Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Interesting/painful conversation overheard at a Starbuck's cafe.

Western man (with a high pitched voice) and a western girl meet, obviously for a job-interview-purpose (even though the choice of venue is a bit odd):

Man: Lovely to see you again.

Girl: Hi, nice to meet you too.

Man: I have to say I prefer the way you dress today compared to last time. These clothes are so much better on you!

Girl: Oh, really? well.. thanks?!

Man: Yeah. Last time you looked all business. But today you look more hippie-travelling girl. I like that. I like that a lot.

Girl: OK... well.. good.

Man: You know, too many uptight people here. I love the hippie travelling girl. I love the hippie- travelling lifestyle.

Girl: Oh... so you have done a lot of travelling? (I could tell on her voice she was keen to move away from discussing her clothing style)

Man: Me?! Well yeah! You know, I have been here for a long time. a LOOOONG TIME! Like... really long.

Girl: How long?

Man. FIVE years. Like. Five whole years.

Girl: Yeah, that's a long time. Have you travelled much?

Man: OF course. Thailand. I love the beach. LOVE THE BEACH. And then Japan. I really like Japan. REALLY like it.

Girl: Anywhere else?

Man: No.

Girl: OK.

Man: So you're interested in this position....

(start talking about the position which has something to do with sales and marketing and then goes onto talking about HR managers and contacts? In fact, I am not too sure. Even though many of you will find it hard to believe -I tried not to listen in too much).

Man: So do you have many HR contacts here?

Girl: A few.

Man: Well, I have my own system. My secret system. In there I have one thousand of HR managers listed, only in Suzhou.

Girl: One thousand?

Man: Eh... no. Actually... I think I have more like... two... no.. THREE THOUSANDS of HR managers in my system. 

Girl: That's a lot.

Man: Yeah. And you know what? I don't enjoy meeting all of them. In fact. I HATE meeting all of them. I hate meeting people that I don't want to talk to. And most people I don't want to talk to. But that's my job. I have to do what I have to do.

Girl: Yeah...

Man: So how is your Chinese? Obviously, since I have lived here for five years, I am....

* * * * * * * * *

At this point I couldn't take it anymore but turned on my iPod. This foreign man just happens to be the most loud and obnoxious man that I always tends to bump into, and if he sits somewhere near you at Starbucks, the chances of you hearing every single word of his conversations/ phone calls/ interviews/ business meetings are quite high. Because he is S O L O U D !

Although yesterday I sort of didn't mind it. It was kind of entertaining. Especially him telling the girl she looked like a hippie-travelling girl?! Oh lord. I almost felt like jumping in and saving her!


Anonymous said...

I've known guys to pretending to be hiring as a way to meet girls. Or even if they are genuinely hiring, they so rarely get to meet girls they make the most of it. I'm just saying .... obviously the discussion was completely inappropriate. I think he'd get in trouble if it was in the UK! Was she attractive?

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed reading your blog. this one is very funny

Anonymous said...

Wow, very interesting conversation there. I wish I could be there and evedropping on them. Maybe I can even record their conversation and posted it on YouTube. I know some laowais are just darn obnoxious when they are in a less well-developed foreign country. They are very loud! Have you ever heard some American tourists say "In America, we blah blah blah.... Do you have blah blah blah...?"

Anonymous said...

You know, I know it would not have been cool to jump in and save her, but I kind of wish you had, just for the mental image!

I was in Starbucks yesterday as well. I don't often go there (not because I don't like it, it's just not on my regular route) and had cocoa and a croissant -- naughty but delicious! :) Now, where are my trainers . . .?

Jonna Wibelius said...

Woai -it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case when it comes to this dude. He's always at that Starbucks, but who knows, maybe that's his hide-out where he creates his 3000 (+) secret list of HR managers in Suzhou... She was cute. And didn't look travaller-hippie at all.

Anonymous: hehe.. yup. I have heard that one. At various places. Often in China. And in London. Maybe next time I'll bring my recorder.. just in case :)

Flyingfish -hehe, that's so funny.. Yesterday I had a scone and a hot chocolate... and then I felt a bit bad as I wasn't going to the gym that very day. I made up for it today though, 1 hour 10 min at the treadmill. Maybe I deserve another scone now? ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonna I'm planning to go to Suzhou next week from Shanghai but I've been told its close to impossible to get train tickets (return) now because of the coming CNY holidays. Is it true? Also how do you usually get train tickets? Thanks a lot.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Anonymous: The CNY is def making it a bit harder to get train tickets, but it is not impossible to buy a ticket from SH-SZ still. I mean, there are loads of train running between SH and SZ every day, both D-trains (the fastest ones), the slower T-trains and also N-trains. If you aren't too specific about what time you want to go u should be able to get a ticket. Before you used to be able to buy a ticket 7 days in advance but now I think it is only 5? (because of the CNY) Not sure... u should check at the station.

U can buy train tickets straight from the Shanghai railway station, or, u can use a ticket agent. I only know the agent I used to use when I lived on Shanghai: on Ulumuqi Lu, near a large KTV bar. If you are working in SH your secretary (or Chi workmates) should be able to help you order tickets over the phone however, and then you can get the tix delivered to your office... so there are many ways to buy train tix! It's def not impossible. Enjoy Suzhou -don't miss out on Tiger Hill! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jonna for the info on train tickets!

Little Tiger said...

Make sure you don't wear any hippy-traveler clothes in case he might start talking to you! :)

Anonymous said...

There must be some other meaning to HR Manager. Human Resource Manager doesnt make sense in the context used here.


Anonymous said...

In Suzhou Starbucks a popular place for for Interviews, Business meetings or a whole day's lurking on one cup of coffee. Too bad we have no better choice!