Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Shanghai’ed in Beijing

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 3, 2009


Interesting thing happened yesterday at a restaurant. A friend had placed an order for food and I went to pick it up. The funny thing was that the order was wrong and the price was too high. Not having enough money to pay, I said that I wanted to cancel the order. Easy enough right? Not in a little ma and pa type store here. The problem is that they have tons of workers, but few professionals to staff a restaurant so they are left with uneducated migrant workers to deal with these situations.

The little woman who was helping me, in essence said that she couldnt cancel the order as the bill was already made. Not having the horsepower to realize she could cancel it and keep the food to show the owner it was an honest mistake, she panicked. She didnt know what to do, called over the more senior little sprite who possessed a teeny bit more snap, and between the two of them they fought, argued and discussed the problem.

Fearing that I would have to dial the Chinese equivalent of 911 to extricate myself from the situation (remember the food sat on the table uneaten, it was a to-go order, so still boxed).  I called a work mate. Being an expert in the Chinese culture, she quickly let them know who is the boss, how to treat customers, and that this was unacceptable. Within seconds I was showered with apologies and given the appropriate order.

China is like a pizza, each subcomponent entirely divisible from the whole, but when taken alone, just not China.

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