How to be a Winner at Chinese Ikea

One of the things on my “40 Before 40” list was going to an Ikea store in China. I’ve heard all about the madness that occurs, nongmin gong sleeping in the beds, nai nais showing up and chilling in a living room to chat all day, etc. It sounded really weird and like it would be one of those bizarre experiences that could only happen here. For comparison’s sake, I went to an Ikea in the US earlier this summer. I’d never been to one before, but I found the experience truly rage inducing. The way they have the store set up so you have to walk through EVERYTHING and then you have to find a way to remember what you wanted so that you can go on an expedition through the MASSIVE warehouse to find it. God help you if you forget where you parked. So the store itself isn’t my cup of tea, but what about the people in it? I didn’t see anyone sleeping in a display bed or people relaxing in living room displays as if they lived there. However, I did notice that literally no parent in the store even tried to control their kids. Anyone under the age of 15 was running around like they were in a giant play room, which I guess means they felt at home, which I guess means Ikea achieved their objective with their cozy little displays. I don’t know, but it pissed me off. My experience in American Ikea made me more scared than curious about going to Chinese Ikea. I thought that if a handful (relatively speaking) of Americans acting like assholes in a store could make it so painful to be there, then what happens when you take that handful and multiply it times 1000? That and the fact that it’s still really hot and humid here, so I figured an Ikea filled to the brim with smelly people would make it that much awesomer. I was scared to go. Because I don’t have a death wish, I knew I would not be going to Ikea on a weekend. I made a friend agree to go with me and I had wanted to go in the afternoon, thinking maybe it wouldn’t be so crowded with people at work, but my friend has a job. She was’t able to get off work and meet me at Ikea until 9pm. As it turns out, that, my friends is the secret. There were about 50 people in the entire store, most of them employees and the rest were mostly foreigners who clearly were in on the secret of how to avoid a shit show at Chinese Ikea. It was amazing. The walk ways were empty, we were able to rush right through the displays (pro tip- I’d looked online and already knew exactly what I wanted to buy) and went straight to the warehouse to get the things I needed. I am now the proud owner of a memory foam mattress top and life is good. I kind of feel like I cheated though. I’m sure I’ll have to go back eventually and karma will get me back.

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Use Your Words!

Alright, so I have a lot of work to be doing.  I have a paper to write about the differences/similarities between Chinese interpretation of international treaties and domestic laws.  The problem is I feel like I’ve taken enough classes on related subjects that I should be able to just write it and quote myself as the source, but I have a feeling that my teacher would see it differently.  Basically, I’m procrastinating and just now I realized that I spilled food on my shirt at lunch and when changing shirts, I put on a shirt that reminded me of a slightly funny incident that occurred a few weeks ago when I was on my way to the Liu De Hua concert.

I was riding the subway and I was wearing this green button up shirt that is all loose and flowy and really good for fat days.  I typically leave the top two buttons undone and since the buttons are spaced a little farther apart than a lot of shirts, this results in it being maybe a little on the “low cut” side.  Since the shirt is so lose though, there’s a lot of fabric and you can’t see anything anyway.  Alright, so I was riding the subway and there was this really weird lady sitting across from me on the train.  She kept flapping her hands around in my line of sight and when I would look at her, she would put her hand over her heart and give me this really weirdly desperate look.  She was kind of moving her mouth, but no words were coming out.  I had no idea what she was trying to say.  My friends were confused too and came to the conclusion that maybe she wasn’t quite right in the head or that she was trying to tell me that she loved me.  This went on for about 15 stops and I was starting to get a little weirded out, so I quit making eye contact with her.  She continued.  Finally, she stands up to get off the train and she yells at me in Chinese “YOUR BUTTONS ARE UNDONE!”  We couldn’t stop laughing.  It turned out that her weird motions and mouthing of words was her attempt at stealthily telling me that my shirt buttons were undone and she was just trying to help a sister out.  My shirt being too revealing was a matter of opinion in this case, maybe a cultural or generational difference, but she sure would have looked less silly if she’d just used her words from the beginning.  We all thought she was mentally handicapped, but no…she was just pretty sure that there was no way that we’d understand Chinese.  I appreciate the attempt to help me out though, most Chinese people wouldn’t have said anything.  I once made friends with a girl when I walked past her on the street and noticed that her dress was completely unzipped and I could see her undies and a lot of skin.  I told her that her dress was unzipped and she said “Thank you so much for telling me!  I’ve walked almost two kilometers and no one else has said anything!”  Maybe if the lady on the train had used her words, we’d be best friends right now.