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谢迈克在中国 » Blog Archive » Three interactions

谢迈克在中国

Mike Shecket Goes To China!

Three interactions

March 9th, 2008

  1. I was on a crowded subway in Shanghai. On the plane from Guiyang, I had listened to a ChinesePod lesson that explained how to really, really politely offer your seat to someone. So, when I was about to get off the train, I noticed that there was an older gentleman, not elderly, but distinguished, who was standing right in front of me. So as I stood up to get off the train, I gestured to him and said “nín zuò (您坐)”, which just means “you sit”, but with the formal “you”. The guy was absolutely delighted. He smiled and put his hands on my shoulders and repeated back to me as I stood up, “nín zuò!” Then, in English, “thank you!”

  2. One night I was at the expat hangout bar, South Park, and there were these sort of hip-hop dudes hanging out. I don’t know why, but I think this guy I bumped into might have been Japanese. But anyway, I was headed for the outhouse/hole in the ground that passes for a restroom at this place, and in somewhat broken English this guy said “where are you from?” And I said “America”. (You tend to say “America” here more than “the US”, “the States”, “the USA”, and so on because “America” sounds more like the Chinese word for America.) And he responded with this whole thing, it was like…”Yeah, American dream, East Side, West Side, one love” and he made these sort of hip-hop gestures. Amused, but totally out of my element, I thought for a moment, and then I gave him the V-sign and said “Peace.”

  3. The other day, I went shopping with one of the other teachers. We bought a whole bunch of stuff, and took the cart down to the street to try to catch a cab which either of us could usually do without too much trouble. But for whatever reason, we weren’t getting a lot of them to stop, and when we did, they were not very receptive to negotiating what we thought was a fair rate. So there was this security guard guy working for the store who observed our pitiable attempts, and he came over and asked us where we were going. We also indicated to him how much we were looking to pay. He flags down a cab, and starts a rather vigorous discussion with the driver, which is soon joined by another fellow working for the store. We just stand back and let them do their thing. Finally, the guard nods to us that it’s OK, and the driver pops the trunk. Just as we’re about to load our groceries, I see the guard slip the cabbie 10 yuan. That’s a lot of money for somebody with that job in this town! So we finish loading up, I pull out my wallet, and I fish for a 10 of my own. But as soon as the guy sees me doing this, he runs up the drive back towards the store. I burst out laughing, and later, in the taxi, my fellow teacher and I concluded that it was probably well worth the money for him in terms of face to help out (show up?) the laowai.

One Response to “Three interactions”

  1. Mike

    Mike,

    I arrived to this site via a link at Chinesepod. May I suggest that in situation #3, maybe he was just returning a favor (to a unknown stranger) that he had once, in a similar situation, received. This is how good things get passed along. This is how your act of kindness on the train gets duplicated again and again. To simply see this as a self-interested act is to negate the possibility of an even greater gesture; that he was passing along, in his own way, a gesture that has its roots deep in time and can be found in any corner of the world. I have discovered that compassion knows no bounds; unknowingly you might have been witness to just such an act.

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