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Building positive international relations

I had a cool experience at the bank today. I needed to transfer money back to the states to make sure I can pay my mortgage next month. I'm sending enough for two months so I can do this every other month.


The bank wasn't horribly busy because I got there a bit earlier on a Monday. I sat down after grabbing a number out of a machine. Actually, it felt like I got the royal treatment. They noticed the giant American walk in and went into full "interpreter" mode. Mad scramble to find the one person in the bank that speaks "some" English. I was guided through some initial paperwork that had to be in triplicate. I had brought my own pre-filled-in form, but had to redo it in triplicate. Apparently I didn't get that memo about the TPS reports (looking directly at Durk right now wondering if he gets it).


I sat down to wait for my teller. My number was next. It's sort of crazy to watch the people that work here make a fuss from one customer to the next. They look like a swarm of worker bees. The elevated volumes and the rapid speech adds to the effect as they emphatically point while directing each other's attention to different items on paper and computer screens.


And then this older gentleman sits down a seat away from me. He's next after me. Much older. He's got the brown spots all over his scalp. Grandfather must have been 90. Perhaps older. We're the only two waiting and there's really only one working teller at the moment. My transaction is going to take some time to process. I don't want to make him wait along time. So I open my translator app and...



I made sure to hold my phone with both hands as is the custom to show honor to the person receiving the message. The young lady in the pants suit with high heels smiled at me in acknowledgement and I sat back down. She told the elderly gentlemen that he was next. He looked confused as he looked at the number on his little slip of paper. She explained. He struggled to get up and made his way towards me. No words. Just a deep bow of his head and a smile that said thanks. I made a sort of praying gesture with my hands and bowed my head too. No idea why. It just felt right. Easily the highlight of my day. Here he is with the teller.



And then it hit me. That was a big deal for me. And then I felt like a schmuck. There are people that do this everyday and don't have to write about it in their blog with a "hey everybody look at me being nice" sort of thing. I dunno. Maybe I'm playing up the fantasy of dreaming I'm representing Americans in a foreign land letting all the Chinese folk know we're not all self centered. I got two people taken care of today. Just a billion or so to go.


Added note. It was a good feeling to refer to the man as grandfather as is the custom here for the locals.





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Hello David! I’m so proud of you. First, you addressed the older gentleman as “爷爷”---your Chinese was perfect in both language and culture. Second, when 爷爷 gave you a head bow and you 合十(hé shí, praying gesture with your hands)back to him——at this moment, both of you communicated with 真心(zhēn xīn, true heart ), which way beyond any words or languages. I was deeply touched by this moment. Your kindness indicates that “Respect the elders and love the young”is the common virtue in both Chinese and American culture. We do need more and more stories like this blog posted to warm up the cold world. Hope you enjoy your life in China! —-Lei

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Mike Durkee
Mike Durkee
Oct 12, 2022

Actually caught the movie reference... I was on the struggle bus for a second, ok three (I knew I had heard something similar at some point in time, many brain cells have gone by the wayside since that movie). AND that was a cool thing you did for the older gentleman.... in pointing it out it will make us conscious of doing a deliberate good act. Would be a much better world if we all tried to practice kindness and respect for one another on a minute by minute basis.

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beer5
beer5
Oct 12, 2022

Never be ashamed of being cool to another human being. Good stuff Shick!

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Mending the China-America division one gesture at a time. Sec of State Shick! Nicely

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David Shick!
David Shick!
Oct 15, 2022
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Still think I would be a better Chief of Staff. You need me to make a problem go away? Say no more.

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