Apr 9, 2011

The Proof is in the Dictionary.

The "search history" function of my Ipod touch's English/Chi.nese dictionary could tell a million secrets.

It shows the ebb and flow of my language needs - the positive and the negative.

For example, my most recent searches include: pathetic, irrational, undeveloped, illogical, and cheat. Also among the most recent bunch is: dizzy, adventure, horror, stockings, candle, and moment. These are the words I did not know and needed to know at some point during my conversations this week. haha. I like living in another language, it's an adventure, but boy is it hard sometimes to rely on the handy dandy dictionary.

I often have an exchange, then return home and craft up a better response. (don't we all do this?) I use my dictionary to find a more fluent or native way to express what I already said to someone out in the world.

Last night I found myself looking up the phrase, "you are pathetic."

Hmmm....sounds not good, right? Right.

Yesterday was super busy, like all days. I ducked into the corner super market to grab some yogurt, toilet paper, and trash bags on my way home from class and before jumping on the bus for work.

My bill was 13.8rmb (about 2$). I gave her a 100 bill (15 dollars). She gave me 36.2rmb in change. The line was long and the store was really crowded so I just took my money and walked out of the store. I was about 2 feet out the door when I realized while putting my money away that I was missing a lot of change.

Now, I've had problems at this store before. I've gone off on a woman who told me she didn't understand when foreigners spoke when I asked her for a plastic bag to put my things in (you don't automatically get a plastic bag, you have to pay for one.) I flipped on her. There's no reason for someone to mentally block a person when my pronounciation is good and I only said one sentence - "I want a bag."

Anyways, the point of that is that this place has already rubbed me the wrong way. But it has a monopoly on our area in town, so I have to go there.

I marched my butt back into the store and walked up to the cashier - "You cheated me. I gave you 100rmb and this was my change." I grabbed my reciept and saw that she had put into the register that I had only given her a 50rmb bill, not a 100.

"No, you gave a 50," she retorted and pulled a 50 out of the register and showed it to me, "you paid this."

"No," I started to get louder, "I gave you a 100, I had 3 100's before, now I only have 2," showing her my wallet. I started to get upset because there is no proof that I gave her 100 because she put 50 on the reciept. I started looking around for cameras, but then decided to pull out the big guns - at this point there was a crowd watching our exchange.

"Where's your boss? Who's the boss?" I called out. "Are you the boss," I asked a worker next to me. Meanwhile, homegirl is yelling across to the other cashiers that I am accusing her of cheating and laughing about it.

When she heard me yelling for the manager she freaked out and gave me my 50rmb. "You speak good Chi.nese," she said, "Here." And she smiled at me like she knew she had stolen the 50rmb (6 dollars) from me. She put in the reciept that I paid 50, then was going to pocket the other 50. Smart crook move from someone who only makes like 100rmb a day - that's half a day's salary stolen from me!

So...homegirl thought I didn't speak Chi.nese so even if I noticed the missing money, I wouldn't be able to do anythign about it to express myself. When I went storming in there yelling for the boss and calling her a cheat, she was left with no other option but to give me my money.
I pocketed the returned money but still kept looking for the boss. Homegirl messed with the wrong foreigner.

An older lady came over to me and said she was the boss and I explained that the cashier, "is a very bad person who cheated me because I am a foreigner and she doesn't think I can count." She said some bull-crap about checking on what happened and I just pointed at the woman, told her, "You are a very bad person," and walked out the store in a fit of adrenaline.

I had my money. I made my point. In Chin.ese.

Unfortunately these incidences are increasing as I learn the language and culture and have a heightened awareness of what is going on around me.

You may be wondering, why would I get mad over such a small amount of money? Well, I'm a self-supporting student who doesn't have a lot of money and it's the principal more than the money. I believe in peace and trust, but I refuse to let bad behavior go unnoticed because I don't want to cause a ruckus (I did this too much my first few years here).

I came home in a cloud of adrenaline, replaying the exchange over in my head. If I was in America, would I point my finger in a woman's face and tell her she's a "very bad person?" No. I would say something like, "You're pathetic."

And out came the dictionary. "P-a-t-h-e-t-i-c," another new word in the vocabulary cannon.

walk slow. xoxo.

1 comment:

agapelife said...

wow, what a story.
I use "pathetic" a lot actually.