Thursday, March 11, 2010

If there's a will, there's a way

When I say I need a run, I mean it

I’ve had a bit of a rough week, with a lot of stuff going on, making my mood anything but stable. Yesterday I decided that no matter how much work there was on my desk by the end of the day, I would still hit the gym in order to burn some energy. I kept my promise… but just as I was about to leave for the gym a strange feeling hit me.. Did I really pack all my training clothes? I decided to have a look, and very well. I had packed all my training clothes, except for a sport’s bra. There’s no way (on earth) that I will hit a gym wearing a normal bra, so the remaining question was: could I bother going home, picking up a sport’s bra, and then head back to the gym? (It’s definitely not on the way, rather, I live in the opposite direction) However, after a moment of mental self-consulting, I decided that I very well could.

So I went home, found what I needed, spent extra time on a crammed metro and arrived at the gym one hout later than planned, but hyped about the thought of hitting the treadmill. I had dinner plans at 8pm, so I went over to the reception and asked to “rent” a towel a 5 kuai so that I could shower and head out straight after my workout. Imagine my surprise when the (RUDE!) guy behind the desk said:

-No towels today.

If it would have been any other day I might have shrugged my shoulders and left, slightly annoyed. This particular day, however, his words made me see red.

-That’s IMPOSSIBLE! That’s not OKAY! I need a towel. I NEED TO WORK OUT!

(again, I normally don’t yell at people, but…)

-Well sorry, we don’t have any.

-No, this is not okay. You always have towels. If you suddenly decide not to have towels you need to inform your customers in advance so that we can bring some ourselves! I didn’t bring a towel today just because I thought I could “rent” one from here!


-Well you have to find me a towel. I am not leaving. I need a towel otherwise I cannot workout.

-Eh.. maybe you should speak to the manager?

-Yeah, where is he or she?

-Eh… he will come in 3 min.

I waited for 3 minutes, feeling angrier by the minute. I simply refused to just go home. 

The reception guy was really annoying:

-I know this situation is really annoying… (he said it in a sarcastic way).


-Why don’t you go and workout first, have a shower and THEN come and see if we have found you a towel?

-WHAT?! How am I going to shower without a towel?! (
I wanted to say "do you want me to walk out naked and ask if you have now found me a towel?!" but I don't know the Chinese word for naked, so I left it like that)

(I guess his suggestion here was: "why don’t you do like all the other girls at this gym and dry yourself off with the hairdryer once you come out of the shower").

Then, 2 girls suddenly arrived (manager?). The reception guy told the girls they needed to find “this laowai” (pointing at me) a towel.

-There are no towels, the girls said.

-There HAVE to be towels! I know there are, somewhere! I don’t care what kind, you just have to find me a towel!

-But there are no!

-Please. Try!

The girls sighed, rolled her eyes and went away, only to come back 30 seconds later…. Carrying a LARGE, WHITE, TOWEL!

-Oh, I found one.

Oh my, oh my. At that point, however, I was too relieved to continue bitching about their lousy attitude towards problem solving, I simply accepted the towel and went to the ladies changing room.

Once at the gym all the treadmills were busy. However, I didn’t even consider the thought of giving up this workout, or settling for anything else but running. I simply located a girl who was walking along to a clock ticking down (she only had 4 min left), and I was rude enough to stand behind her and wait for her to finish and get off. A number of people realized what I was doing. Some laughed, some pointed, and some tried to sneak in between when they realized the girl would be done soon! But I was faster and once I got up there I enjoyed the best 7km run I’ve done in ages… ahhhh. Relieeeeeef!

Once I made that 8pm dinner I felt rather proud of myself and my nagging-attitude. If there’s a will there’s a way –this appeals to most of the “impossible to solve”-situations in China. It's not as if I have not been told that I "cannot run" before... 


Anonymous said...

Hey, by any chance, would you happen to have a towel I could borrow?

Brad Farless said...

I have a feeling that they had towels available. They probably had plans after work and didn't want to have to wait to wash the towels before they could leave, so they were lying and telling everyone there were no towels. They probably gave in so you wouldn't complain to higher management, and their scheme would get found out.

Just my theory anyway.

Pete In Syracuse said...

The incredible amazing jonna able to leep tall buildings with a single bound. With lazerbeam eye's able to scope out her prey & win the victory......TaDa!!!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Soap -haha, very funny.

Brad -well they did not have any towels at the counter where I asked. I forced the guy to open every single locker and show me (gosh, I was so rude and pushy). Buuuuut... they did have towels at the other counter, which I wish they would have just told me, instead of just saying "no we don't have any!" because they are too lazy to find out.

When I eventually went to change I saw plenty of women with towels, so I don't know what this was all about..

Pete -yeah...lazerbeam eyes... that's just it!! :)

Brad Farless said...

Maybe they wanted to give the white girl a hard time?

Monkee said...

I agree! I am not a pushy girl either, but when I know someone is blatently being rude or lazy, I am not going to sit idley by and let them. Usually, all it takes is a request to speak to their manager and all of a sundden, they want to help.

Do you find it hard to get good customer service over there being that you are a white woman??

胡崧 said...

I still dont understand why they wouldn't give you any towels to begin with. It literally take them 5 mins to check the other counter.

This just blows my mind.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Brad -nah, they were just as rude to everyone else.

Kitty -No, I don't think it has anything to do with me being a white woman... I think there's just no common sense of being service-minded over here, and that has to do with history. But then again, some places are completely over the top -so it is hard to say what is the actual standard. However, sometimes when my bf is with me it is easier... they are always eager to please him. Me, not so much, well at least not at first. Then after some nagging I get what I want. But I dont think it has to do with me being white or anything, they just wanna please him because they find him attractive.

胡崧 -I know. THat's what pissed me off, big time! If people try, and then tell me it is impossible I think it's OK. But simply saying no without even trying...?! Makes me see red! Love you picture btw, is that your dog?!

Brad Farless said...

From your blog and my own experiences here in Singapore, I get the impression that most Chinese don't think that it's their duty to ensure that you're totally happy as a customer. Instead, they seem to think that you should take whatever service they feel like giving you and just be happy that they're open to offer you something.

Basically, they put the onus of gratitude on the customer instead of the establishment, which is contradictory to Western culture.

DARMAN said...

I don't know why they told you that no towel. Maybe The Big towel given to you was not the towel used to be or it just being provided for you, to stop arguing. None knows, except that gym. Anyway I like the result of the story.
I agree most people can do amazing thing in urgency. The power of emergency. You done!

China Traveler said...

In China, women feel very free walking around naked in ladies locker room. This is a Mainland China thing. In other overseas Chinese setting like Taiwan, women don't do that. I was surprised to find that out years ago on a weekend student retreat with a bunch of Mainland ladies.

Chocolatesa said...

Haha go you! :D

胡崧 said...

Nah,I took this picture when I was in Li'jiang. He was by himself and looked really lonely so I decided to play with him.

My friend said he had this "holy shit, is he going to eat me?"expression on his face.

I laughed.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Brad -yeah there is no history of hospitality work like there is over here. Customer service still has a long road to go...

Darman -yeah, however.. if I would have pulled the same stunt at a gym in Sweden I bet I would have been thrown out and told to never return again!

China traveller -Ahhhh... so Taiwan is the place to be then! I am not prude but all that nakedness is way too much for me.

chocolatesa - :)

胡崧 -he's adorable! I am like you, I always take photos of random dogs and pets that I see along the way when travelling.