perjantai 8. elokuuta 2008

The Land of Smiles, was it?

You probably have heard that the Chinese government has published an instructions booklet to help people to get ready for the big O. Instruction include things like "do not spit in public", "smile to people", ladies that have too thick legs should were black stockings to hide that imperfection. And taxi drivers should avoid excessive amounts of garlic. Good points, I must say.

This is actually something I've meant to blog already for some time now. Have you heard about the "Land of Smiles"? Yes that's right: it is Thailand, NOT China. For example the grumpiness of
shanghainese cashiers is world famous, and it is not a legend, or at least it's a living legend, not a dead one. The other day I went to the supermarket and forgot I was in China. I smiled to the cashier-lady. She looked at me like I was crazy and dropped my change to the counter. I gog there all the time, I know they recognise me already, cause they actually might speak to me (didn't happen in the beginning). In the same market I would have wanted to buy some better quality salami, which is behind a counter. There was also a lady behind that counter, but she was sleeping. Not just resting, but sleeping. She did not budge in spite of my coughing, so I decided to let her sleep. Who would wanna wake up in the middle of a dream.
And this is one of the "better" supermarkets. (There is one actually good one, where they might even crack a small smile occasionally.) Or the taxi drivers, who at the beginning, not so much anymore, where grudging and muttering when I didn't give them a written address but wanted to say it. If there is a long line, and knowone to oversight, you can count on that someone will try to bypass. Truth to be told, it is actually not as bad as I had imagined! There is not a change people would let others get out of the metro before rushing in. And the same mentality shows sometimes in the office: if you can blame someone else for something, and maybe gain some appreciation, maybe play a colleague off from the next opening management position, go for it. All that matters is me, me and me.

Another example of the good manners and respectful behaviour are the "guards" striding in the hallways of the malls. Twice I have witnessed a scene I would not imagine to see in, say, Finland. An old lady had fallen, for some reason (didn't see that part) in the mall. She had spilled something from a cup that she had been holding. It looked obvious that she wasn't very wealthy, but didn't exactly look like a hobo either. The old lady could not get up, even she was trying. One of these guards, who obviously felt very high and mighty, was standing by and yelling to this lady. Not bothering to help her up, just yelling. I was on the other side of the mall, couple of stares up, but I so wanted to go and help the lady and tell the guard to just bugg off.
Just couple of days ago then, another small, elderly lady had some bigger paper bags (you know those that all the high end brands give when you shop), and the bags were full of other paper bags. And she was in front of the side door of this mall of ours, so outside even, surrounded by four guards, talking, half yelling, something. And I don't know what it was all about, but what ever it was, I don't think it was necessary for the guard to kick the bags the gramma' was holding. And not just once but twice. I was so astonished I could just stare.

Also, it is not very rare to see a couple fighting on the streets or other public places. Usually it goes so, that the Chinese lady is pretending to cry, is yelling to her husband or bf, and is slapping him. Sometimes he slaps back. Of course you have that in other places too, but usually only when it is closer to 3 or 4 am in a Sunday morning, and there is alcohol involved, which doesn't make it any better, but less common, and less scary, 'cause these people here appear to get aggressive anytime and anywhere. That's the common scheme, but I've also witnessed many other incidents. Like this one time a young(ish) lady was trying to take a chair inside of Starbucks. Why she wanted to take the chair in, I don't know, but it all ended up as a fight between the coffee shop worker and this lady. Her bf was wathing from couple of meters aside.

Well, after all this, I think I should give them some credit too. Firstly, if the people need you, they are very polite. The shop assistants in the shops are totally different than the employees at the supermarket. (I think they may have partly provision salary, actually, they are that eager to help.) The massage therapist, or the people at the restaurants are nice to you. The delivery guy will bow you three times and thank at least as meny times if you let him keep a 5 RMB (50 euro cents) change. The people at work who maybe don't need you, but don't want to rub the auditors the wrong way, are also very polite and behave well. And then there are individuals, like my colleague, whom I named "Kevin" if I don't recall wrong, who just have nice manners and are friendly and help, even without payback. Luckily I have met also those people often enough to keep my faith that the most of them (chinese) are nice.
Even if it doesn't always show...

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