The Return Of Old WoAi

My blog used to be almost entirely about frustrating incidents that made me question what I was doing living in this crazy place, but I rarely post those types of topics these days.  Old age has mellowed me. However, from time to time, I still have some of those infuriating incidents and here’s one of them.

I had a busy day Friday so I rushed to KFC at around 2.30pm to have a quick bite to eat before returning to the office. After placing my order at the counter I walked down to the seating area and was surprised to see that every single table was occupied, despite the lunchtime rush being over for at least an hour. On closer inspection, I noticed almost HALF of the people seated were not eating or even drinking. The tables were empty of any KFC products. Some were just chatting, others seemed to be conducting some big time business deals. After circling for a few minutes, I noticed there were other people like me walking around with trays of food and nowhere to sit. I eventually lost all patience and sat down with two guys who were doing some work on a laptop. I didn’t bother asking if the seat was free, I just pulled out a chair and sat myself down. For good measure I took a photo of the two morons for my blog.

Not a chicken wing in sight!

Yes, yes, it’s just a cultural difference and I am just being a badly behaved laowai. In China it’s PERFECTLY acceptable to walk into a KFC or McDonalds and use their facilities for business meetings, interviews, to hold a wedding ceremony or even to have a sleep, without making any kind of purchase whatsoever.

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28 Responses to The Return Of Old WoAi

  1. i tried explaining to hsbf that it’s not exactly polite to sit around chatting and loitering while eating in korea . . . though sitting around and loitering at the local GS25 us totally acceptable.

  2. Cindy says:

    And free ac in the summer time. How wonderful!

  3. Wancestyle says:

    LOL! Funny post and so true! Maybe China could learn from UK where ‘public goods’ are getting fewer and fewer. But at least you can still manage to get a seat and eat your damn junk food!

  4. wisemanofasia says:

    On the plus side they didn’t care that you took a picture of them (not much of a plus side I admit as christ they ain’t exactly the prettiest peas in the pod are they). In England, by this time you would have already been sued!

  5. T. says:

    Next time shut their computer before you sit down.

  6. SHEinChina says:

    True, true, true… I had my first, ever, language exchange with a Shanghainese girl at a Mc Donald’s on Nanjing Xi Lu. When I suggested we’d go to Starbucks she frowned and said: ‘too expensive’. So, we went to Mc Donald’s. I bought a coke and she bought nothing. And that’s how it always went after that. I tried arriving late one day, just to see if she’d buy anything before I got there. Nope… nothing. Just walk in and sit down. For an hour or two. It’s free.

  7. CP says:

    Spilling your Coke over their computer might have the effect of persuading them to leave (slight chance of getting away with it in China, zero chance in England!)

  8. Woaizhongguo says:

    Okay, I should further explain that my family are in the hospitality industry and so I am more sensitive that most to people coming in and using our facilities without paying for them. We’re not a public service!

    Angie – And what’s a GS25?

    Cindy – Yes indeed. Even I have been known to pop into a shopping mall in the height of summer to get some much needed relief from the unbearable Shanghai heat. But I’m not denying a seat to anyone by doing so.

    Wancestyle – Yeah, I have to admit, it is sometimes great that my friend might be having a coffee in Starbucks and I can pop to McDonalds, get a cheeseburger and bring it to Starbucks and eat with him or her.

    Wiseman – Or I would have been punched in by the two big time businessmen. I was so angry I almost WISHED they’d ask me what the hell I was doing so I could say “I wanna show my friends what morons you are because they won’t believe me without a picture”.

    T – GREAT suggestion, but again, I am gonna get punched one of these days.

    SHEinCHina – That’s what I’m talking about, exactly!

    CP – Seriously Chas, it DID go through my mind to accidently knock over my drink and scare the crap out of them and then cry “oops, silly me, don’t mind me just carry on with your conference or webcast or whatever it is you are doing”.

  9. Richard Guy says:

    Wow, you totally impose expectations of how things work where you are from on China here, which I think is a shame. Is it not great that people get away with using KFC in this way? Maybe if there was not a KFC there there would be a public park, or maybe it’s a sign that there should be. I would also cite it as an example of a freedom that the people in China have that we don’t in the west: a truth that conflicts with the western propaganda about China. Also, is in not great that you are welcome to use an unoccupied seat in this way, it’s normal to just sit down and join people I have found in Asia, which I find a refreshing change to the rigid artificial politeness we practice in the west.

  10. T says:

    “would also cite it as an example of a freedom that the people in China have that we don’t in the west: a truth that conflicts with the western propaganda about China”

    Yeah! Fuck your freedom of speech or freedom of assembly – we can sit around in KFC WITHOUT ORDERING FOOD!!!11!!! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!!!1

  11. to T: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! your comment made my day! thanks.

    Woai: gs25 is a convenience store. but in korea, many of them have plastic tables and chairs just on the other side of the glass where many a person will sit, smoke and drink soju ’til the wee hours of the morning. (ask your pal swiss james about it sometime, as i’m sure he’s done it.)

  12. I suspect that even if KFC posted a sign saying “Dining area for customers only” it would be ignored. Try going to IKEA on a hot day (naps on the display beds!), or any book store (sit on the floor blocking the aisle and read a book you’ll never buy).


  13. Woaizhongguo says:

    Richard Guy – You’ve just accused me of being exactly the type of foreigner I despise. I call them “badly behaved laowai”. I am going to have a guess and say you must be caucasian, perhaps your name is Da Shan? I am guessing random people come up to you, smile, invite you to join their dinner table, invite you to their homes, simply because you’re white, and you probably love the attention. If you’re wondering how I knew, “it’s normal to just sit down and join people I have found in Asia” gave you away.

    I’m NOT white, I’m Asian so Chinese here don’t look at me with the same fascination. I can assure you those two guys did not repeat did NOT welcome me to sit at their table. It was very clear they were not happy about it, but they could not do anything about it.

    T – I think someone (not you) is seeing China through rose tinted glasses!

    Angie – My comments didn’t make your day?

  14. Woaizhongguo says:

    RocketShip: Wow, you totally impose expectations of how things work where you are from on China here, which I think is a shame …. NOT!

  15. Swiss James says:

    Not ordering anything? I can see the one on the left going

    “Xiao Jie, qing turn the bloody A/C up a bit, my laptop is overheating”

  16. Hehe, WoAi. When I first came here I would have never expected that this kind of behavior would be tolerated, but I’ve seen enough of it to know that the “most repressed people in the world” (if you believe American commentators) pay very little attention to the kind of petty rules that citizens of freer countries take for granted.


  17. Rich says:

    Lol @ T :D

    I must make a mental note not to eat my cheerios so close to my mac while reading your posts. I now have bits of chewed up cheerios and milk sprayed over my screen :( Thx buddy.

    And lol @ Richard Guy :D

    You should bring your unique approach to urban planning over here mate, so when you catch some c*nt pissing up the side of your car on a saturday night you can merrily suggest to our town planners that the parking space you occupy might be an excellent location for a public convenience.

  18. Woaizhongguo says:

    Seriously guys could you try to be a bit less funny because you’re making me look bad!

    James – THAT is pretty fucking funny!

    RocketShip – Yes, here rules are made so that people can try their best to circumvent them (is that the right word?). It is astonishing. Last night, (and every time in fact) when landing at Shanghai airport, they said please do not turn on your mobile phones until the plane comes to a stop and then as soon as she says it, everyone turns on their phones.

    Rich – No, I am not buying you a Mac Air. WoAi takes not responsibility for damage to equipment caused whilst reading this blog. Read at your own risk. And yes, T is on form today, as he always is!

  19. wisemanofasia says:

    I like Richard guy he sounds smart. I can see him now with his plastic mac and grubby sandals plodding through China getting an erection any time he sees something quaint that doesn’t happen back home. Oooooh it’s so free here it’s not like CNN told me at all. That’s because, like wo ai said, you’re white, whereas if you were Chinese you might find yourself being kicked out of your house so they can knock it down and build a road, apartment block you can’t live in, Olympic stadium or maybe even a fucking KFC where pompous foreign wankers like you can go and look at the rude people using the facilities and get on their high horse about how sweet little old bullied China is.
    Well listen mate we have to live here and put up with this shit all the time! Of course you probably just got here, got laid for the first time in you life and think everything’s wonderful. Try writing again in 3 years time when you’ve woken up to reality.

    Rant ends here.

  20. Woaizhongguo says:

    ROFLMAO @ Wiseman, but yeah, well put.

    “which I find a refreshing change to the rigid artificial politeness we practice in the west” I think means “I love it here because nobody back home wants to sit with me back home”.

  21. Richard Guy says:

    Oh my God, excellent. That comment was the first time I have ever posted on somebody else\’s blog and check the responses, they\’re hilarious. Ok, so I\’ll try to address your responses one by one…

    T – I \”lol\”d when I read that. No, I\’m not trying to say what you say I am! Just that China is more free than is portrayed in western media. I witnessed anti-police protests in China and no-one got arrested for example. I also saw many examples where freedoms are restricted though (but you see this in the west also).

    Woaizhongguo – Yes I did make that accusation, you said it yourself in your blog in fact (which caused me to believe that it\’s not how you usually behave) so if you tell me you\’re not a bbl, I believe you. And yes I\’m white and your description of me is close enough. Again if you tell me these guys were not happy to have you join then I believe you, but are you saying that it\’s not normal to occupy an unoccupied seat on a mostly occupied table? I see people, Asian people, doing this everyday in Asia – it is normal.

    Rich – \”lol\”d at your comment too. I do feel that cities everwhere don\’t have enough public toilets – but my bladder is weaker than most (cars will do for now)!

    Wisemanofasia – you sound pretty angry dude. Maybe it\’s time you relocate? Though I warn you, don\’t relocate to London because the things you are complaining about happen there too.

  22. Woaizhongguo says:

    Richard Guy – Well in the face of such overwhelming criticism, to an extent that surprised even me, I have to say you handled it pretty well. A lesser man would have reacted badly and things could have turned nasty. So I think you’re qualified to continue to make contributions as you see fit … if you dare!

    At the end of the day, it does seem we both love China, even if I sometimes mean that in an ironic way!

    But i do have to say, you saying you once saw a demonstration against police and nobody got arrested is a bit like saying you once saw a serial killer and on that day he didn’t kill a single person. Would you like to give the man a medal!

    And no, I don’t think it’s normal to join other people at a table, unless there are no available seats and even then most people would ask first. And that’s more a function of overcrowding (and populations in cities close to many countries in the west) rather than of a kind, sharing culture.

  23. wisemanofasia says:

    Richard Gay, or whatever your name is, I don’t know what you’re talking about but you seem to be a victim of Chinese propaganda. Go somewhere further inland and I am sure you will find Human Rights violations galore. Who knows it might even make your erection die down!

    I don’t know what you mean about London? Are you suggesting that in London the government knocks down people’s houses to make room for KFC cus I am pretty sure that doesn’t happen. However, if you mean that in London there are also lots of tourists from a certain country walking around with stiffies because of all the quaint little things going on around them, then you are absolutely right. And yes we do find them annoying!

  24. Richard Guy says:

    wisemanofasia – Re point 1: Is Litang inland enough for you? I witnessed a Sky Burial here, a religious practice that is outlawed in the West.

    Re Point 2:

  25. wisemanofasia says:

    Litang ay? Sky burial ay? Was it the size of your ejaculation that caused the earthquake in central Sichaun?

    To be fair I am quite glad that sky burial is outlawed at home it sounds frankly disgusting. Do you really think that we should be alowed to leave chopped up dead bodies lying around everywhere? Were the local Tibetans happy with their treatment by the Chinese? No you can’t have the right to govern yourselves but…erm…ok you can chop up your dead people and leave them on the side of a mountain. We’ll call it even steven’s ay shall we?

    Fair enough about the London thing tho…I should have know better!

  26. Woaizhongguo says:

    It’s great to see me readers getting along so well, it’s almost like I don’t need to be here to throw fuel on the fire, but since I’ve logged in : forced abortions for mothers who already have one child, anyone?

  27. New in Shanghai says:

    Excellent verbal sparring there. I’d never heard of sky burials, so I had to go look it up on Wikipedia (when will that get blocked again?) Very interesting. But the article ended with no reference to the wake. Can anyone confirm if this is held at the local KFC?

  28. Woaizhongguo says:

    Yes, I don’t know where our friend Mr Richard Guy has disappeared but I wish he’d come back soon, it was the most excitement I’ve seen on this blog in decades. Don’t worry about the Wikipedia block, there are always ways around it.

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