Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Day 2 in Shanghai: Getting my Money Back

This blog entry has to do with what happened before our day's tour got started at 9:00. It's not that the day was bad--we had a two hour bus ride to a remote village to check it out, and then went to a pretty good acrobatics show in the evening--it's just that when you're getting over jetlag, you're wide awake at 4:30 in the morning and end up getting a lot done then.

I juggled for a while in the lobby of our hotel. The night guard was very impressed. Then I went and ate breakfast, then I blogged yesterday's entry. Then, since we still had an hour left, it was time to go back to the shop where I had bought my cheap watch (with my retinue in tow, I wouldn't go alone for this kind of mission) and try to get a refund.

I knew going in to it that this would be a difficult prospect, especially since I didn't actually know the word for "broken." The only one we learned that was close was "broken into pieces", but considering the state my watch was in, that came pretty close.

We found the shop, I told her that she had sold me a crappy watch and that I wanted my money back, and thus began a half hour argument with a lady I barely understood in an effort to recover my 8 kuai (about $1.15). I think that her argument was basically that I had left the store and all sales were final, and my argument--in broken, half-intelligible Chinese--was that she had falsely advertised the watch. She said that of course it was a crappy watch: it was 8 kuai! I told her that that didn't mean anything to me since I was a stupid foreigner and that she shouldn't have told me it was a good watch if it really wasn't. We went back and forth, which was tough since I usually only got about 20% of what she said, and 95% of that was from her hand motions. She ended most of her statements with "right?" Well, I knew I disagreed, but didn't know why or how, so I would reply with an angry "Mm" sound and a slight shake of my head. Occasionally other customers would come in and she'd ask their opinion, but they never said what they thought.

Finally I told her that it was my first day in China and she shouldn't have sold me a bad watch because I didn't know what I was doing then. When she heard it was my first day in China she softened up a bit, and so when I told her that I did kind of want to buy a little notebook to write characters in and she should give it to me because she owed me 8 kuai, she said she was willing to give me a discounted price on the notebook. I told her I would pay the 2 kuai she offered for it, but she would have to take the broken watch (which now displayed the time about an hour ahead of what time it was). She said she didn't want the watch, I said I didn't either. I gave her the 2 kuai, then put the watch into her hand too. She threw in on the floor, I smiled tersely and said thank you, and left. On balance, it was basically a 10 kuai notebook, which is pretty expensive, but maybe all this experience at arguing in Chinese was worth it.


mom said...

I'm laughing too hard to type.

Vickie LaClare said...

Hi Will!
I had fun reading your blog --your mom and I talked about how our kids are benefitting from their adventures in TJ still--way to step out and take risks!

Madjuggles said...

I hope you have a great time, and I'm glad to hear you taught the guard to juggle!

Keep juggling!

Madelyn Dinnerstein

david said...

thanks for inviting me into this mostly family conversation. I enjoy your posts, I wonder about your roommates and the program you are all? in.

Wo bu yao is the expression I learned in Shanghai. Those wheely guys followed us for several minutes while I was looking it up in the phrase book


Giblin said...

I am extremely impressed that you were able to argue in Chinese and come off with a sense of what was going on!! wo juede wo gen ni de zhongwen bu cuo (or something like that...)