Tuesday, March 31, 2009
A line of people
”A line of men/women” is a popular concept in shops and restaurants around China.
What happens is that you enter your shop/restaurant and are greeted by 15 (+) people (standing in a neat line) shouting something like "welcome to our shop/restaurant!” in choirs.
I personally don’t know what the whole deal with the line of such a large amount of people is supposed to represent, but I can only guess that it has to be related to showing that this shop/restaurant surely has a lot of waiters/shop assistants available to look after You. Although… those times when I have entered shops/restaurants and walked passed the ‘line of people’ I have felt completely uncomfortable and unnatural, as I’ve felt that everybody are observing me quite closely (the worse situation is those times when you walk into a ‘line of people restaurant’ during early lunch hours and you’re the first one there. Talk about starring contest). Maybe this feeling is different if you are a Chinese business man, however, and enjoy walking through a throng of pretty waitress women closely observing you? (and some of them, I believe, are not even waitresses, but simply pretty hostesses). Because there has to be some point of it all, right?
Anyways, I thought this concept was limited to restaurants/shops only, so imagine my surprise when I went to the gym the other day. As usual, I took the elevator to the third floor, and when the doors opened and I walked out I was greeted by a loud ‘WELCOME TO OUR GYM!’ I literally flinched, as I wasn’t expecting 10 (+) male and female trainers (and receptionists I am sure?! How can they afford to have 10 trainers standing on a line all night during peak hours? Aren’t they supposed to actually…. Train people?!) to be standing there firing off their best smiles to me. “Uhhhhh…. Not the gym TOO?!” Was the first thought that came to my mind as I made my way to the changing rooms.
But the ‘line of people’ I believe, is a concept that is going to stay in China for a while. Many restaurant staff, shop assistants, yeah, well even the guards in our complex meet a few times/day, stand on a line and shout/sing cheerful songs in order to ‘get into the mood’ (?) for the working day ahead. I’ve also seen a few shops/restaurants having their staff doing some tai qi –like morning exercises, something that I actually find really good! I wouldn’t mind having a compulsory 20 minutes of morning-must-do-exercise every day at work before I sat down in front of my computer… although then I am trying to imagine all the ‘important’ people working at Ikea in Sweden standing in a line and doing their morning exercise every single day and that image goes down the drain.