Expat Life: When It Rains
When it rains, it pours. I’ve been having a rough two weeks.
Lots of things have been going on with me physically. I’m ok. I broke out in 3″ hives on my back, neck and chest. It’s all stress related. It started two days ago and today is day 3 and thankfully it’s going away. I’ve been grinding my teeth even while I’m awake and that is just a terrible feeling both physically and emotionally.
So I’ve been a little emotional these days and today I went to the market and I asked the lady where to find mai fun noodles. She responded but I couldn’t understand her so I asked her if she could show me where it is. Then she pointed at her box of stuff she needs to stock and she screamed at me. Not yelling… pointing her finger at me then the box – full-out SCREAMING. I spoke to her in Chinese, she spoke to me in Chinese. I didn’t use English at all, only Chinese because I know most people don’t know English and I don’t expect them to. I did, however, expected a normal response. I get that I’m a foreigner but I don’t deserve to be yelled at like that for asking a question.
Then I went to the veggie stand and I was in line to get my things weighed and priced. An older lady came in front of me and knocked my veggie off the scale and put hers on there. I had been waiting in that line for a good 10 minutes so I wasn’t going to let her push me around. I took her veggies off and then I pointed to the line. She threw my veggies on the ground and got her stuff weighed and priced. The person pricing things didn’t care. I walked away.
I don’t have a thick skin at all. I cried. I think back to the times we were in NYC and I can’t even remember a time where I was treated that way. I hear my midwest and southern friends saying they heard NYC is a rude city. Honestly, it’s NOT a rude city. People are generally kind but busy and I’ve made some really amazing friends from NYC.
I normally wouldn’t give two craps about what happened at the grocery store today but with all the stress I’ve been having, it broke me down. The nicer, more expensive expat stores, obviously don’t have this problem. But they don’t sell Japanese sweet potatoes. I really wanted that today.
When will I ever get used to this? I guess I won’t, I guess I should start going to the expensive expat stores from now on. Or I should buckle down and grow thicker skin. But then again, I even get that on the subways here. People block the entrance to the train so that nobody can get out, so the people inside, push and shove. I’ve witnessed a number of fights between the pusher and the pushed. They shout, they push each other and then sometimes the local subway workers come and try to diffuse it. Sigh. This could all be avoided if they simply wait on the sides of the doors, let the people off first and then go in. That’s what we do in NYC
I came home, I put my groceries away and had afternoon tea. I steamed a mantou bun, made white earl grey tea the hubs got me in Singapore and an orange. I ate and drank in silence contemplating about how stressed I’ve been. I started to miss home and got sad about the stress I’ve been under.
Even though I had a few bad experiences at local stores, I can’t complain about Shanghai. The friends I made here are simply wonderful. Though, we’re not at the point of “hey guess what? I’m freaking stressed out and want to tell you my whole life story. Hugs?”. I sometimes wonder if I ever will have those kinds of friendships in my 30s?
Are we past the age where we can start new friendships and then they turn into super friendships?
Just like any city, there are good and bad people. Shanghai is just one example of that.
Right when I was feeling super down about being yelled at and having my veggies thrown on the floor… an old grandpa patted me on the back and said “xie xie” (thank you) over and over again for me holding the door open for him. He had the biggest smile on his face and so did I.