So I was at some cafeteria type place inside of a tourist shop, and I needed a drink of water. There was a freely-accessible water dispenser near the wall. On a separate shelf, somewhat farther away, there was a stack of disposable plastic cups, with this sign.
Fine, I thought, I’ll buy a plastic cup for 10 dollars.
I motioned to a nearby staff person to come by, then held up the stack of cups with a 10 dollar coin, signaling my intent to purchase a cup. The staff person just kept saying “沒有、沒有” to me. As far as I could tell there was no other word before or after the 沒有. Anyway, she refused to sell me a cup.
What does 沒有 mean in this case? Clearly, the cups existed, and they were for sale, so 沒有 didn’t make sense to me.
I had been riding a bicycle up a long road to reach that spot, and was sweaty and dehydrated (my fault for not bringing a water bottle, I know). Maybe I should have collapsed on the floor first, and then they would have let me buy one! I considered making a paper cup out of some scrap paper I had in my bag, and using that to collect water from their water dispenser, but I wasn’t quite that desperate.
I suppose that maybe the real reason is that they wanted me to buy overpriced drinks from their bar instead.
That could make sense. Actually, I did manage to speak one sentence in Chinese as the staff person was saying 沒有，沒有 to me. I managed to ask, “不行嗎？” to which the answer was again 沒有，沒有 (not 不行), maybe emphasizing that there was no water to be had, rather than prohibiting me from buying the cup itself.