Todd and I hang out a lot, which breeds a sort of familiarity that leads to every phrase being shortened as much as possible. For example, if one's laptop batteries were very low, the word "critbatts" might be invoked. So when we found ourselves standing outside of the VIP area of the X Games in LA, and Todd said, "Dude, let's just smash it", I knew exactly what he was talking about: the Gaijin Smash.
The Gaijin Smash is a term used to describe a certain way of operating as a foreigner in Japan. The Japanese are extremely polite and sometimes nervous around foreigners (Gaijin), so as a foreigner you tend to get your way. I think the phrase came about from some guy smashing his way through the subway barriers without paying, and not being stopped. Todd and I mostly used it to ride our hilarious fold-up bikes like maniacs.
Anyway, back to the X-Games. Thanks to my brother and his good friend Chase Hawk, Todd and I had passes to this year's event in LA. But our passes were weird: they were only meant to give us access to the skate park section of the course, because Chase was only riding the park. But we also had friends competing in the street course, so we found ourselves standing outside the entrance to the VIP area of the street course, wanting to watch them.
"Dude, let's just smash it."
We walked up to the security guard.
"Sorry, you aren't allowed in here."
"Yes we are. We have industry guest passes."
"Sorry, I was told to only let in yellow and red badges."
"Oh, I know. it's so complicated with so many badges this year. Look, our friend is about to compete right now and we came down from San Francisco just to see him. We're supposed to be up there and we don't want to miss our friend's run."
A bit of confidence in an unclear situation goes a long way. When the finals were over, we also casually climbed over the fence and walked onto the course to congratulate our friends. No one said anything. I hesitated before climbing over, only because I was scared to break a rule, and Todd reminded me, "Well, now you HAVE to do it." The last time he said that to me was when I was considering climbing through the window of a moving vehicle to surf or the roof of our car as we crossed the Bridge of the Americas in Panama.
Back when we had our 40' school bus, we would pretty frequently get pulled over by the police. The bus was in a legal grey area. We were supposed to have removed the flashing lights, it had only one seatbelt for the driver, and no one was 100% sure whether or not we were legally allowed to drive it. Police would pull us over and we would confidently assert that we were legally allowed to drive it because it had a kitchen area in it, which made it technically an RV. This was based on a real law, but we couldn't actually figure out the legality of driving the bus. The officer, not wanting to appear ignorant of bus laws, would mutter something like, "Oh yes, that's right," and let us go.
I'm a pretty strong believer that following rules for the sake of following rules is a bad idea, and that thinking for yourself is a better idea. We WERE supposed to be in the street course; we had friends competing there and if they had realized our passes wouldn't allow us there, they would have fixed the situation. The VIP section was pretty much empty, so no one's spot was being taken by us being there. Same with walking on the course at the end; doing so didn't infringe on anyone.
I have a pretty strict no-lying policy, but the one time I break it is when confronting authority figures who are enforcing rules they don't have the authority to negotiate. On the rare occasions that police knock on my RV door, I might fudge my travel schedule to make it look like I'm just passing through. If they had the authority to allow me to stay, I'd be honest and tell them that I loved SF and that I'm staying there and doing my best to be a good neighbor by picking up trash and such. Same with the X-Games security guard: if he realized we weren't technically allowed there with our passes, he might worry about his job if he let us through. By deceiving him we set ourselves up to take the blame if someone decides we're somewhere we shouldn't be, and no one is slighted in the process.
Anyway, the point is this: I believe that thinking for yourself is the right thing to do, even when you're confronted with bureaucratic rules. Do what you want as long as it's morally sound, and don't do things that go against your morals, even if they ARE legal.
To give credit where it's due, my good friend Elliot first came up with the phrase "critbatts". I love it.
Congratulations to Chase Hawk, Aaron Ross, and Sean Sexton for all making it into the top 10 in their events!
We actually DID get caught by the police for the car surfing thing in Panama. They made us pay a $20 bribe, but thought that the whole thing was hilarious.
Small meat update: there are almost NO restaurants that serve naturally raised meats. Being a healthy carnivore at restaurants is roughly the same as being a strict vegan.
Great post - confidence overcomes baseless rules. And I'm a fan of the new subscription query.
Turning 18 and opening my own bank account in a few days. Going to fulfill my promise of paying for Life Nomadic.
I totally jive with this post. I don't even pay attention to most authorities. I go about living my own life in the most ethically and morally way possible, based on my personal ethics. It makes life a lot easier and less shady, IMO.
I work on events and venue management and I seriously question your logic here.I would say 99% of the security guards I work with are decent polite people only doing their job.To somehow take pride in outwitting people who are not given power to negotiate strikes me as arrogant.
Security are usually put in place for two reasons: to protect revenue ( i.e. only people who have paid towards the cost of the event or benefit the event are admitted) and keep out the bad elements ( pick pockets, drug dealers etc).I don't have a problem with that and neither should you.
I wonder how much patience you have with people who do not benefit you trying to blag free copies of your e-books???
You are applying the no-lying policy too huh.
I've been doing that strictly for 1 year plus too.
Being in the game changed my life.
But sometimes, telling too much bad stuff about yourself (cause you are being honest) kinda makes you look bad. I gotta not tell too much then. Not telling is not lying, right? ahaaha
Awesome post. I find it hard to explain to some of the squarer people in my life that I have no respect for rules, just for doing the right thing, but that doesn't make me a bad guy.
Nice post, but reading it here after getting the notification on my rss reader is kind of annoying, because there's a big ol' thing covering a third of my screen demanding to know my email. Why isn't there a way to click an [x] and make that go away? I'm already subscribed to your rss feed, I don't need to be on an email list too!
I'm a little skeptical of this post. I agree wholeheartedly with you that "smashing" can be a good (and sometimes best) option, but I don't really agree with your thinking process in your examples.
1) "...the one time I break it [the no-lying policy] is when confronting authority figures who are enforcing rules they don't have the authority to negotiate" was hard to parse, but I'm reading it as saying "you can break rules when they don't have the power to stop you," which sounds fishy. If I'm reading this correctly (and correct me if I'm not), you can use this to justify a lot of things that are downright harmful.
2) In your RV situation, you said the police didn't have authority -- well... who would? A tow-truck and a lawyer? I'm not sure of what you're saying.
3) Your description of your X-Games smash makes your move sound not only harmless, but even generous: "By deceiving him we set ourselves up to take the blame...and no one is slighted in the process." I think this is off-base. What if you get caught and his boss is super-anal? Why would he not only punish you but punish him too? Yes, I agree that it would be a huge dick move and not all that likely, but it isn't all that unlikely either to have a real probability of hurting the guard for your personal gain. I think your justification is not strong in this case.
I myself enjoy smashing in real life when I think it is warranted, but I think we have to be responsible in their justification. In this regard, I think smashing is very similar to hacking, because they're both in that gray legal area before "crime," and doing it too much has the danger of numbing us with the idea that what we're doing is harmless before we do bigger and worse things.
I like your blog because you think clearly through most of your options and seem very honest with yourself, so I have questions about this one since it isn't as convincing (at least for me) as your usual ones.
Great story. It reminds me of the time when my friends wanted to race on the Jackie Robinson parkway.
Now if ever been to brooklyn and seen where that Jackie can lead you , you'll be stoked and petrified at the same time.
It's a high way with so many twists and truns it feels like your in the game MIDNIGHT CLUB for x-box 360.
Any way, we raced all the way to queens from Brooklyn, which led to us wasting our time at some hotel because no one wanted give up the green stuff.( cash).
Then by the end of the night we all ate at a diner and passed out at home. Well at least I did.
I say this because as i was driving i was so scared not to crash the car, i said F it, And speed my ass off, just to live a little. Even though I came dead last and everyone was laugh about how slow I was. I didn't car because i had some chicks in the car, so i didn't give a ( fill in the blank).
So that my story and your was pretty awesome also. Nice post bro.
We finally bit the bullet and bought bikes. Not just any bikes, though, hilarious foldable ones.
They fold up pretty small and are light enough to carry around.
There's a term here, "gaijin smash", which is when a foreigner does something uncustomary or illegal but no one stops them because they're all too polite here.
“I’m a bull running rockstar!”
These are the words I use to describe myself these days, but on July 11, 2012, the only words I could speak with certainty and sincere humbleness were, “Jesus keep us near the cross.” You see, before my rockstar status kicked in, I was just one person in a group of people from the Nomad.ness Travel Tribe heading to Pamplona, Spain to participate in the annual running with the bulls.
Yes, you read that right.
Led by our friend and leader Evita Robinson, our group prepared to go where very few minorities have gone. To say we were scared out of our minds would be an understatement. We were scared -- not just by the thought of being gored by a bull, terrorized from the knowledge of its own impending death, but by the fear of the unknown. There were no other black people to ask for detailed advice (although we got some help from our friend Oneika, who participated a few days before). Even watching countless videos and maps of the route and previous runs did little to squash our fears.
As we sat in our house in Madrid waiting for our bus and making small talk, you could feel the nervousness of uncertainty in the air. Even I had to admit that I was ready to punk out at the last minute when talk began of writing down everyone’s travel life insurance information “just in case.” The bus arrived and we scurried towards it. We were aware of our fate, but determined to go strong until the end. We tried to ease the thick air on the bus by taking pictures and cracking jokes, but it was clear by the bible nearby and the recently purchased rosary around my neck that our minds were elsewhere. I couldn’t hear the thoughts of my friends, but mine were loud and clear “Should I do this?,” “We are crazy! Black folk DO NOT run with bulls!,” “I can’t believe we’re doing this! I can’t believe I WANT to do this!,” “Jesus, just keep us all near the cross and help us make it out safely.”