Do I look like the kind of person who can read Chinese?
I ask because the other day a cute girl handed me a flyer. It looked to be for a sale. Not wanting to disappoint her faith in my Chinese skills, I pretended to read until she was out of sight where I promptly ditched it.
On the ground. That’s something I have yet to get used to. In China, if there are no trashcans around, you just throw it on the ground. No fines. No recycling maniacs will yell at you. Every morning, people with giant brooms come through and sweep it all up.
So littering creates jobs. The next time you see a “Don’t Throw Down on K-Town” trash bin, tip it over. The unemployed will thank you.
There is a huge mall down the street full of western restaurants and western shops juxtaposed with cheaper Chinese restaurants with better food and cheaper Chinese stores. It’s always packed full of people, and always you will find many people handing out flyers.
Consumerism exists here, but to what extent? Is it as bad as America? Before I came here, a friend told me that “the Chinese aren’t jaded and materialistic”. So far, that has held true.
A lot of the college kids do like to buy expensive items. For example, cell phones. When I went to buy a cell phone, Alan and Alfred suggested that I buy one that cost at least $1000 RMB. Keep in mind that is the minimum. You can go up, if you like.
I politely said ‘no’. They told me of all the features I could have. I said I preferred to simply text message and make the occasional phone call. Anything else? Unnecessary. I ended up paying 360 RMB for a black Nokia with a short battery life.
I later thought about their reasons, and I realize that they did not buy expensive cell phones to show off. They genuinely liked the extra features. Prestige and all that nonsense came second, or in their minds, didn’t exist at all. These people don’t need it to feel good. They will never take photos of themselves with the overpriced product and then place it on their Facebook page and sit hunched over the computer like a paralyzed bird of prey waiting for the validation to come rolling in. They can live without it.
In my experience, it doesn’t happen here. Most of my students have nice cell phones with cameras, full of pictures they’ve taken, but the phones, the purses, and everything else they buy are not used as status symbols.
That’s not to say it doesn’t happen here. I cannot say one way or another because I can only speak from my experience on this subject, and from my experience, I have yet to meet one Chinese person who thinks spending over $100 on a pair of sunglasses is a great idea. Sunglasses. An item meant to be worn during a certain time of day (hint: the sun is out) and during certain weather (hint: the sun is out). Sunglasses, for Christ’s sake. Sunglasses.
A lot of Americans derive pleasure from the status others attach to their possessions. Most of this happens in fashion when something is labeled ‘designer’, an absolutely idiotic label. Anything you buy was designed by somebody, so all of it is ‘designer’ one way or another.
‘Better quality’ is not a synonym for ‘designer’. Overpriced is. ‘Worthless’ is another one, as in ‘An overpriced, worthless good that will give you a brief spark of happiness that will soon fade while you frantically search for the next overpriced, worthless good that you believe will make you look better than you really are while you give your money directly to a criminal corporation who sees you as nothing more than a laborer’. That’s what you are. A ‘laborer’. No matter how many Gucci purses you cram on that credit card.
Have fun at work.
I know I’ll have fun at mine, in my $625 Alejandro Ingelmo Croc-Embossed Running Sneakers, my $185 jeans, my $75 Armani Logo Jeans Tee-shirt, my $595 Movado SE watch, and although the weather calls for cloudy skies, you better believe I’ll be sportin’ the $320 aviators.
$1800. God it feels good to be worth something.