Ross

Working in a restaurant as a receptionist sounds pretty easy. Working in a Chinese environment can sometimes get a wee bit demanding though.

No English!“

..blurted out at me this eldery Chinese lady and started to hunt down the room with a desperate volatile sight .

This is by far not the first time. I’m trying to indicate her to wait while I’m requesting remote help with a pleading look from one of the Chinese speaking staff ladies –  Ross. Followed by 5 minutes of a conversation sounding like „#?!&@#?!“, I’m wearingly drawing on a customer’s receipt and praying for an early ending.

„Chen!“ shouted suddenly Ross at me with a smile on her face.

„Chen what?“ I ask her in order to find out, what the hell she had just talked about with the customer.

„Chen. C. H. E. N.“

„That’s lovely but what am I suppose to do with that?“

„Booking Chen.“ continues Ross, whose English is equal to a 10 years old version of me. If it was about 2 months ago I’d probably explode. And perhaps, kill her. Now I’m just trying to take a deep breath, internally prepared for a flowery discussion.

„Which day?

„#?!&@#?!“

„Today?“

„#?!&@#?!… No, Sunday.“

„Right…“

Ross is incredibly warm-hearted, tiny older lady. Nevertheless, I try to sort of avoid her as much as I can. She has a fantastic quality – namely, she just cannot stay silent. And the fact that there is a language barrier as big as the Great Chinese Wall doesn’t discomfort her at all. She also has a tendency to think that she’s obliged (from an unknown reason) to share all the details of her life. During those few train journeys back home we spent together she’s already managed to enrich me with all the facts that would be enough to write her biography. I know that she comes from a smaller city, lost somewhere just outside Shanghai. I know that the number or years she’s been living in Australia is a double figure, still gamely resisting the English proficiency. I know how much her earrings were, what her Sunday lunch was like or how exactly her kitchen counter looks like. I remember all the pictures from her iPhone by heart, in chronological order plus each one of them with the story behind (limited by the Google translator abilities…).

She’s just one of the people you want to hate so much. She interrupts everybody, she speaks way too loud, she smacks and sputters. She wants to explain everything so hard even though she’s not capable of it. Her speech is something between mumbling and babblement just like for example “Chi mili.” which I figured out means 3 minutes or simply “Kikly, ki, ki..!” as a signal for me to run across the red crossing lights.

She does all the things you would most likely slap her for and you would really like to hate her but you simply can’t. You can’t hate somebody so genuine and honest. She’d do everything and anything for you. She’d go to the end of the world, back and forth, just to make you smile. She almost made me cry one day telling me how much she’s thankful to know me.

Endure, accept, respect and learn.

Interesting people you meet along the way, huh? Always.

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