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Truth Be Told

Popularity 2Viewed 1460 times 2018-8-21 20:34 |Personal category:Comedy|System category:Life

Just seconds after I got my finger cut by the sharp edge of the broken glass panel of a roadside bulletin board when I tried to flag down a cab, I felt that I was blessed, because the little accident just ocurred steps away from a drugstore. The cut was not serious at all, but it would appear gross to leave it untreated, as I was on my way to a meeting with a prospective business partner whom I had never met before. A bunch of people, including a long-haired dude holding a video camera on his shoulder, caught sight of my awkward situation, they laughed at me and then also pointed their fingers to the drugstore.

 

The drugstore looked like a newly opened one, as the fascia and the awn above it all appeared in mint condition. Peeking into the door, the brightly-lit interior, gleaming rows of racks in the open space, and a kaleidoscopic array of boxed medicine on them all felt like a swanky boutique in a upscale shoping mall.

 

To make short work of binding up my bleeding thumb, I threaded my way through them to get into the store, and made a beeline for the counter, behind which a matronly lady with long, curly hair stood. She stayed there alone, and stock still, but with her back to me.

 

”Excuse me, ma’ma, can I have some band aids?” I inquired in my usual soft voice.

 

Then I was taken aback at the sullen face of the woman when she turned to look at me, her eyebrows knitted in a tight knot, lips pursed in a thin line, nostrils flaring like she was about to jump into a fistfight.

 

I repeated my question, but a little nervously, ”Can I have some band aids, please?”

 

“They are all on the racks, you just have to look for them by yourself.” She snapped and motioned towards the neatly aligned lines of racks with her chin.

 

“Where’re th’y, ma’ma? There’re so many racks over there …” I muttered, suppressing the urge that was surging inside me to verbally question her professionalism.  

 

”You can’t find the band aids, huh? Com’on, you have to come to your own aid, pal.” She shot back, seemingly ready to pick a fight with me..

 

At hearing that, I turned on my heel.

 

Not that I was a pushover,  I simply didn’t feel like making a scene arguing with her, and disrupting my trip to the venue where my business meeting was going to take place. But to be honest, I was really pissed off.  

 

I strode over to the door irked, still brooding over the ill-treament from the petulant clerk. And I was literally swearing under my breath, ”I will never spend a single penny in your place.” when I found a microphone thrust in my face out of the blue.

 

”Hello, sir. May I talk to you for a minute?”

 

I was jolted out of my sulky mood, and looked up.  

 

A dapper-looking guy in grey pin-stripe suit, who was holding the mic to my mouth just outside of the exit, was looking at me expectantly. Standing behind him, was the guy I saw earlier who had a bulky video camera perched on his shoulder that bore the logo of our local TV station.  

 

”Sure. What’s up, sir?” I just tried to be as polite as I could manage.

 

”We just want to know what you think of this new drugstore that is the first and only one in this neighborhood, which is sponsored by the city council. Incidentally, this one is also the biggest in town, staffed with professional personel, and equiped with the state-of-art computer system for easy search and payment services that would cater to everyone’s needs, particularly the elders...”

 

I was literally struggling to hold back my snicker, as it appeared to be a perfectly-timed opportunitiy for me to vent the indignation I felt minutes before. While the puffery was still going on, I turned to look for the angry bird who was supposed to be visible from where I stood. There she was, craning her neck behind the counter, and palpably on tenterhooks.

 

”... as we see you just came out of it, could you please tell us what your experience with the store is like, sir?”

 

”Is it a live broadcast?” I asked before launching into a scathing rant.

 

”Yes, it is, sir.”

 

Then I had a change of heart.

 

What would I gain by ripping into the lady, except knocking her out of job, while causing collateral damages to the reputation of the drugstore? I thought to myself.

 

Almost nothing.

 

What if the lady, in desperate defense of herself, denied what I stated, and muddied the water by projecting me as a grouchy geezer? I believed things would come out in the wash eventually, but it took time and energy to clear the air. Was this petty spat worth it?

 

The answer was no.

 

What if my prospective business partner clapped eyes on me on TV berating a working stiff, and concluded that I was a cantankerous old weirdo? No doubt that would upset my business plans big time.

 

Not least the city councilors who were mobilzing to upgrade the healthcare system, touting this drugstore as a paragon with fanfare. They would be mad at this setback in the progress that was all because of a trivial feud that unfolded on live TV.  To have someone who hate your guts was no fun, both to the gruff clerk, and to me.

 

So I piped up while slipping my hand into my pocket to cover up the laceration in my finger.

 

”This is a terrific place to seek medical services, and I just have had a wonderful experience with it. It is impressive to have a store with such a big OTC stock, and such obliging staff.  I am glad that drugstores like this one would be built throughout the city to help residents with healthcare, and I am confident everybody will benefit a lot from this ambitious drive...”

An illustration for the article

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report Liononthehunt 2018-12-23 19:14
J.E.Overington: Thanks for sharing your Chinese step-by-step thoughts through conflict management in front of media. I'm western, trained in logic, and I have media f ...
Thanks for the comment.

The story is about a fictitious incident, and it is not even set in China.  

Actually I meant to write a story that could illustrate people's tendency to veil their true feelings on camera (or by extension, in public places) in social interactions, based on their calculation of gains and losses.

Anyway, since I have put it out for everybody to read, I expect readers to interpret the messages in various ways, as it's par for the course according to research in social cognition psychology.

By the way, I have to clarify that my experiences with drugstores in China are actually the polar opposite of what is depicted in the story, the dispensers are mostly nice ladies, friendly, obliging, sometimes even overzealous in helping you.  

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  • Truth Be Told 2018-12-23 19:14

    J.E.Overington: Thanks for sharing your Chinese step-by-step thoughts through conflict management in front of media. I'm western, trained in logic, and I have media f ...
    Thanks for the comment.

    The story is about a fictitious incident, and it is not even set in China.  

    Actually I meant to write a story that could illustrate people's tendency to veil their true feelings on camera (or by extension, in public places) in social interactions, based on their calculation of gains and losses.

    Anyway, since I have put it out for everybody to read, I expect readers to interpret the messages in various ways, as it's par for the course according to research in social cognition psychology.

    By the way, I have to clarify that my experiences with drugstores in China are actually the polar opposite of what is depicted in the story, the dispensers are mostly nice ladies, friendly, obliging, sometimes even overzealous in helping you.  

  • Truth Be Told 2018-12-23 08:04

    Thanks for sharing your Chinese step-by-step thoughts through conflict management in front of media. I'm western, trained in logic, and I have media facing experience silencing scandals. I'll share my thoughts step-by-step,

    First, I would praise all I could, as you did, but I would omit praise of the staff. We like to create wiggle-room so we don't feel cornered into anything in the future.

    Second, if the cut on your finger is severe enough to need stitches, not just a swipe of H2O2, then the staff's unprofessionalism could be a health hazard, and that can be brought quietly and anonymously to her supervisor without asking for her to be fired. Again, we like room for maneuverability, so I would report only potential health hazards without comment on her ability to get along with people.

    Third, she gave you terrible customer service, and among foreign-dominated conversations in China, customer service is widely commented on as a "missing phenomenon". I tend to disagree with the ways foreigners talk when alone together in China: if they don't like it they can go. But I listen because sometimes I meet a caring person who is struggling to solve a challenge. Due to that situation, I've been wondering how to teach customer service skills to Chinese who do not seek the skills, do not know foreigners wish the Chinese would develop their skills... so that sort of thing, shown here, I air a little in public to listen to Chinese responses gradually. I'm a slow developer and customer service lessons from westerners for Chinese is going to be a big win someday, but years after the topic cools down.

    In the west, because you received no customer service, you could easily say so without the issues you iterated in your blog. We expect customer service training to be part of the norm, and a way to say it without causing all the upsets you apprehended, is to say the worker could benefit from some customer service training you guess the city is in the process of providing. That lets all involved save face while clearing the air.

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