When I like places (restaurants, hairdressers, spas, cafes, bike shops, pubs…) I always go back. Over the years I’ve been a regular at quite a few places in London, Finland, Australia and China but I’ve never been recognized as often as here in China. Just the other day when I went to my favorite Sichuan restaurant with one of my Chinese friends. The hostesses greeted me with big smiles, and told my Chinese friend that: “that xiaojie you are with comes here very often!” Once we sat down to order the waiter came over and asked me if I wanted to have the mapu tofu, ‘just like last time.’ Big smile here too. My friend was impressed.
-You come here every day Jonna?!
-Eh… no, maybe every second week or so?
-Doesn’t look like it.
Well, I guess there are some cons with being the blonde alien in a Chinese town after all.
The funniest experience, however, I’ve had at the gym. I’ve been going there for more than one year now, and although I’ve become good friends with a lot of the male personal trainers, there has always been a chillier atmosphere between me and the reception girls.
Until one recent visit. I took the elevator up and was greeted by three smiling girls behind the counter. When one of them saw me she said:
-Oh! It’s You Na!!!
Everyone’s smiles became even larger.
-Ehhh, hello! I replied, feeling a bit awkward.
The next day two girls said:
-You Na!! Hello! When I came in, smiling as if there was no tomorrow.
Since then it has snowballed into a line of reception girls, chanting ‘You Na! You Na!’ every time I make an appearance.
Yesterday I realized that my lock was broken and had to buy a new one. I asked in the reception, and was sent over to another counter.
-Hey, You Na is coming she wants to buy a lock!!! The girl yelled to the girls at the other counter... that of course greeted me with a big smile and a:
-Hi You Na!! What kind of lock do you want?!
I was kind of overwhelmed and picked the first lock she showed me, before I asked:
-Just tell me.. why do you all suddenly know my name?
The girl giggled.
-Oh we think your name is so beautiful!!
-Oh… eh, thanks! It’s a Chinese guy who picked it for me. It’s similar to my Swedish name.
-It’s a beautiful name!
(first time I’ve been told that! I always thought my name was a kind of simple -sounds-like-Jonna-option that my previous Chinese boss settled for)
-And also.. we are all very curious about you!!!
-Curious? About what?
-Eh.. OK! Eh… well, OK thanks then! I really didn’t know what else to say, grabbed my lock, smiled and walked away.
When I later left that day the line of girls sang: ‘Bye Bye You Na!!!’ even doing the old hand-wave, making me leave with a big smile on my face.
What a contrast to the crappy customer service I got at Carrefour the other day! This beats all previous ‘regular’ treatment I’ve ever gotten before!