor the burgers, fries, deep-fried onion rings, and hot dogs.

Just this afternoon the man who made my espresso at the coffee cart said to me, “I’m Philippino, I don’t understand why the French and Italian and German people all eat rubbish like hotdogs? I thought they ate good food in their countries?”

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that’s the reason I’m asked: “Excuse me, do you have tums or something like it?”  [for indigestion]

5. Smell:

 for this section, I share something I wrote several years ago

while covering a lunch at the Children’s Store yesterday
a middle-aged woman walked in,
looked me up and down, and said
“There’s a bad smell in here.”
I squirmed, safe behind my cash register.
“You don’t smell it?” she insisted
What did she want me to say?
Did she have any idea how rude she was?
“What’s that smell?”
she interrupted the couple choosing a book for their baby,
“It smells mouldy,” said the young mother
“I think it smells like wet socks,” said her husband.
The woman glared at me, and walked out.
What?
Did she think I hadn’t bathed, or that I’d farted?
Tourists always fart in the museum
they’re all constipated, because of the junk they eat.
Pooh, it’s disgusting
when someone leaves a smelly gift at a register,
because we can’t run away
or open a window to air the place,
we have to carry on as if there’s no ‘problemo’.
“It smells like skunk in here,”
is how my co-worker, David F once described it.
Last month, on an extremely busy Sunday afternoon,
a large group of school-girls dressed in their matching gray uniform
bought the same tee-shirt,
I checked the drawers under the display units for overstock, but
the store was packed, I had to squeeze between the students, and
was down on the floor at their feet
when one of those girls farted
right into my face
which was directly behind her bum.
Oh my god!
I don’t know what junk food this girl had eaten,
her stomach was *rotten*,
it smelled worse than skunk, but
as my mouth was open
I swallowed it –
her disgusting stink.
My stomach heaved, my mouth filled with bile
I dropped everything and ran outside
thankful for the breeze
so I didn’t vomit.
I don’t know who she was
I didn’t see her face,
just the gray skirt of her school uniform.

school uniform

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About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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18 Responses to Museum Musings: the Five Senses

  1. souldipper says:

    So now I have a better idea of what you see, hear, taste, smell. Smell!
    What a horrid experience – flatulence…in your face?! Yuk.

    I’m all for those colorful shoes. I was looking at the gentleman’s very attractive legs. Very shapely.

    Hope you are fast asleep, Rosie. It’s after 11:00 pm.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Amy,
      I was in bed when you wrote your comment. Thank you for your concern.

      You know when someone’s off-gassing in your face like that you can’t call it flatulence. Flatulence is something you speak of at the doctor’s office. When you swallow someone’s “gas” it can only be called one thing, and that is a *fart*.

      When I asked to take the photo of the woman’s shoes her male companion wouldn’t step away, but insisted on having his shoes in the photograph. Too funny that you noticed his attractive legs…

  2. Priya says:

    I wonder if this girl had been eating “burgers, fries, deep-fried onion rings, and hot dogs” all the time. My sympathies with you, Rosie. You say you wrote this poem years back. I hope the shock has receded enough to let you remember it without having to gag. Ugh! of an experience.

    Oh Rosie, notes and coins covered with melted chocolate? Whatever are they thinking?

    I agree with Amy. The legs of the gentleman are well exercised. And I like his shoes better, too.

    That painting of Gaugin’s is something that stirs up a lot inside me. I loved it the first time I saw it, and I still love it.

    Why are the little girl’s skirts like maxies?

    Hope your cold has vanished.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Priya,
      I think the girl’s stomach was blocked up from eating several days worth of junk food.

      Of course you noticed that I’d written the poem some years ago. To be honest I still gag thinking of it, but I also laugh.

      I was going to dedicate this post to my friend Edith who was still working at the bookstore that memorable day. She didn’t know what was going on, because instead of getting all the small tee-shirts out of the drawer for her, I suddenly ran outside! She was most sympathetic and supportive at the time, and only laughed when I laughed.

      And of course you noticed the little girls’ skirts. Hah! It does look weird doesn’t it? I couldn’t ask – it would’ve been rude – but I think it’s to save money. Instead of having to buy new uniforms every year, their parents bought the skirts several sizes too big.

      Most people don’t realize that a bar of chocolate in their handbag will melt on a hot day… Next time I’m handed chocolate covered coins I’ll take a photo.

      I still have the cold. Coughing, and losing my voice. I drank lots of ginger tea today.

  3. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    I must say those orange shoes are way too bright for my taste, I just couldn’t imagine ever wearing something like that.
    I can understand why some people do get takeaways, sometimes it is because they are faster, and can be eaten in a short time. However if time is on your side and you have the day to relax and enjoy the Museum, there is no excuse for not having a good meal. The menu sounds rather good.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Mags,
      The way the fashion industry dictates colours and styles to us and we all follow without realizing it, perhaps in a year or so we’ll all be wearing those neon colours!

      I think eating “fast food” is unfortunately a part of the American travel experience.

      Our cafeteria serves locally grown fruit and veggies, and they have a big compost pile for all the Museum’s garbage so at least its not going into a landfill somewhere.

  4. Val says:

    Thanks for the mention and for doing my ‘five sense’ here in your post, it made me smile. (Well, some of it made me smile – the farting in your face made me grimace).

    I’m afraid that, much as I like the Japanese people, if any arrived within my vicinity wearing face masks, I’d want to smack them! While they might be trying to protect people from their germs (I gather that’s why they wear them) I’d question what they’re doing out in public in the first place if they’re all so scared of passing on infection! Wouldn’t it be kinder to stay at home til they’re healthy?

    More likely you’ll have caught your cold from the schoolkids. Anyway, I hope you feel better soon. Hugs.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Val,
      Thanks again for giving me the idea of the 5 Senses 🙂 I’m glad to know you smiled at some of it.

      My nose was blocked because of allergies, which is why my mouth was open … Ugh…

      It’s not just the Japanese who wear the face masks – all Asian people do. I don’t understand why they wear them because they’re made of paper, so they don’t act as a barrier.

  5. Wow, now I feel really bad that you are stuck behind that counter! Whatever you do, don’t go see “Contagion” = the new movie. It’s really good but it’s gonna freak you way out! I have no idea why those Japanese people wear the masks all the time, but I reckon it’s because their own environment is such a wreck — particularly the air quality in Tokyo. Keep well, Rosie!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hey Betty,
      If you come visit me at my Museum you’ll be welcome to enjoy the five senses behind the cash register with me.

      Thanks for the warning about the movie “Contagion”. I’ll definitely not see something that’ll freak me out.

      I hope someone who reads this can explain why Asian people wear face masks.

  6. Reggie says:

    Good grief, you poor thing – how horrid to have been farted at like that. I feel ill just thinking of it.

    And I’d also steer away from the fast food – home-grown veggies and fruit sound sooo much nicer!

    This was such a thought-provoking post, Rosie. One doesn’t really think of all the *people* that sales assistants have to deal with every single day – and the possibility of being exposed to all kinds of germs and diseases, particularly if the visitors are tourists from all over the world.

    I do hope that someone is making you some chicken broth with crunchy toast, and bringing you lots of hot water with lemon, honey and ginger to sip, and massaging your feet, and rubbing your back when you have to cough and sneeze… You rest up properly and give your body time to recover. 🙂

    Hugs and best wishes!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Reggie,
      I really appreciate your commiserations. Believe me there’s no way to explain how disgusting it was to swallow something like that… 😦

      I’m glad to know that this was a thought provoking post for you Reggie. I wonder whether you’ll react differently to the cashiers you meet now?

      wow imagine not only being given chicken soup, hot water lemon, honey and ginger, but someone to massage my feet and back.. Sounds marvellous. I accept.

  7. E says:

    Finally the truth comes out about all those highly-cultured people visiting one of the world’s foremost art institutions!

    Well, here are my and J’s most representative memories of the 5 senses from our time working at the Museum.

    SIGHT: Two security guards guarding a fresh pile of (presumably human) poop inside the special exhibitions gallery. No explanation of how it got there.
    TOUCH: There aren’t enough paper towels in the world to supply everyone with one in order to shield them from the nasty bathroom door handles at the Museum. But no worries — most people don’t care and go on opening the doors with their bare hands just before lunch.
    SOUND: We heard a lot of things at the Museum. The one that sticks with me to this day came from an elderly docent from New York, whose name I can’t recall. He said to me, “You know what I really wish for? I wish that when people would ask someone ‘How are you?’ for once they’d reply honestly and say ‘Shitty!'” I really couldn’t argue with him about that, and every since then, if I’m doing shitty, I go ahead and say so.
    TASTE: The taste of what was…or what could have been? Cake with ants, of course!
    SMELL: I think you covered this one as well as it could have been covered. Though there were also plenty of wonderful smells at the Museum — mostly at the garden. But from inside the museum, it sure seemed to me like the bad and the ugly greatly outnumbered the good! On that note, maybe the Asian mask-wearers are on to something.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi E
      Really lovely to read your and J’s memories from your days at the museum.
      Pooh I hadn’t heard the one about the pile of shit in the special exhibition pavilion. Best part of the story is the guards guarding it. hee hee
      I’m still surprised to see people who don’t wash their hands in the nasty public bathroom.
      Was the “shitty” Docent’s name Len?
      Cake with ants – for the rest of you who read this E’s referring to the cake I ate one recess even though it was covered with ants. I wrote about it here:

      https://rosannefreed.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/the-cranberry-and-pumpkin-recess-snack/
      As for the smell, I’m sure you never thought I’d mention a four letter word beginning with “F” on my blog???

      • souldipper says:

        Seems that museums attract a curious level of non-conformists or they really have an “upstairs/downstairs” attitude!

        I also think that the Japanese are on to a good thing. In N. America we take our contagious bugs out into the public as if nothing is going on. I would love to be warned of who to stay away from…and be reminded to wash my hands after being around anything they may have touched (especially around grocery stores!). Wearing masks, in my opinion, is a sign of respect for other human beings.

      • dearrosie says:

        Do you ever really notice the cashier when you”re at a Museum?

        It’s good to hear someone supporting the Asians who wear face masks. Quite honestly, I didn’t think the masks do anything – they’re just made of paper after all!
        I watched the girl wearing mask sitting on the bench opposite me sneezing away and the spit was flying through her mask right into the air – because she thought she didn’t need to put up her hand when wearing a mask.

  8. jane tims says:

    Hi Rosie. You made me laugh!! Great post. I’ve been thinking about color a lot lately… perhaps I’ll turn my attention to the other senses, inspired by you. Jane

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Jane
      Thanks for your nice comment.

      I’m delighted to hear that I made you laugh. I look forward to reading what discoveries you make once you check out the senses.
      Some folks claim that they can tell color by ‘touch’. What about you? Do you categorize it as ‘sight’ or ‘touch’?

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