China miniblog 2. The story of the loud Americans

So there I am, waiting for someone in a McDonald’s. Why McDonald’s of all places, you ask? Because they have wireless, and because the center of my life has left me there until she took care of some university business. I had no intention of eating there, mind you, so I got a coffee and the Cafe part, and sat there reading stuff on my tablet. Anyhow. I said hi in Mandarin, and thanked the barista in Mandarin. The rest of the communication was in English as these were the only two words I could master.

There were these two Americans entering the establishment. Middle aged, tall, in cargo shorts, and checkered shirts, the silly fisherman’s hat on their heads, and quite loud -the stereotypical American tourists. I sat there quite smugly (wearing my girlfriend’s father’s Armani shirt), thinking “the first thing these guys do when they arrive to China, the culinary capital of the world, is to go to a McDonald’s. Typical.” The hypocrisy did not escape my attention, but I kept saying to myself that I was only there for the web. This self-righteous smugness lasted about two minutes. One of the Americans turned to the barista and started talking to her in Mandarin. A lot. And she answered. And they laughed together.

I wanted to quietly disappear behind my tablet, and hide my burning face.

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