PDA

View Full Version : I got a problem


ninman
05-30-2010, 06:43 PM
So I live in this old building in Shanghai right, and one day I was mopping my floor and I accidentally spilled over the bucket of water I was using, which maybe spilled around 3 or 4 litres of water on the floor. I live on the 3rd floor, and within about 5 minutes of me spilling the water my downstairs neighbour started banging on my door and was shouting at me very angrily telling me that water was coming through to her apartment.

Not wanting to deal with this angry old woman I simply removed her from my home and continued cleaning up the mess. Having not anticipated that buildings in Shanghai were so crappy I mopped up some of the water and tried to spread the rest of it over my floor, because I thought I could maybe use it to help clean the floor, and later one I was going to use a cloth to wipe up the excess.

So I'm on my hands and knees with paper towels trying to dry my floor when my landlords mother comes to my house and again tells me the exact same thing I'm then told I have to go downstairs to see the damaged that I caused (which of course means I can't dry my floor). So I can't be bothered talking to these people because their anger has reached irrational levels so I simply go back to my flat without saying anything and continue to dry my floor.

Moments later my landlord comes to my flat and again tells me the same thing. You see they seemed to be of the opinion that I threw the water on the floor deliberately and didn't know how to use a mop properly. Now they are demanding that I pay to repair this woman's roof and buy her a new TV. I'm leaving Shanghai to return to the UK in 6 weeks and I cannot understand how people can have such weird thoughts. They interpret silence as not understanding what's being said, irrational levels of anger as polite conversation, and lots of water on the floor as not a spillage but a deliberate act. Not only that they don't seem to understand that the quality of the building is so poor. In a normal building I would have had to clog my sink up and leave it running over night before it started to leak downstairs, but apparently here water goes through like a sieve. What do you think I should do?

SoBad
05-30-2010, 06:51 PM
Engage a local friend to help you deal with the situation, immediately. Inspect damage to roof and TV in their presence and with their support.

ninman
05-30-2010, 07:00 PM
Engage a local friend to help you deal with the situation, immediately. Inspect damage to roof and TV in their presence and with their support.

Well I told my teacher the full story and she went and spoke to my landlords mum and I just listened to their conversation in disbelief. This is what my landlords mum said to her (remember she has my version of events also).

"He was cleaning his apartment and he started throwing water on the floor to clean it. He doesn't know how to use a mop properly, then we tried to explain it to him but he didn't understand what we were talking about."

"But he doesn't think it was his fault"

"Oh it definitely was his fault, he threw water on the floor, he needs to learn how to use a mop properly."

I was shocked that my teacher didn't say something along the lines of, "but this building is really old and he just spilled a bucket of water over by accident, how was he supposed to know that it would start running through to the apartment below immediately. In the UK that doesn't happen because buildings are made out of more than cardboard."

West Coast Ace
05-30-2010, 07:05 PM
What SoBad said. And inspect the lease; ask people you work with - I assume there are some natives where you work - what the basic rules/laws are. For all we know, you are liable. In the US I'm pretty sure the landlord would be responsible for the roof since his/her building was so poorly made/maintained. And the woman would be responsible for her TV - you're expected to have Renter's Insurance.

Any tips on the tennis scene? I've been coming over for the Masters Cup and now the Masters 1000 since 2005 - had some good/some bad experiences finding places to play and people to hit with.

SoBad
05-30-2010, 07:12 PM
Well, I would suggest engaging a personal friend (someone who really likes you), rather than a professional relation. So engage a personal local friend, and then in your discussion with the landlord/neighbour, try to focus on the damage claims (roof and TV), rather than allowing the counterparty to take the initiative by focusing on the minutiae of floor cleaning techniques and piling onto that with ethnocentric stereotypes. The onus is on the neighbour to prove that a perfectly functioning TV set was destroyed completely as a direct result of your actions and by no fault of the building management, and same goes for the roof, etc.

ninman
05-30-2010, 07:13 PM
What SoBad said. And inspect the lease; ask people you work with - I assume there are some natives where you work - what the basic rules/laws are. For all we know, you are liable. In the US I'm pretty sure the landlord would be responsible for the roof since his/her building was so poorly made/maintained. And the woman would be responsible for her TV - you're expected to have Renter's Insurance.

Any tips on the tennis scene? I've been coming over for the Masters Cup and now the Masters 1000 since 2005 - had some good/some bad experiences finding places to play and people to hit with.

Don't have a clue, I just watch tennis on TV, don't play it. Everything is very commercialised in China, which means there aren't any public courts you have to pay for everything.

I have spoken to a local person online about this, and the end story is this time I don't have to pay for anything, but they said basically they are just using this as an excuse and I should talk to the building management about the ceiling. I should also be careful because she might break her TV deliberately and then claim it was my fault.

This local Shanghainese person I know said I'm very unlucky because those people were very aggressive and rude to me, and if I was staying here longer I should move house because you don't want neighbours like that. Basically their thought is you spilled the water accidentally or not, therefore you caused the damage so you have to pay for it. That's pretty much the Chinese attitude, forget insurance just give me money. Basically my friends advice was if they asked me for money just give it to them because you don't want to start an argument, thankfully they won't this time.

My teachers advice, they are old people, they weren't in my house when it happened, so they just assume that young people, especially young white people are ******** and don't know how to mop a floor. In future, just be more careful. But yeah they do have a building manager so if it really got bad I could talk to him, because he is responsible for maintaining the building. But in China it all comes down to money, I'm white and therefore rich, so they'd try to suck money out of me somehow, forget rules and procedures, especially forget insurance.

Tina
05-30-2010, 07:21 PM
Message Deleted. You already knew the solution.

West Coast Ace
05-30-2010, 07:32 PM
...and the end story is this time I don't have to pay for anything, ...Glad that's the result.

Hope the 6 weeks go smoothly.

What do you think? Pretty incredible city, eh? I have a love/hate with Shanghai. Young people are great - and as you've found, the old people can be a huge pain.

ninman
05-30-2010, 08:39 PM
Glad that's the result.

Hope the 6 weeks go smoothly.

What do you think? Pretty incredible city, eh? I have a love/hate with Shanghai. Young people are great - and as you've found, the old people can be a huge pain.

Living here I'm no where as enamoured with it as a visitor might be. There are lots of things I like, but there are many things I certainly hate. For example, in summer every gets cockroaches in their houses, regardless of how clean it is. When people see you are a foreigner they assume several things about you, you don't speak Chinese, you definitely speak English, and you are a rich tourist.

I've witnessed the police beat up a random guy in the street during a new year party for no reason at all. Everybody else stood around laughing and taking pictures. I've also witnessed car accidents, and had clashes of not culture, but just complete failures of logic and common sense. For example my ex-gf thought she had a vaginal infection and would not see a doctor about it because it was too embarrassing, she also didn't know how to use a morning after pill.

Anything that you would think makes a place better, cleaner streets, better built homes, cockroach free enviroments, rude behaviour and so on, are all put down to "cultural differences", all of it. There is also propaganda absoloutely everywhere, for months and months all we've been hearing about is expo, expo, expo.

I've also witnessed extreme cases of animal cruelty, and there's of course the censored internet, which is slow at the best of times, and if you turn on vpn it gets even worse. You also live in the knowledge that if you have a problem like the one I've had you have no one to turn to, no help at all. I couldn't even ask the British consulate for help, not that they could help me even if they wanted to. Because there's so much corruption, and disregard for any rules (not that the rules make any sense anyway), if you have a problem, you are on your own.

As far as things I like, I like a lot of the old Chinese culture and I enjoy reading old Chinese novels, and visiting temples and things. But China portrays this image, and as a tourist you will feel filled with that image of how good China is, but if you scratch beneath the surface you find the real China, and it's not a pretty picture.