Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not being forgiving

Just as I was getting back into my life in Shanghai (as I wrote earlier this year: coming back from Australia to China was a bit of a shock and gave me the “post holiday blues”) I had to pack my bag again (this time with winter clothes and UGGs instead of flip flops and summer dresses) and head to Sweden for work. It was a long and painful airplane ride where I was seated next to a Chinese man. He travelled with a HUGE hand luggage (not kidding, it was the size of the suitcase that I had checked in) and when he tried to put it in the overhead locker I could sense a disaster.

-Can you please be a bit careful? I said. My stuff is also up there. You will crush it with your bag.

-Huh?!
He looked like me as if I was an alien.

-Your bag is too big! And please be careful with my stuff! I said, a bit annoyed.

To this, he snorted. And then he started muttering that “you should be more polite to Chinese people!”

His comment really hit me. There I was, trying to save my stuff, and coming across as a RUDE laowai! Gosh, had I crossed the line? Maybe I had? I don't want to be considered rude (I hate rude people!) so I decided to apology and then spent the rest of the trip trying to be extra nice to him in order to mend the rocky start.

So, when he realized he didn’t have any headphones I handed him mine. When he was out of water he got my bottle. When I had to ask him to stand up so that I could go to the toilet I was careful to excuse myself and thank him about 1 million times. Do you think any of this helped? Oh no.

When we landed he hit me in the head with his mega bag when he tried to take it down.

-Aoooch! I said and rubbed my head.

He said nothing. I think he even smiled.

So much for trying. Oh well, at least I didn’t have to suffer from a bad conscious for maybe being too rude at first on that trip. But some situations are obviously not meant to be saved.

Anyway, now I'm in Stockholm and I just had a shower in hot, clean water (not to mention water pressure)! Ahhh.. heaven! Now sitting here, blogging in a central heated flat that is so comfortable heated that you can walk around in shorts and a t-shirt. Farewell, dry skin! Oh, and I'm drinking tap water! LOVE IT! Sure, there's a lot of ice on the streets out there bit so far, so good.

14 comments:

SHUO said...

hehe, I can tell that you were seious annoyed. Hope that you chill out in your own country and welcome back to "suffer" again in China.

Jonna Wibelius said...

I def don't suffer in China! Just because I was having a bit of a hard time to adjust after Australia doesn't mean I was suffering. I wouldn't live in China if I didn't want to -it's as simple as that! But honestly, who is 100% happy all the time? One is allowed some down time every now and then.

George said...

What a rude and unpleasent person! It was only a simple and reasonable request from you, if he's not okay with it he could just simply say "Sorry, I can't really..." or if he is nicer might say "I'll for sure.", but what's to do with being polite with Chinese people, it boggles me. I would just say "Please be more considering with Swedish people too!"

But anyway, new year is soon,let's forget all the unhappy stuff, and 春节快乐!

Don said...

I don't believe you fell for that excuse. He was a boor and would say anything to get his way. If you were Chinese he certainly would not say that? To find a Chinese man with a cultural chip on his shoulder, you won the prize. Anyway you did your best in a bad situation. I would have certainly either ignored the remark, or told him loudly that he should be a more courteous person.

Chinese travelers can be extremely rude. They will never see you again, so they do not give a hoot what you think or do. You have no guanxi with them so they don't care. On top of this you are a laowai. Some Chinese believe they are superior to laowai.

http://www.dontai.com/wp/

P.S. (delete this after you read it) I've tried leaving comments using "Name/URL" and they seem not to get posted. Maybe there is something not working with your blog software?

Anonymous said...

typical ethno centric behaviour...

why bother...

Flickaströdel said...

A very tricky situation. If it was me, I would have not said anything. Your initial warning did sound a little rude, not only to a Chinese person. But of course your concerns are justifiable. I think it was a lose-lose situation anyway :(

flyingfish said...

George has it right! Or maybe, "why only Chinese people?"

Here's hoping you have a great trip back to China to make up for the nasty trip in the other direction.

And, as George said, let's forget the unhappy stuff and start fresh with the year of the hare. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, Jonna! Seems like you could really use it just now. :)

Hans Engnell said...

The question is: why are they even allowed to take those gigantic hand luggages onboard the flight? It's the same thing every time and I've never seen anyone else but the Chinese having such big hand luggages. They should simply be told to check in their bags, period.

Yang said...

I think moral of the story is don't be nice ... gets you nowhere :(

The last time I was on a plane I was talking and the dude in front of me turned to face us and told us to stop talking ... to appease him we did stop talking ... but continued to chat using our phones typing out texts saying what a rude guy he was hahaha.

Sarah said...

hey the only thought i had was maybe he was emigrating... and was bringing all of his important belongings with him on this trip. So that would explain the need for the big hand luggage. You didn't say what age the man was... but I would guess perhaps 35? It's quite often for men who are 35 to get a business visa to come to Europe and stay there for maybe 10 years.. and save money and go home to china

mantse said...

the discrimination always coming from perception.

i would like to say sometimes people not going to forgive their own self what only they care on.

you left your plane and left your bad feeling there.

Wish you have a Happy Lunar New Year of Rabbit~~

yan+starla said...

What do you think of this?
http://netflixwatercooler.com/post/2975032884/sweden-great-and-wonderful-country-for-visit

Anonymous said...

There are a number of things you could have done better.

1)Don't instruct people without first saying "I am very sorry to bother you".

2) Give a clear reason why you have deliccte stuff in our bag "I have egg shell procelain from Jingdezhen" of "five pieces of hundred year eggs" or whetever you like.

3) After he sits down give him your neame card and your are not anonymous to each other any longer. He can probably not insist on being anonymous with you.

4) If in trouble with fellow passenger it is often best to communicate via the flight stewardess.

pilgrimchick said...

I'm sorry the guy was so rude--rudeness certainly crosses cultures, borders, and faiths.