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2008/11/23

Why is Everyone So Surprised?

Over the past week, a new web phenomenon was created with the rapid spread of a recorded phone call an American made to a Shanghai restaurant delivery service. In the call, the American "taught", insulted, and demanded an apology from the operator. He also stated he had 2,000 employees under him and he makes RMB3 million a year, which makes one wonder why he was so up in arms about a 2-for-1 burger deal. It also seems obvious the operator couldn't understand much of his English and he didn't speak Chinese to her, its likely he can't speak any to begin with.

What seems so funny to me is how fast this has spread around the net and how roundly its condemned by everyone. It's not that I condone this kind of behavior, the way he acts is pretty appalling. Yet the reality is that this is fairly common among the expat community in China. I don't know if this guy has 2,000 employees under him and is making RMB3 million a year, but there are a lot of young 20 and 30 somethings (and even older) in China who are making a lot of money and who feel a sense of entitlement based on their passport.

While in this case it was an American, it just as easily could have been a Brit, a Canadian, a Frenchie, etc. It seems like a lot of expats want to pretend this is an isolated incident, instead of something that happens in the expat bars/restaurants on a daily basis, you know this guy, if you're in a cafe or bar, you could very easily be sitting next to this guy. I sent this to a friend, quite possibly the only person who hadn't seen it, and their reaction was "why are you sending this to me?" This "douchebag" attitude was so prevalent among those who they were around (mostly lawyers), that this call didn't seem odd in the slightest.

It's great to call out this guy on the net, with a lot of "brave" statements about punching him out and name calling in Danwei's comments, but the next time you come across "this guy" in a bar, club, or restaurant, how many of you will actually do something? It's not like this never happens, what never happens is that foreigners take notice and stand up for the Chinese involved.

6 comments:

So Stated said...

I agree that it's not too rare a sight -- a foreigner in China going off on someone for the slightest reason. i've had drunken friends/acquaintances start fights simply because they are drunk enough to project whatever they feel like on a silent chinese person. and of course i've stepped in, even lost a pair of glasses once in the process. but there was something oddly cold-blooded about this call, which is why i posted it. i admit it's not the worst anyone has seen, but it's pretty gross, and since it's always worth pointing out the systemic and personal abuses by chinese in china, it's worth pointing out the gross behavior of an american like this, too. i think it's actually an area that isn't talked enough about, if only because there aren't enough accurate portrayals of how far it can go. besides that, it was also just a curious recording for someone to find.
i hadn't seen your blog before. i'll check back.
-steve
theforeignexpert.com

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
foreignsteve said...

what?

b. cheng said...

@anonymous
I'm all for open, spirited discussion, but your kind of mental midgetry isn't acceptable here.

b. cheng said...

@So Stated
Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. I do agree with most of what you're saying, though I just wanted to point out how we can't pretend this is so rare or horrible. Yes, it was bad, but he only really crossed the line with the "F#@*# bitch" comment, everything else was your typical arrogant, idiotic laowai.

Thanks for stopping by, I've come across your blog a lot lately as well and will be sure to continue visiting, I hope you come back here for a regular look too.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was just an expat being rude to the locals, and a Chinese girl pretending she understands English, both living up to their worst stereotypes. Um, that's what I saw every day in China! But then he got so nasty that I cringed and had to shut it off.