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.