Stop helping me already!


#1

I’m getting sick and tired of well-meaning (I suppose!) Taiwanese making decisions for me without knowing the first thing about me.

Example: I order food at a street stall. I indicate, both in Chinese and by gesture, that I do not want the food slathered all over with that brown powder. The vendor looks at me, looks at the food, and slathers it anyway. “It’s only good to eat this way,” she says.

Example: I call a landlord about an apartment in the suburbs. The landlord asks (quite reasonably) what I do and how many people will live in the apartment. When I say that I will live alone, she doesn’t want to continue talking to me. “That apartment is too big for one person. It’s way too expensive (15,000 per month) for one person alone. You’d have to get someone to live with you.”

:imp: :imp: :imp:


#2

One of my favorite stories is how this buyer I knew was try to get samples made of the alphabet and numbers on those rubber magnets, for kiddie education.

He found a vendor and asked him to make some samples with A, B, C, 1, 2, 3 on them. Since he was a tight deadline from his customer, he pleaded with the vendor to finish them in 4 days so he could FedEx them to europe in time for a meeting there. ‘No problem, leave it to me’ was the answer. On the day, he showed up at the printer’s fearing the samples would be delayed, but the vendor beamed that he was going to be very happy with the work he had done, and proudly showed him a sample set of six characters: B, M, W, 3, 2, 5…

Needless to say, his samples didn’t arrive on time and he didn’t get the order. The vendor however got some interesting bruises and lumps on his head for ‘helping’ with his uh, creative input.


#3

I hate it when I try to buy clothes and fit them on and it looks awful. Either the staff will try and convince me that it’s perfect (“No, it isn’t too tight, doesn’t matter that you can’t close that button”). Or they try to get me something else I could choose instead. How come they ALWAYS manage to choose the LEAST likeliest stuff for me? It’s as if they have a sensor for the stuff that I’d avoid looking at. Even worse with shoes.

:imp:
Iris


#4

hah, how right you are, weird “only-a-foreigner” decisions about food are always fun. in your case, i wouldn’t have paid for it, ta mei hua shuo.

i’d bet that for whatever reason your landlady had a predisposition against single ladies living in her apartment, so rather than say no, she concocted this excuse, but that’s material for another thread i guess…


#5

I go to the night market to buy something yummy for my wife, she’s Taiwanese - just a point to add to the story, nothing special about being Taiwanese, it’s just relevant. Anyway, I tell the guy that I want it spicy (in Chinese), he nods, smiles and says ok (hao). But, he thinks that the foreigner can’t handle spicy food (he’d be right, but it’s not for me), so he doesn’t put any in. I am oblivious to the fact because I’d rather not see what he’s putting in there. I take the food, pay, and go home to an ear bashing over not getting the guy to add spice. I know that food is important to Taiwanese so I always try to get my wifes food right, but this guy at the market in trying to help me gets me into hot water. My wife is lovely, but when it comes to food :smiling_imp:


#6

This sort of thing used to annoy me in China. But then, you can make a fool of yourself, too… I was ordering with a mate on a trip in South China. We can pack the food away a bit, so we got five or six dishes, rice, and then, ordered four pancakes and a few beers. A guy at the next table stands up: “Oh, no… you can’t eat that much… just get one pancake… four is too many.” So, we effed and blinded about this guy minding his own business and how we always ate four pancakes where we were from “up north”… etc. Well, we got our pancakes and, true to the local style, each one was the size of a deep pan pizza and twice as heavy. :blush:


#7

I hold the opinion that most people don’t know anything and that asking for help is usually the best way to screw things up far worse than they are already. The exception being when the helper is already known to you and demonstrably competent to offer help. Everyone else can just … you know.

eg In my first weeks in China - couldn’t even count yet - several people had failed to help me acquire a mosquito net that would actually cover the oversize bed they had supplied me with. Eventually I gave up and set out for the market armed with a pen and paper. It took me nearly an hour to find a suitable shop, explain what I wanted, confirm all the dimensions and fix a price. Then some passer-by decided to try and help, despite not speaking any of the languages that I speak, and we were bogged down again for a further 30 minutes during which we achieved precisely nothing. After he had gone we agreed when it would be ready, shook hands and three days later I took delivery of exactly what I wanted. I still have it, and I still don’t need help from people who aren’t qualified to give it.

Trying to help is one thing, but making decisions for you is quite another. My former employer used to do it all the time and often the first I knew of anything would be a deduction for ‘visa fees’ or some such from my salary cheque. I blame Confucious. Authority figures (which includes anyone who lives here where foreigners are concerned) have the automatic right and duty to tell everyone lower in the pecking order how to live. Bastard!

Finally, worse than ‘helping’ is telling me to ‘be careful’. I am sooooo tired of people who have never quantified a risk in their lives presuming to tell me that I’m doing something dangerous when I am the only one qualified have an opinion. Somebody tried to justify it by telling me that they’re just trying to ‘look after’ me, but usually I don’t need looking after. What they’re actually doing is telling me to conform to their sad little view of a dangerous nasty world in which the best thing to do is to do nothing.

So I guess that kicks Lao Tse in the head too. Now let me go away and think of something nasty to say about Buddha.


#8

OK, I like Laodz, and will defend him… so here’s an “Off Topic” warning.

Just a point of friendly contention…

In my understanding of the Dao De Jing (and I make no claim to understand correctly, necesarily), the tome does not instruct (or suggest) that we “do nothing”.

Rather than being “Wu Wei”, the principle is actually “Wei Wu Wei”. To my understanding, the idea is to take care of matters in a way that will appear that you have “done nothing”.

This can be explained as such:

Problems are like trees. That is, if dealt with early, they are easily solved and then it will appear as if you have “done nothing”. If a sapling sprouts in your yard, and you don’t want a tree to grow there, just pull it out while it is still a small sapling. However, if you procrastinate and let it grow into a mighty tree before you deal with it, you will need to cut the branches and the trunk and then dig out the roots. In the end, you will have accomplished the same as if you had simply pulled the sapling out by hand… but if you take out the full grown tree you will appear to have done a “great work”, while if you pull the sapling out by hand, it will appear as though you have “done nothing”.

Thus, the Dao De Jing might be suggesting that we “do without appearing to do” :? :wink:


#9

Isn’t the typical Chinese office mentality “try to do little, but appear to have done much?” (Except of course when there is responsibility to be assigned…) :imp:


#10

I was at McDonalds last night (LOVE me some McDonalds. Eat there every day!) when this conversation occurred in Chinese:

Me: Can you give me a couple a packs of fanqiejiang
Cashier: Two packs of what?
Me: Fan…
Busybody next to me in line: (in English) Ketchup!!
Me: Thanks, but I think the cashier understands Chinese.
BB: No, YOU understand Chinese.
Me: No, really. I find that most people in Taiwan understand Chinese. Most of the time anyway.
BB: But, fanqiejiang is “ketchup” in English.
Me: Really? You’re kidding.
BB:(English) No. It’s true!
Me: Thanks for the help. Nimen keyi gei wo zai liang bao “ketchup” ma?

The cashiers were cracking up, but busybody seemed content with a job well done.


#11

When Ruthie says come see her
In her honkey-tonk lagoon,
Where I can watch her waltz for free
‘Neath her Panamanian moon.
An’ I say, “Aw come on now
You must know about my dedutante.”
An’ she says, "Your debutante knows just what you need
But I know what you want. "
Oh Mama Can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.

  • Mr. Zimmerman

#12

spicy food is always a tough one. my personal philosophy is wu wei er you are going to get some bland food. i prefer the direct approach with confirmation with direct eye contact.

hah last time i went to a hui i didn’t bother to tell the new waiter i want the mu gua salad spicy because a hui well knows already. this bright light must have specifically said not to make it hot because a foreigner ordered. i didn’t even have to say anything because a hui was saying “he wants it hot doesn’t he” as soon as she saw the guy bringing it to my table, he looked at me in confusion, i just smiled and nodded, it got taken right back :slight_smile:

hah, those busybodies are the best. after 14 years i certainly have my “very good elmer” look and “xie xie” intonation well practiced.


#13

[quote=“ironlady”]I’m getting sick and tired of well-meaning (I suppose!) Taiwanese making decisions for me without knowing the first thing about me.

Example: I order food at a street stall. I indicate, both in Chinese and by gesture, that I do not want the food slathered all over with that brown powder. The vendor looks at me, looks at the food, and slathers it anyway. “It’s only good to eat this way,” she says.

Example: I call a landlord about an apartment in the suburbs. The landlord asks (quite reasonably) what I do and how many people will live in the apartment. When I say that I will live alone, she doesn’t want to continue talking to me. “That apartment is too big for one person. It’s way too expensive (15,000 per month) for one person alone. You’d have to get someone to live with you.”

:imp: :imp: :imp:[/quote]

If the street vendor does it again just walk away, don’t take the food and don’t pay him. Keep going back and saying the same thing, if he continually does it, it will eventually piss him off enough that he may actually do what you want him to do.

If you call a landlord and they ask you this question again, tell them your not sure, you want to see it first and then you will decide! :!:


#14

I was shopping for Christmas presents for my family back home and I wanted to get candies for some neighbors and their children. I went into shop that sells things like that and was looking over things not quite sure what they said. A saleslady came over and asked if she could help me and I told her in my best (broken) mandarin that I wanted to buy candy. So she steers me over to some peanut candy. I told her no, because one of the kids is allergic to nuts. I know my mandarin is bad, but I think saying “Yi ge haizi you huasheng de guominzheng”, no matter how much I messed up the tones that the words themselves would have provide some contextual clues about what I meant. She said, “Hao” and took the box up to the register for me. I’m sure they would have loved me for giving their kid a fatal allergic reaction. Even saying “Wo zhidao” when someone offers to help you order something when you know the Chinese is so irritating. I didn’t come to Taiwan to test people’s English translating skills. I’ve found that nipping the problem in the bud works, even if it’s a little rude. If someone unsolicited asks me, “Do you need help?” I tell them, “No, not really.” So far, so good.


#15

[quote]OK, I like Laodz, and will defend him… so here’s an “Off Topic” warning.

etc[/quote]

OK, OK. Does someone want to put me right on Confucius too? I haven’t studied this stuff in any detail, and am not going devote the next ten years learning the chinese for ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. I think Ironlady’s response was rather funny though.

After Salman Rushdie got into trouble over ‘The Satanic Verses’ I heard a joke that his next book was called ‘Buddha is a Fat Bastard’. It’s the best I can do with a hangover.

Another ‘helping’ story: I’m standing outside a restaurant looking at the menu book on display. It’s in English and Chinese, and I only speak/read one of those languages. Suddenly a lady appears at my side and proceeds to point at things in the menu for me. Page by page, item by item, she smilingly draws my attention to the pretty pictures, and smiles.

I mean, what’s the point? What, precisely, does this behaviour achieve? Go on, defend it. I challenge anyone and everyone.