It’s not the first time I’ve ranted about this particular phenomenon in modern Chinese society, so I’ll tone it done and keep everything as reasonable and rant-free as possible. Tell me: Am I the only one who sees anything wrong in this situation?

I walk into a restaurant with my boss and gk. It’s a pretty fancy restaurant, and with all the fancy restaurant bullshit. Meaning: We get to our table. A waiter completely ignores my boss and pulls my chair out and stands stoops there waiting to help me take my jacket off, all while I’m moving further away from him and trying to get my jacket off without this snivelling little git getting so much as a finger on it. I had to tell him I can do it myself before he got the message.

Let’s make this as clear as possible: No member of the staff was paying even the slightest bit of attention to my boss. He pulled his own chair out, took his jacket off and slung it over the back of his chair, and sat down without anybody paying even the slightest bit of attention to him. I had to fend off this snivelling little git who was apparently determined to bow and fawn and scrape at my feet.

To make it clearer: My boss was dressed casual, but nice. I was in my usual jeans that should probably be in the washing machine, with an old polar fleece jacket to hold off the autumn chill, and a shirt that does not count as casual. gk was dressed just as casually as I was. I would’ve thought that anybody taking even the casualest glance at this situation would’ve immediately picked my boss as the senior of the group, and I certainly would’ve thought that he was the one most deserving of extra attention.

But no, doesn’t matter how skody he may look, White Boy gets all the attention. Doesn’t matter if he’s obviously the boss, my boss is Chinese and therefore is ignored when accompanied by White Boy.

Have I made this clear enough? There is something very sickeningly wrong when people grovel at my feet simply because of my skin colour while completely ignoring my boss and my colleague because of their skin colour. It’s especially sickening when I am the foreigner and my companions are local. Dumb as this may sound: I can understand and accept it more when they get better treatment than me because they’re locals and I’m a foreigner. It’s still wrong that way, but at least it makes some kind of sense.

So just grow a fucking backbone and stop grovelling at people’s feet just ‘cos they’re white. Understood?

Anyway, the food was surprisingly good for a fancy restaurant. Still, the 回锅肉 was all 肥  and no 肉, but 回锅肉 is one of those dishes that some do well and the rest completely screw up. It should be half fat, half meat, and crispy in texture. My wife manages a pretty good 回锅肉. I think I should just stick to eating it at home. But otherwise pretty decent, which is unusual for such an expensive restaurant.

Usually, the higher the price, the worse the food. That’s not to say that cheap restaurants are all good, because most of them are dodgy as hell. I mean, the fancier the restaurant, the more ridiculously over-refined the food is, to the point where at the fanciest places you might as well just eat the menu- it’s just as pretty as the rubbish that they bring to your table, but probably more nutritious and certainly more filling. But this place we dined at tonight was expensive, but actually quite good.

And dinner finished up with a dish that I ordered accidentally- I mean, I saw it on the menu and pointed it out to gk because it had an odd name, and somehow it wound up being ordered. I didn’t actually want to order it, because on a menu the name was actually a little scary- 文房四å®? (the four treasures of the scholar- brush, paper, ink stick, ink stone). Anyway, it arrived, on a miniature writing desk. A real, wooden brush handle with bristles made of some kind of vegetable- radish, I think, shredded and shaped appropriately. Paper made of some kind of pancake- rice flour, by the looks. Ink stick and stamp where sticky rice with some kind of sweet, fruity thing, shaped into the appropriate rectangles with an appropriately coloured coating. There was a saucer with a tomato and chilli sauce as ink for the stamp- my boss used the brush and that sauce to try and write on the paper- it didn’t work. It all looked really cool. Pity it didn’t taste quite as good as it looked. Still, not bad, just not as tasty as cool-looking.

8 Responses to “am I the only one who sees something wrong here?”

  1. Hai Says:

    What does gk stand for?

  2. John Says:

    gk is the initials of someone’s name.

    That situation with your boss at the restaurant was clearly extremely awkward and embarrassing. Hopefully he recognised that the staff were at fault, not you.

    Guess you won’t be going back there again.

  3. wangbo Says:

    hai: as John says, gk is the initials of a name. I don’t want to write her full name to protect her privacy.

    John: I’m in no hurry to go back because it’s way over west of Xidan and not cheap. So far as I could tell- and I did look- my boss was oblivious of the situation I was in. Quite possibly he just had the tact and good sense to not notice. As I said, I did make it clear to the snivelling little git that he should get lost. Fast. And he did disappear. Anyway, my boss spends a lot of time entertaining foreigners, so I’m sure he’s seen this kind of thing before.

  4. Rob Says:

    Hi Chris, experience sounds awful and unfortunately strangely familiar. I would however, like to congratulate you on including the word ‘skody’ in your post…I haven’t heard that word for a long time…quite quirky really.;o)

  5. wangbo Says:

    Thanks Rob, I work hard to include random weird words in my posts. Sometimes.

  6. Matt Schiavenza - Dinners- Where Food Quality Doesn’t Matter Says:

    […] mediocre to bad food remain very popular for the simple fact that the prices are high. And as Chris pointed out recently, this phenomenon isn’t limited to restaurants serving foreign […]

  7. Ben Ross Says:

    I have had the exact same experiences as Chris, and am curious how this concept developed. I think part of it is due to the emphasis on the concept of host/guest in Chinese culture. Interestingly enough, when I went to Xinjiang and Outer Mongolia this feeling of “love for whitey” was completely absent. This was quite refershing.

  8. wangbo Says:

    I dunno, Ben, you might have a point with the host/guest thing in Chinese culture, but then again, I’ve met plenty of Chinese people who behaved like gracious hosts without grovelling at my feet. The odd thing is it’s more often educated people or people in high class areas who feel the need to grovel.