Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Game of Connect Four Cost me a lot more in China

After a long day of training, I returned to the Jin Mao Tower in Pudong, China. I sat at my desk admiring the view from the sixty-fourth floor window. The panorama is breath taking. I had nearly twenty feet of window from side-to-side and from ceiling to floor. My great view included the Hungpu River, a river with a highway of activity, it never sleeps. Please note that the rivers and lakes are not for swimming in China. For one, it is cold, and another, the water is dirty and full of liver flukes, but, again, what a view!

With over 9 million people living in Shanghai, I imagine I had a scenic look of at least half the population from above. The Jin Mao is the tallest building in China and I believe it the third tallest building in the world. Space is a premium. Most people in the city live in high rise buildings, in close proximity.

As I peered down to the street below the Jin Mao Tower I noticed a pub on the corner of the street. I decided to venture out and grab a beer. Entering the pub I noticed it was fairly vacant. I decided to sit at the bar and place an order. After a couple of sips of the ice cold brew, an exchange of English words (not fluent, but noteworthy), a Chinese bar maid pulls Connect Four from below the bar and asks me if I would like to play. Interestingly, I had never been asked to play a child’s game in a pub before. So I played a few games of Connect Four and exchanged English words. Catching me off guard, the Chinese bar maid asked if I would like to buy her a drink. I don’t frequent pubs that often, but again, I can’t remember if I have ever seen any “pub help” drinking while on duty. Of course, when in China, do as the Chinese, so I put another drink on my tab and continued playing.

A little later, the bartender asked for a drink, and then the table cleaner, and then the manager. When would all the shenanigans end? In Ireland, they call it, sionnachuighm and it is defined as, playing tricks on someone. Finally, I put my foot down and said “No.” I asked for my tab. When the tab arrived, I realized the shenanigans had cost me a bundle. To my amazement the tab came to $100.00 dollars for 4 drinks and 6 games of Connect Four. When I asked the manager about the tab she said, “You must pay for the ladies time.” What? Can you believe it? They required me to pay for the ladies time! I said, “In the U.S. we do not pay for a ladies time in a pub when we chit chat.” I then thought for a moment, or do we? All I can say is, “Buyer beware!” One beer in the wrong pub or mysterious Piano Bar may cost you far more than gold! I departed quickly, crossed the street, and climbed back into my safe tower, wondering how I had ever fallen for that scam. Even though I won a few of the rounds, I had lost the game!

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