Sunday, April 26, 2009

Helping Others and Felt Stupid

A few months ago I was buying breakfast at a McDonald's at O'Hare Airport. A Chinese man, who spoke no English at all, was trying to buy a hamburg. Seriously, he couldn't even say "hamburg", he said "han bao" in Chinese! The cashier seemed to be quite experienced with international travelers so he just brought out a menu with pictures. Of course, this man didn't know there were so many different "han bao" in the US. So being the good Samaritan, I tried to help, talked to the cashier to help him make the order while talking to him in Mandarin.

This man didn't look at me at all the entire time, nor did he talk to me directly, let alone saying "thanks". He's got his food and went back to his table, where a couple of same mid-age Chinese men were sitting, without food.

I don't know if he felt "losing face" because a young Chinese woman helped him, or he was used to have others' service, or he was just not used to express appreciations like many Chinese, whatever reasons, I felt really stupid for helping this stranger. Well, it turned out that I didn't stop helping wandering Chinese tourists later, but I was deeply saddened by this incident.


  1. 青帝:没有必要为这种事情伤心,出门在外,也不容易,很多差异,难以让人适应,我没有出过国,但我想一个人置身于与自己完全不同的国度,各种文化冲突会让人非常难受.祝你快乐!非常感谢你的英文帖子,非常地道.

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  3. Like your blogs, both the Chinese and the English versions.

    I sympathize with what you experienced. I guess that guy is probably a government official or some other obnoxious so-called "upper-class" people in China. Those guys are so used to being serviced by others that they have lost the ability to say "thank-you". What a shame.

    I had a slightly different experience while at an airport in New Orleans. He came to me asking about flight departure time in Chinese, very polite guy.