I used to give some people the impression I hated China because I was always blogging about odd situations that irritated or frustrated me. I would always respond by saying that this was clearly not true, it’s just that I am living in China, so I write about stuff that happens in China. A good example of this would be this conversation I had at the currency exchange counter at London’s Gatwick airport as I was about to fly to Spain:
WoAi: Good afternoon good sir, I would like to exchange some British pounds for European money – I believe they’re called euros.
Currency guy: Yes sir, how much would you like to change?
WoAi: Well, let me see, I am going for a week, so let’s call it 100 pounds, shall we?
Currency guy [with a puzzled look on his face]: Only 100? Are you sure?
WoAi: Erm, yes, is that okay?
Currency guy: Well you see, we charge 3 pounds per transaction regardless of the amount, so by changing such a small amount, the percentage works out very high.
WoAi [Always a sucker for the upsell]: Ah yes, good point, and thank you for preventing me from making a catastrophic mistake. Let’s make it 150 pounds.
Currency guy [still looking like he's slightly constipated]: Hmmm, are you sure that’s going to be enough and you’re definitely not going to change more later, because then it will work out more expensive?
WoAi: No, 150 will be fine.
Currency guy: So just 150 pounds yeah, you sure you don’t want to make it 200, which would work out at 250 euros?
Now at this point, even mild mannered WoAi is starting to get a bit irritated by this guy’s attempts to get me to change more money than I want. I consider the various responses I could offer:
(1) Yes, yes, you’re absolutely right, let’s make it 50,000 pounds, just in case I go shopping or something.
(2) And if I don’t use all the euro, are you going to change it back for me free of charge?
(3) Well, I am going for 6 days, the company is paying for the first 3, I’ve paid online for my hotel for the second 3 days and I expect to use my credit card for any transaction over 10 euros, so actually, 150 euros for bus fare and a coffee or two is more than adequate, but if it’s not, well, I’ll just have to take the hit and change more money bearing in mind there are money changers on every street corner in Barcelona.
(4) [In my best Bob Geldof accent]: Listen mate, JUST GIVE ME MY FUCKING MONEY!!!
I decide on option (4) and I think it was the correct choice.