June 1, 2008


As my parents found out last week, if you're white and walk around certain sections of Shanghai, people will swarm you trying to sell you things. I mean, literally, swarm. I deal with this every day, as a big concentration of these hucksters is outside the S&T metro stop (because there's that underground market there).

For awhile, I would practice my Bu yao on them. Occasionally I would switch between that and Mei you qian. Then I moved to ignoring them. Then I began occasionally telling them Wo ting bu dong Yingwen, which means "I don't understand English." That gets some fun reactions out of them. I guess it's plausible though, because I could be Italian or whatever for all they know.

But that's getting boring, so it's time to switch it up. The next time somebody approaches me about something, I'm going to ask if they have chickens for sale. If they act confused or say "No," I'll say, "If you don't have chickens, I don't want to shop. "

Or, alternatively, I could start responding with "Don't you think the weather is nice today?" Or something completely off the wall, like maybe "The British are coming!! The British are coming!!"

Oh oh oh I got it -- I'm going to ask my co-workers how to say "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" in Chinese.

Or start saying "Sorry, I can't understand your German. Can you please repeat that?"

Or just start asking them for money. "If you give me 70 kuai, I'll buy a watch from you." Hahaha. Actually, I like that one the best :-)

You see where I'm going with this. I bet if I let my brain ruminate on the possibilities for awhile, I can get some interesting reactions from these people. I'm not like, angry at them or whatever. They're just doing their job. But they're annoying, and if I can change them from annoying to entertaining, why not do so?

Plus, it'll give them stories to tell.
"Today on the Bund I tried to get this tall white guy to look at my catalog, and he started screaming something about chicken brains!! Then he said he wanted to sell me a washing machine, and walked off."
That's me, you know, always thinking of others :-)

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