Freezing Cold and Rainy

Here’s a picture of my Reboo, the cafemateria just around the corner from my apartment.

It’s rainy and freezing cold today.

I saw this sign inside the door of the new Line 8 trains in the Shanghai Metro. It’s funny, because the sign is way up high, so its target audience is apparently tall people; wheelchair passengers can eat shit, apparently. Here’s the difference:

That’s a good six inches.

Also, the sign is on the inside, and you’d think…

Never mind. You know, I have to break myself of “logic” if I’m going to remain sane here in China.

Just the other day I was at the bank, banging angrily on the bullet-proof glass. I had already waited there for an hour just for my turn, I had COPIED by hand the wire transfer information, gotten all the right stamps, had my passport copied AGAIN, and all I had left to do was to pay the cashier, but there was no one at the cashier’s station.

So we waited, and waited, and waited, and then I banged on the window and made the international gesture for “wtf, I’m here and nobody’s helping me.” Apparently, the cashier was handling something else. Like I give a shit. The other bank staff first ignored me, but when I banged again, one lady fearfully told me she already told the guy to come back, and then scurried away without making eye contact. When cashier man finally came back, I shouted in English, “Well let’s go, baby, I got stuff to do!” and everyone looked embarrassed for ashamed of me. That man is causing a scene!

Later, my chaperone told me she was afraid of my “terrible anger.” I told her, “Good, I want people to be fearful.” She asked why, and I said, come on, are you going to tell me that only one person can take my money? IT’S A BANK.

And then a light went off in her head… Oh, it’s a bank! Yah, people should be qualified to take money! After that, she was smiling, downright happy to understand my point of view.

I think they’re pretty married to the idea that one person has one job, and it seems they have a fear of training redundancy. Who knows, it’s their culture, maybe they know something I don’t. Maybe their civilization would disintegrate if every teller was trained to handle deposits. Maybe they would lose their minds if the international wire transfer desk lady had access to, say, my account balance on her own computer screen, instead of sending me to wait for an hour for an open teller who checks my account balance on their computer screen and then stamps a piece of scrap paper. Maybe the world would end if everybody got in and out of the bank in under 30 minutes.

I am enjoying myself in China, I really am, and I do appreciate Chinese people and culture, and I know that it’s not a service-oriented culture. I get it. But if I have to watch people waste my time and fumble my money, I’m going to get hot.

3 thoughts on “Freezing Cold and Rainy

  1. JP, I love to read JP’s Banking Adventures. Someday, you should compile the best ones and do a public reading–do they have open-mic sociological observation comedy events? I read these out loud to my husband, and he loves them too.


  2. Dr. Bitch, I am an ugly Filipino American. Rekknize.

    Also, being quick tempered and unreasonable is a culturally appropriate way of dealing with other people here; since they have no concept of “embarrassment” it doesn’t make any sense to suffer incompetence.

    Being terrifying is my own personal touch.


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