Saturday, July 22, 2017
The medicine Joe sent via “express” mail a couple of weeks ago has finally arrived. Day after day, I’ve bombarded Chinese FEDEX with nastigrams such as the following:
Dear Ms. Sun;
When can I expect to receive my medicine?
Over two weeks ago, my husband paid more than 100 US dollars to send it to me. This is over 675 yuan. No company should take money for not doing what it has promised. If FEDEX was not going to take care of the order, they should not have taken our money. I believe you are trying to take care of this, and what happened is not be your fault. Still, this is not fair.
I am in a foreign country. I must have my medicine, and we have paid lots of money so I can have it.
This looks very bad for your company. People pay for FEDEX services. Please see to it that the medicine is sent.
Many thanks for your assistance.
I believe Ms. Sun got sick of hearing from me and had things expedited. I wasn’t even made to pay duty.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Of Meds and Chocolate Truffles
Two weeks ago, Joe spent a small fortune getting one of my meds refilled and shipping it here. I still don’t have it.
I have called and emailed multiple times. Here’s some recent correspondence:
I will try my level best to help you
Gateway Clearance Agent
Thank You for shipping with FedEx!
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require further assistance
The last line is my favorite.
I return to the States in less than two weeks. The meds may get here long after I am back home.
I had more luck with the chocolate truffles I transported for Iris Zhang. The ice in the insulated bag had melted when I arrived, but the candy did fine.
The plastic bottle had a picture of a cow. It didn’t say milk (niu nai), so I assumed it was liquid yogurt. It would be a good high protein drink for the train trip. Whatever it was, this was not yogurt. The creamy liquid was sweeter and tasted vaguely of pineapple. It had little lumps which were possibly tapioca.
All over China, people see the necessity of learning the international language, English. They realize Chinese is very difficult for outsiders and recognize the practical value of our language in business and commerce.
The native speaker of English is treated like a celebrity. At the train station, mothers pushed their children forward so they could practice saying “Hello” to me. One woman on the train brought me a dinner of instant noodles so she could spend a few minutes talking with me. Middle class parents purchase English lessons at mini English academies hoping to give their kids an advantage in school and work.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
An Exotic Animal
In some places, we Westerners are still a curiosity. At the Beijing Zoo, a street sweeper asked in Chinese where I was from. I answered “Wo xie mei guo ren.” (I am American). He told my friend Xiuyu (Judy) he was surprised. He’d assumed I was Russian. I can understand. While I hold an American passport, I have the top heavy, thick waisted build of an East European. My grandparents, all of them Jewish, were from Austria, Latvia, Romania, and Poland.
The zoo sweeper said “Hello,”—apparently this was the only English word he knew. Shyly, he asked if I would pose with him for a picture. I considered the pandas more photogenic but obliged. Seeing this, another man asked if I’d pose with him.
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