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Alice Yang
Yang is a contributing columnist for the Fort Bend Star.
She is a student at Stephen F. Austin High School-FBISD.

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.

Hong Kong, why the attitude?


My trip to Hong Kong was not a pleasant one. Never in my life have I been scolded so pitifully by a sunglasses salesman.

But it’s not just me, the whole tour group felt the same way. I’ve personally witnessed some major rudeness on the part of the local salesmen towards us tourists.

Hong Kong has the rich culture of East meets West. Dynasties ago, it was part of China until Britain won the territory after the Opium wars. In 1997, Hong Kong was returned back to China under a ‘one country two systems’ policy where it got to keep its own legal system and free market economy.

Thus, with a history of Eastern traditions and Western modernization, Hong Kong can be seen as the fusion point of two hemispheres of thought. A lot of its people are Buddhist, celebrate Chinese holidays, and practice Feng Shui. The same people also have Christmas, wear Burberry, and speak English.

Even the downtown architecture documents its unique past. There are Christian schools done in gothic styles next to pagoda tips of Chinese restaurants. You can see modern skyscrapers reminiscent of the Sears tower while observing the strategic Feng Shui point at which they are located.

The city, its history, its architecture, its cosmopolitan appeal are all worth the time to explore this unique island, but a thing that shocked me was the bad attitude of the local salespeople.

So our tour group went shopping in this little place with a mix of everything from perfume to video cams to Chinese herbs. I went over to the sunglasses counter to try some on. Just when I put on the first pair of Armanis, this salesman came over and immediately told me that its price was 600 yuan.

Here I was, just trying on stuff for effect and the man upon hearing no reply from me automatically lowered his price to 300. Then, I politely told him I was not really interested, and out of nowhere, he said okay, final offer I will give it to you for 200.

I was still silent and took off the glasses. I told him I didn’t really want them.

“Is it the money?”

“No it has nothing to do with the price.”

“What?! Nothing to do with the price?! Everything has to do with the price!”

“Um...I was just trying it on for effect; I don’t really want to buy it.”

“Do not ask to try things on if you are not going to buy it! It’s like if I’m a stranger and I ask for your name, would you tell me?”

I was completely shocked by his rudeness. I thought, salesmen are supposed to be gentle and suck up a little if they want people to buy their products. But wow! This one? Arguing with me just because I didn’t want a pair of glasses? It felt like we were fighting, loud, coarse Chinese words over his crazy hand gestures as he immediately ignored me and moved on to the next customer.

And what an analogy! Me asking to try on glasses and a stranger asking for someone’s name? I still don’t understand his point.

Anyway, that was just my experience. Something else happened with this lady in our group who wanted to buy some bananas.

She asked the street vendor how much it costs and upon hearing it was expensive, she muttered that it was cheaper in mainland China. The vendor suddenly threw her arms open and said with exasperation, “then go back to the mainland to buy your bananas!”

Absurd right? Why the salespeople behave this way is beyond me. I mean, if you want someone’s business, you have to be courteous, not crass. Plus, it’s not really smart to leave tourists with a bad impression of the city by making a whip remark about fruits. If you’re going to sell something, politeness should be free of charge.

Yang is a contributing columnist for the Fort Bend Star. She is a student in FBISD.

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   Last Update:  August 02, 2007