Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago


Posted by MyLaowai on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When it comes to air travel, I’m a trouble free traveller. Well, I like to think so at any rate. Certainly I keep my seatbelt securely fastened at all times, and I return the seat back and tray table to their upright positions at the correct times, and I turn off my mobile phone when instructed to do so by the little man who hides in the tannoy system. I always say “please” when asking for a drink and I always say “thank you” when it arrives. I usually manage to say something nice to the Air Doris while I’m at it.

Mind you, at a certain moment, things tend to bog down in the alcoholic beverages supply chain. Either the mix thins out, or it dries up, or I get a visit from the head lad, who proceeds to warn me about something called ‘dehydration’.

Tosh and balderdash. On a good day I can generally knock over a bottle of gin at a single sitting, before moving on to defeat half a bottle of rum. If you’re an American, you probably think I’m either a lush or a liar. If you’re British, you probably think I’m a bit of a lightweight. This is why, incidentally, Great Britain built a world-spanning empire based on blood, toil, tears and sweat, and the U.S. built a world-spanning empire based on dropping bombs on some poor bastard from thirty thousand feet where it’s safe. But, I digress.

I’m not the guy in front of you who puts his seat right back when you’re trying to eat. I’m not the guy who can’t make up his bloody mind where he wants to sit. I’d never, ever, be the guy who brings his crying baby on board the long-haul flight merely because his wife’s family want to clap eyes on the illegitimate little sod. No, I’m the guy who has a few drinks, maybe reads a book, and is nice to the girl in the purple or green uniform.

Until last week, that is, when I took an Air China flight.

It was a long-haul international flight, and things started going wrong the moment I arrived at the gate, for while I was checked in (via a previous flight), I needed the Air China gate staff to print me a boarding pass. No big deal, you’d think, and normally it wouldn’t be, but that reckons without the obstinacy and sheer bloody-mindedness of a Chinese person who has the power to deny a Laowai something.

And it wasn’t even a big deal: I just wanted an aisle seat. That’s it. It didn’t matter which aisle, or which row, as long as it was an aisle seat.

And this person printed me a centre seat, right in between what I knew would be two stinking peasants. I politely asked this person again for an aisle seat, and was informed that the plane was full. Well now folks, I’m a dab hand at doing rough head counts, and I’ve a pretty fair idea how many bodies fit into a 747, and with five minutes until boarding it was clear the plane was only about two thirds full, so I smiled my nicest smile and asked if perhaps it could be checked again. At which point I was informed that: “If you wanna aisle seat you better wait for next plane!” Point taken.

Now, I’ve thought about this long and hard (two adjectives that few Chinese can lay claim to), and here’s the deal: I’d dearly love to give you this person’s name and position and all the rest of it, but I won’t. I’ve no problem with naming people who put themselves in the public domain, but this person hasn’t done that. All I am prepared to say, therefore, is that the flight originated in California, the person was female at some point before her fallopian tubes dried up like noodles that have been left in the sun, and the name was Ms T. She is employed full-time by Air China, and part-time by the folks who are in the spying game. Oh yes, and she has an expression that can curdle milk at fifty paces – you know the sort I’m talking about: some middle-aged former Red Guard bitch. They’re a dime a dozen in China. The heart is a small, black thing like a lump of coal and it pumps viscous vitriol around the body instead of blood. Too mean to die, they exist in a dark netherworld of hatred and bitterness. It is said that, as with Cliff Richard, they cannot be harmed by conventional weapons. Let the traveller beware when passing through lands inhabited by Ms T and her ilk.

Back on the plane, I was not happy. But then it occurred to me that, as a Laowai, I really should take charge of the situation. I could either sit in my assigned seat and steam for thirteen hours, or I could take steps to address the issue. The choice was clear, as was the method: Chinese were at the heart of the problem, and so they would be at the heart of the solution. I moved to the aisle seat. When Mr Wang turned up wanting his seat, I merely informed him that he could have the middle one instead. When he protested, I smiled radiantly and told him how lucky he was to be given that option. Confused (as Chinese easily are), he sat where he was told. As did the next person to arrive. Mission accomplished. But, I thought, why stop there? It had all gone so swimmingly, why not up the stakes? Looking about, I saw two empty seats a few rows away. Turning to my fellow passengers, I pointed out the empty seats, and suggested they might be happier sitting in them, before proceeding to demonstrate with my elbows why that was the case. And so, they got up and moved, and I had three seats to myself. Nice.

Now, you might think that I was unfair to my fellow passengers, that despite the fact that they were stinking peasant scum, they hadn’t earned that treatment from me. Well, you’d be right. But this is the Chinese Way. It’s the basis upon which their entire society is structured. I merely played their own game, though of course, as a Laowai, I played it better than they did. And THAT is the real point of this ramble.

Oh yes, and Ms T? You lose.

25 Responses to “Victory!”

  1. Jorge said

    Pretty funny, except for the anti-American jabs (jealous much?).

    Keep it up!

  2. justrecently said

    I’d say the British have copied that American technology, as soon as it was available. Available from the U.S. of A., of course. The British of the old days were a bit like the catholic church. If there was no hell, they needed to invent it, to keep their parsons’ promise.

    As for playing according to the rules of the Chinese game, I can see your point, ML – but I’d have called it a day after getting that aisle seat. (That’s how I usually handle such issues anyway, because the Chinese way would get me addicted, if I kept playing by the rules of that game too long.) After all, my name is JR, not Ms T.

  3. 欢迎fuckyfucky said


    “This is why, incidentally, Great Britain built a world-spanning empire based on blood, toil, tears and sweat, and the U.S. built a world-spanning empire based on dropping bombs on some poor bastard from thirty thousand feet where it’s safe.”

  4. Bill said

    ” they hadn’t earned that treatment from me.” wtf does this mean? After 5000 years and still un-civilized, pray tell what harsh treatment they have not earned….
    Nice story-look for a reblog….

  5. […] (reportedly) being unfair to some fellow travellers on a plane, he defended his conduct this way: Well, you’d be right. But this is the Chinese Way. It’s the basis upon which their entire society is structured. I […]

  6. foarp said

    Yes. That inner glow as you steadfastly refuse to drop your seat onto the knees of the person behind – a refusal I have seen everyone in every other civilised country in the whole world make. The zen feeling of watching people stand up and literally run for the exit as soon as the plane touches down as you politely remain seated, to your neighbour’s frustration. The knowledge that as bad as one might be in other areas of one’s life where one is an executive flunky at OmniMegaEvil Corp, at least there are some things which will not be stooped to.

    I guess it was to be expected Mylaowai old chap, but you’ve finally gone native. Mooncakes, “happy every day”, saying that doing something is not “convenient” when what you really mean is that you can’t be arsed – these are the prospects that await – and the decline does not stop there: Eventually you will end up in the Bookworm competing in translation slams.

    PS – Fly EVA whenever possible, I’ve always gotten an upgrade from them and they really do rock.

  7. KHI said

    You should just get you stinking arse out of China and stop being a stink to yourself and the peasants.

  8. justrecently said

    Before urbanized Chinese nationals here get upset about peasants being called “stinking peasants” by a foreigner, they should lean back and think back to when they referred to their rural compatriots in a derogative way themselves last time. Chances are that it hasn’t been too long ago.

    • KHI said

      So, you are joining the the “urbanised” lot like you are their compatriots? Get your arse out and stop being a pain to yourself. Nobody’s forcing you to stay in China. It’s supposed be a free world out there for you red monkeys -THAT’s what your “urbanised” compatriots and even peasants call you.

      • justrecently said

        Nobody’s forcing you to stay in China.

        That’s why I’m not there, KHI. On the other hand, nobody is forced to please you in particular with what he writes, just as nobody is forced to stay in China. When you enter a country, follow its customs – 入国随俗.

      • 0112337 said

        JR, 俺们儿孙儿啊,听爷爷饿跟你江一江!在俺们儿宗国,那句话影该四 “入乡随俗”,不四 “入国随俗”。俺们儿宗国有恨多民族,恨多习俗,任多敌大,四不宁鬼纳一起地!



      • justrecently said

        It’s 讲一讲, and 不是 not 江一江, or 不四, 0112337. Besides, I suggest that you stick to English, as it is the language of most people reading and writing here, and as it won’t pose that many challenges to most of us, and to yourself. 入国随俗 – do as the Romans do.

      • MyLaowai said

        When in Roma, be a Visigoth.

      • 0112337 said

        @ JR, Ha!

        What does it sound like? What was my point?

        @laowai, be the Hun. You want to be the first domino, not the second to last.

      • justrecently said

        It’s an old Chinese tradition to interpret one’s spelling errors as art.

  9. justrecently said

    Oh, and 0112337? Most people in the countries you mentioned are neither unemployed, nor broke. Taking all the generations of past centuries together, most of them have been dead for a long time, of course. Just as in any country.

  10. 0112337 said

    Well aren’t you smug there JR…how are you handling the charity runs for your fellow Europeans? Have you been paying up like a good German?

    Lets see, according to what I saw, Spain has a current unemployment rate near 25%, and it’s even higher among their younger generation. That’s not bad, just 1 out of 4 people, at least the Spaniards are generally smaller in stature (compared to Americans) so many of them can be stuffed into one flat tolerably well.

    Their numbers living in poverty is about 20%, not bad either, just 2 out of 10 can’t eat, so the majority can still drink their cappuccinos under the sun, suck on bull testicles, and whine about existentialist guilt and the African poverty crisis, thanks to you.

    Italy and U.K. have slightly lower ones, about 8%, which is good. That’s only about 8 out of 100 people, but their poverty rate is simply outstanding. Again, thanks to fine stalwart German volks like you, the Italians are still eating and singing songs on their gondolas in the city sewage cannals.

    And the Greeks! Who can forget those fine, loving chaps, firm, dependable experts of the fields. They managed to steal/borrow enough to maintain only 17% unemployment rate, which begs one to ask, given the AMPLE opportunity, why didn’t they steal MORE? Alas, despite their greatest efforts at legalized stealing from your country, they still have a 20% poverty rate. 2 out of 10 people, despite their best efforts at thievery, still can’t eat without picking up the plow. Eh…..

    You know what schoolmaster? According to my colleagues, who are experts at soothsaying and devil worship, Those numbers shall skyrocket to new heights if Greece defaults. The union of laziness will surely fall apart, and your people shall be freed from communal bondage. Nice little German girls can once again run free to the Carribbean during the summer time without worry and guilt…

    More banks may die, due to their retarded speculation of Greek debt, which, once defaulted, will create a bigger crisis than the subprime mortgage debacle. Economies in the developed world will grind to a halt, and people in other countries around you will march on the streets shirtless, bare breasted, perhaps with woad paint, and shouting war cries and obscenities like they once did 2,000 years ago. They will run on the banks, loot them, maim the workers, which will eventually lead to mass rape, gay sex, death, and destruction.

    Get yourself a freedom gun, an AK-47, the gun of the international proletariat, and be prepared.

    One shot, one kill.

    True kill.

  11. justrecently said

    Your long story has only proved my point, 0112337: most people in the countries you mentioned are neither unemployed, nor broke.

    I seem to remember – and your comment above suggests that, too – that you are in the banking business. Don’t cry, 0112337. Your job will be safe, as long as my country, along with many others, remains in a position to provide guaranteesfor most of the loans you and your bosses handed out so happily.

    In short: I’m not smug. I appreciate the fact that German exporters profited from the European trade patterns until they became unsustainable. But you are still a crybaby:
    Get yourself a freedom gun, an AK-47 – sheesh.

  12. […] who possess that Red Guard zeal responsible for the deaths of millions of their countrymen. Read the article here, but he is describing the act of purchasing a ticket from a Chinese ticket agent excerpt from here: […]

Leave a Reply to justrecently Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: