This little episode captures something I’ll see over and over again in Yemen. Faced with a problem, you find out who is in charge, escalate to the highest level of authority present, and communicate your sincerity by vigorous yelling. There is always a phalanx of sons (and presumably a similar, hidden number of daughters) who can be deployed as messengers, sent on errands, or otherwise made useful. Everything is done with a level of verbal vehemence that would involve grief counseling and possibly lawsuits back in the United States. People are able to operate at emotional temperatures that would melt down an American.

If you asked me what I had witnessed, I would say angry people with guns had nearly come to blows over handwashing. But of course it’s just me who is miscalibrated. This kind of thing, repeated constantly, is how everything gets done in Yemen.