Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stupid Canadians

I just had to add my own observation to Brett’s post about the helpfulness of Taiwanese people. I’ve been noticing a pattern here and I have to laugh because I’m sure it’s something that happens to non-English speakers in Canada all the time.

You know when someone doesn’t speak English so an English-speaking person will just sort of yell slowly and really articulate and even repeat themselves but to no avail? That’s the treatment we get every day. People are so friendly but I think it is sometimes because they think we’re slow!

When we first arrived in Kaohsiung I went to the ladies’ room at the train station. I walked up to the sink and tried getting some soap out of the pump. There was none left so I tried the adjacent sink, but a local woman watching this got my attention and started saying something very loudly and slowly in Chinese, and showed me repeatedly the “magic” faucets that run water when you put your hands under them. I was so embarrassed that I just ran my hands under water and smiled and nodded until she left, then I resumed my hunt for the soap.

The guy at the movie theatre who figuratively held our hands while we bought our tickets must have been thinking the same thing. He took our asking, “How do we buy tickets?” as “We don’t know the big city movie machines. Halp!”

Our server at the restaurant tonight was the same. She was very concerned that we didn’t understand the time crunch, and nudged us along by suggesting to us in Chinese that we order drinks, order rice, order more meat, order vegetables, order dessert, get free ice cream, etc. She kept saying urgently in Chinese, “two more, do you want to order more?” which we interpreted as meaning we could order two more items, then two more, and so on, but by which she really meant “You only have two hours. Do you want to order more food and actually get your value from this? Do I need to force the food into your hands?”

At least people here have been patient and sweet with us, and any attempt whatsoever at communicating in Chinese has been met with big smiles and giggles and thanks. Brett said, “zai jian” (goodbye) to a cashier at a restaurant the other day and she was so surprised and pleased that she dropped our change all over the counter. Taiwan is awesome.

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