Last night I accompanied my bf to a company dinner at the Shangri-La Suzhou. I've never been there before, although since I had heard great things about the food at the Shangri-La in Shanghai, I had high expectations. And, I wasn't disappointed. The food WAS indeed good! What wasn't so good, however, was the fact that our table was located beneath some violent sort of air con, who constantly pumped out cold air on us (despite the fact that the temperature outside wasn't very high). So much for putting on a fancy dress and making an effort. We all ate wearing our jackets on! I was very disappointed at the staff at the hotel. We told them about 15 times about the air con, and no one did anything about it. They just stood there, about 10 of them, musing at us in our jackets, asking if we wanted some more wine (like, when are staff that are working at five star hotels in China going to learn what is important?!) So as a result of sitting under cold air for 2.5 hours, I now have a runny nose and a stiff neck. Do I need to mention that I am furious?! I have just gotten well after a 2 weeks of the most lingering flu, and now my nose is back to running... ahhhhh it is just so frustrating?! There goes my training for the half-marathon and preparing for the university 3000m race. Good food or bad food, that was the last time I visited the Shangri-La hotel.
Anyways, a funny thing I noticed on this company dinner (which included all the highest people of the company, a lot of them coming from overseas) was how I was greeted at the Chinese staff from the local office when I walked in: they saw that I was simply a girlfriend to their work mate, and therefore no one bothered to even shake hands with me (they just glanced at my dress for a bit). After me came the daughter of the CEO, who everybody swarmed around. Ah.... isn't it just so... hilarious?!!! Chinese people must be the least discrete people that I know, they are so obvious about their actions! Insignificant person walks in: don't bother. Significant person walks in: shake hands, be nice, make small talk. I don't think I'd ever have the guts to even act like that. To me it is just common courtesy to shake hands with everybody at a dinner table.
I have had this treatment in China so many times though, that I definitely don't take offense. Especially when I worked at a local magazine in Shanghai and often went to openings, events, and you name it, this was a standard. The Chinese people at the events would ignore me, and simply focus on my editor or our magazine owner. Not until any of those two introduced me, or mentioned my responsibilities, would I get some polite attention. Chinese hierarchy. Very obvious. Very 'in your face.'