The other day I went to the bank of China and a counter clerk was there. He did everything quickly and accurately right after I told him what I want and I noticed he's only a trainee -- suggested by the nameplate he wore.
So I felt grateful for him for being so professional as a greenhand and decided to encourage him by a "thank you" and a smile or maybe a "Have a nice day!" in addition.
But as soon as he finished doing all the things, meanwhile I was just about to say the words to him, he turned away from the counter and press the button to notice next customer. During the whole period from the moment I said Hi till he turned away I was just standing there looking at him with a smile on my face. And when he was finishing, I was there ready for the "thank you", yet he just didn't look at me at all and also was wearing a "King face" like the King in playing cards.
I stood there for maybe 4 or 5 seconds and went away, without "thank you".
The feeling was: he didn't need the "thank you" from a customer and he didn't want to spend any more time on a customer he's finished serving.
It is quite different from what I experience in other places.
In HK, in Saipan, in US, when I finish at store or post office or banks, the clerks or shop girls all say to me "Have a nice day!" naturally. Or at least they smile to me -- even I already finish. And it seems to be their habit -- sometimes I wonder if they noticed themselves had said that. :)
So why seldom do I see smiling clerks in Shanghai? Going to big store like Parkson on Huaihai street or the Pacific Department Store, they don't smile to you spontaneously. Instead there are numb faces and tired ones with a man-made smile everywhere. Smile becomes so unusual that once I see a smiling face, I value that shop highly!
But on the other hand, I remember clearly one thing when I was in a buffet in US.
Everyone get their own fork, spoon, tissue and soft drink at the entrance from the resterant's employees. There were 8 of them, the employees, all African American seemed so exhausted. They had no expression at all and just ask everyone "What drink do you want?" like a machine. When the man asked me, I said hot tea. When he gave it to me, I said thank you with a big smile on my own face. I looked at him happily and said the "thank you" from bottom of my heart. And as he saw that, he returned me an understanding smile. Then he went back to his work, without expression again.
So what I'm thinking now is.. maybe the boy at Bank of China didn't smile just because he's not used to it. Not he didn't want to provide smiling service -- just people in Shanghai smile to each other quite unfrequently, in general.
When nobody smile to you during a long time, you will forget to smile to others. And those who don't smile won't get smile in return. :P
That might also be the reason why we see Chinese people always talk with westerners with smile. We smile to foreigners more than we do to our own fellowmen! Is that because westerners tend to smile frequently than we do? Very likely. ^^
I hope I will smile to people I meet everyday -- though it won't be easy. Sometimes I feel like being stupid, standing there smiling to someone who doesn't / won't smile back. What's worse is people might think I am really a stupid, smiling everywhere.
Well, but it's good. :) It seems silly but it's good. And it IS NOT silly, in fact.
em~ I'm going to smile more often. And hopefully people will smile to me someday~
How about you my friend? ;)