My Umbrella (Ella Ella, Ay Ay)

I think I’ve talked already about how China has hardened me. I used to be a very mild mannered, polite young man but bitter experiences have made me a bit (some would say more than a bit) of an arsehole (Americans, please note the proper spelling). So whereas before I’d accept certain situations, in China, I often challenge people and question responses where I certainly would not have done in my early days here. But it’s often the only way and many other expats here have probably changed in the same way.

Last night it was raining and as I entered the restaurant (Osteria on Jinxian lu for those who are interested), the waiter very politely pointed to a bucket where I was to put my dripping umbrella. When it rains in Shanghai, an umbrella is pretty essential and I’ve already experienced other people seeing the heavy rain outside a restaurant stealing someone else’s from the bucket on their way out. I may even have done it myself, although it was after someone had taken my umbrella and I decided I would just steal another!

So I looked straight at the waiter and said “if it gets lost are YOU going to take responsibility for replacing it?”. He smiled nervously and then just showed me to my table with my umbrella dripping all over the floor. I guess I was expecting another prolonged battle so I had switched to aggressive battle mode not expecting him to fold so easily. I felt a bit bad, but I left a few hours later with the same cherished umbrella I’d arrived with.

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14 Responses to My Umbrella (Ella Ella, Ay Ay)

  1. wisemanofasia says:

    I seem to remember another post, many moons ago, about how much better Shanghai is compared with London and one of the reasons being that you could by 10 Kuai umbrellas from outside the underground. The post ended with you stating that you had hundreds of these cheap umbrellas and yet here you are giving grief to a poor waiter! Quite right too! Keep up the bitchy expat-ness and keep the locals on their toes!!!

  2. WoAi says:

    @Wiseman – Very impressive memory you have. I guess after spending a horrific amount of money in recent weeks, and my shares in Apple plummeting, I haven’t even got 10 RMB to spare these days. Sad but true. But also, on Jinxian lu there aren’t any ladies selling brollies. It’s a quiet little street.

  3. flutter-by says:

    Some restaurants/department stores/office buildings hand out free plastic bags at the entrance, so people can take in their umbrellas without dripping all over the places. Little investment to solve the problem.
    I usually don’t mind dropping my umbrella in their buckets and I never worried it could get stolen, because my umbrella is too special/conspicuous to be a theft target. No, it’s not a pink Hello Kitty one. It’s in black, but just super big – enough to accommodate 5 people.

  4. anthony says:

    are you sure its not male menopause ? lol

  5. Lil bro says:

    The correct waiter response would be, “if someone slips and breaks their neck on the floor due to you dripping water all over it, will YOU take responsibility for the medical bills?”

  6. Bittermelon says:

    Another laowai behaving badly. No wonder the government is cracking down.

  7. WoAi says:

    @Flutter-by – Yes, office buildings and big stores but never in a small cozy restaurant.

    @Anthony – It probably is!

    @Lil bro – Spoken like a true waiter!

    @Bittermelon – Indeed. Outrageous behaviour from yours truly. But compared to many of the recent batch of foreigners in China, I’m like a model citizen. In fact, I will be writing about this topic again soon.

  8. anthony says:

    Woai – the model brit expat – lol

  9. wisemanofasia says:

    Woai – surely you can do whatever the hell you want and just pretend to be local? ;)

  10. I’m not so sure that worrying about your umbrella should really be considered an example of you being “hardened”. Well, perhaps in Shanghai.

  11. WoAi says:

    @Changsha notes – Well I meant hardened in the sense that I challenge waiters and other people a lot more here than back home, but you do make an excellent point. It’s hard to imagine Jason Stratham worrying about a little bit of drizzle!

  12. Rain wouldn’t dare touch Jason’s pate. I was just kidding. You make a great point that I can certainly relate to. I find that I too can be a little less accommodating than I used to be when I first arrived. Not impolite really, just more aware of not taking any crap.

  13. D says:

    hi woai, i havent been leaving comments for a longtime , but im always reading :)

    I am writing a piece of article about west london in chinese and its due this weekend! You always have good taste, would you kindly recommend me a few of your favourite places in West london? Thanks!

  14. WoAi says:

    @D – An article for what? Who is the target audience? What type of places? Bars, restaurants, shops? Have you started your own WoAi London blog? I haven’t lived in London since 1996 so I’m probably not the best person to ask on this! But my favourite place in west London has got to be Westfields. What else do you need to know?

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