America: We answer the phone and say, “Hello.” We usually follow up with basic greetings and questions. “What are you doing?” “How are you?” “How are things?” It’s the same if we see people in person. And when we are on the phone, we speak at a number volume (especially in public) so as not to upset those around us. But, China is a little different….
China: I answer my phone to: Uh! or Eh! or Ueh! Uhhh! —some sort of sound. It’s rarely some sort of comprehensible word…that would make too much sense; ok that’s a lie…most people greet with the word, “Wei!” which is an informal greeting–the equivalent of “Hey” and hey, they rhyme….. Nevertheless, Chinese greetings get upsetting (to me) because they changed my life. I quickly set a double standard for myself:
Ring Ring Ring, I would shout “Ueh?” into the phone before the other person could utter their sound. Or sometimes I would scream “Wei!!!” Both are extremely fun ways of greeting people. Screaming into a phone before the other person can say a word becomes a game that I got pretty good at…I was always baffled when Chinese people did this to me before I could say, “Hello,” but by the end…I had it all figured out.
So, that’s how I began to answer my phone. But, if someone called me and did that, I would often respond with, “1 – That’s not a word, and 2 – even if that was a word, that’s no proper greeting…” “You can’t greet people with incomprehensible sounds, Xiao Mei! God!”
So that’s the way people greet each other (screaming Wei or making ridiculous sounds). And the conversations tend to continue for another 20 minutes filled with pure screaming. When I say this, I am not joking or exaggerating at all. Try riding a small bus in China from one city to another maybe an hour away, and wait for the first person to answer his phone. It will frighten you. “Why is that man shouting? Oh my god, he is clearly going to beat his wife when he sees her…and whole family for that matter….assuming that’s who he’s speaking to….
Chinese phone manners are nonexistent, and sometimes they infuriate me, but I, personally, found them contagious. Thank the lord I’m not now answering my phone screaming at people like I did in China. Or maybe I should try it and see what happens…I dunno.
I added ZhangJiaJie photos…well a few…I want to add more later, but as of right now, I want to provide a sort of timeline so as to provide everyone with an understanding of 1 – how much Chinese people treated us and 2 – how little control we had over what we were doing..
Sunday July 4th:
3:00 PM – Halina and Craig Arrive
4:00 PM – KTV with my students who were drinking. Only a little. Performances: I want it that way, My Humps (thanks Craig), and Billy Jean
5:00PM – Walk home
6:15 PM – Basketball at the town center
8:00PM – Home and shower
9:00 PM – Dinner at “Frank’s Street Restaurant” (弗兰克的夜市） – Really my friend’s restaurant… (Dinner and beer was free…)
10:30 PM – To the new club in town. Lady Gaga is playing when we walk in. I go to the stage. Halina and Craig come and dance also (the longer we dance, the higher chance we have of beers being put on our table). I introduce them to the owner. We continue dancing. Budweisers magically appear. There is a stripper trained dancer, she is crazy on the pole. We dance all night.
1:00 AMish – Back to the street restaurant for free food.
2-3:00AM – Bed
Monday, July 5th
8:00 AM – Wake up from Xiao Mei even though we are leaving at like 9:30
9:00 AM – Nothing Compares…
9:30 breakfast…terrible bao zi
10:00 Pick up from random guy we don’t know
11-11:30 Arrive in Wulingyuan
12:00 Lunch with some teachers and people
1:00 To the national Park…a lot of walking around…saw the Avatar mountain and stuff.
5:00 – leave the park and the random driver is still waiting for us. he drives us to ZhangJiaJie city.
6:00 – Dinner with government people
7:00 Surprise English corner. We butcher “You are my Sunshine.” And we learn some crazy dance.
8:30 to the hotel that is paid for by the gov’t guy (mr. wan…or mr. red as we called him)
9:00 to the street restaurant for our second dinner…aka lots of drinking
Midnight – back to the hotel
8:30 – Wake up and breakfast which sucked
10- to the other entrance of the national park (driven by Mr. Chai, the bald gov’t man)
11 – Tea shop sitting…for too long
11:45 Lunch (treated, again)
1:30 to the national park (mr. Chai was our photographer)
6:00 Dinner (treated again…but it was at the same restaurant…why? why? diversify people! come on!)
8:00 – back to cili (driven by one of my friends)
10:00 – more drinking at the street restaurant before going home to bed..
—-So the moral of the time-line is…if you have government friends in small town China, you can do a relatively expensive sight-seeing trip for….$0.00. Although, there were many times we had no idea what was happening, where we were going, and were completely ignored. Oh well. It’s China.