Cell phone, or Shou Ji (mobile phone) as being called in China, is a daily necessity in China. Everyone, I mean pretty much everyone from the migrant worker to company CEOs, got a cell phone, because they need to talk to someone. Yesterday, I got into a small incident because I don’t have a cell phone with me.
I went to Shanghai South Railway Station to pick up my wife, because she got my phone, I was without a phone. I waited outside the station as her train arrived. First, I asked a guy who is calling someone if I could borrow his phone for a minute. He was a nice guy and agreed. But obviously my wife did not follow my instruction and went to another exit, while I was anxiously waiting. The nice guy already met his friends and left. I had to ask for help from other “not too nice” people. First I asked a guy who look like a white collar worker, to add some incentice I offered one Yuan (CNY) which in highsight is not a good idea. The guy refused. I went to asked a middle aged lady, she refused too. So I was helpless. I saw a migrant worker who was text messaging and asked the same question. He looked at me suspicously. When I offered one Yuan, he said firmly “No”. I left hopeless, and said angrily “all right, I will offer $50”. That did the trick. The young boy realized I was probablly not a bad person, and he offered his phone free of charge. At the same time, my dear wife showed up and cleared my “falsed guilty”. I appoligized to the young boy couple times.
Frist, China has a huge trust problem in the society, some bad guys do a lot of tricks to take advantage of people in public places. So as word of caution normally we should not respond to someone ask for help on the street. Because it could be a trick.
Second, (probably a bit subtle but important point for me) I wish I could did the same thing to the white collar guy, I think deep in my heart I still have some presige over migrant workers, although I am one of them as I told my wife.