Some friends and I go to a bar to have a few beersbefore dinner. Beer is expensive in Japan and so weorder a couple of pitchers to save a few preciousyen as opposed to bottles or individual pints.
We finish the beers, ask for the check, get it andleave some money on the table. It came to 4990 yen. We leave a 5000 yen note, thank the waiter andleave.
As we are an entire block away, we hear someone shouting behind us, and waving a piece ofpaper. We quickly realise it is the waiter from the bar.
He doesn't speak English, we don't speak Japanese but he had chased us out of the bar for anentire block to give us the 10 yen in change. This is worth around 0.06 (10c USD).
Tipping doesn't exist in Japan, or even simply leaving a tiny bit of change to save the waiter thehassle of getting you the change isn't a thing.
From there on in, I never tipped and waited for my change everywhere I went.
I was in Shenzhen, China, and a family stopped me and my wife and asked us (my friendinterpreted) if they could have their children take a photo with us. They were visitors from theinterior of the country, and had never seen an American before.
A similar thing happened in Shanghai. This time I was alone walking across the WaibaiduBridge, and a group of teenage girls asked me (using sign language this time) if I could posewith them for a photo. I was happy to oblige, and I recall them all giggling as the photo wastaken. (I wish I had a copy.)
Another surprise: I was in Pudong (the newly rebuilt area of Shanghai) and I couldn’t find theentrance to the subway (a two stop line between Pudong and the Bund). I approached a manwho was walking near me, showed him the ticket I had for the ride, and he nodded vigorously. Then he indicated I should follow. We went about 4 blocks; he pointed to the entrance, smiled, turned and walked away. I had no time to offer him a tip, which (in retrospect) was a goodthing because it might have been taken as an insult. I couldn’t believe that he had taken somuch trouble for a stranger.
Again, similar experiences repeated themselves across China. The friendliness of the people, their courtesy, and their eagerness to help was wonderful. I don’t know if that classifies as“cultural shock” but it made me think about the US, and how I rarely experience such courtesyin my own country.
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