Beijing with Love

In another incidence of cultural clash, I was trying hard to help two women who spoke very little English. Basically, they held a sweater, saying, “Size,” then point at another sweater in a different color–saying they wanted one color in the other color’s size. Got it? Good. So far, so good. Except, they kept asking me for help and became decidedly more and more confusing. Speaking to each other, I detected accents of Korean, so I called a co-worker who could speak Korean.

As she approached, they suddenly saw her and started to call out to her, waving her over. I thought it was over, and sighed happily as I walked away. Less than a minute later, the girl says on the walkie-talkie, “They aren’t speaking Korean, I don’t know what language it is, maybe Chinese?”

Okay, so I call over another coworker who speaks Chinese. Yet another exchange ensues, and yet again a failure. She comes up to me saying that she’s never heard their version of Chinese before. They say they’re from Beijing, but their dialect is totally different.

So I looked it up, and I found Beijing’s national language, which is only the dominant language, of course. Mandarin pops up as the first, primary answer. Yet, I also see something called Mandolin. Interestingly, there is also the Guangzhou dialect of Cantonese. Well, we definitely got no where with them.

Although they attempted to buy something, they had no understanding of our sales tax, which amounted to about 4%. After a long exchange of misunderstanding and defensiveness, acting like we’re cheating them, I don’t think they bought their $20 sale sweater, because of the added tax of about $0.80. Yes, eighty-cents. I have something to say, but it would be misconstrued.

Customer Types: The Dumb, Learn the Language

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