We all have problems in our daily lives and we all have our own way of solving them.
I laughed when I first saw this set of International Guidelines for how different cultures go about solving problems. You can decide for yourself based on your own experiences but let me tell you what I’ve learned after living in China for a year.
There are no problems in China. It’s a very low drama kind of culture. “They” approach things with a very, lets not get all worked up kind of attitude. Let’s deal with what we actually have control over and leave the rest to… well, let’s just not talk about it.
There is no national 24 hour news feed that fuels people’s anxieties or opinions. There is access to western news channels like CNN and BBC but if they broadcast anything that may cause or stir up any “drama” the TV just goes black. No problem.
Air quality issues? Not a problem. We have an app on our phone that we check each day to see what the air quality index is in Shanghai. Most days you can see the pollution. Some days you can taste it. And other days, you should just stay inside.
The app shows 2 updates – one posted by the U.S. Consulate and the other from the City of Shanghai government. Almost daily, the Consulate post 20 to 30 points higher, using language like Very Unhealthy where the local government post Moderately Polluted. No problem.
I’ve noticed when talking with people who have limited english in their vocabulary, that they have standard, scripted responses to any of my questions. “No problem.” “It’s Okay.” and “I know.” Here’s an example, “Do you have tonic water?” response, “No problem.” The store clerk will point to sparkling water on the shelf, in the aisle where I’m standing. I try again, where they state “it’s okay.” I explain in my most obnoxious, American, let’s send in the drones, way of louder and slower “T-O-N-I-C W-A-T-E-R” to which they respond “I know. No problem. It’s okay.” And you know what? They’re right. They do know. It’s not a problem and it will be okay. We’ll drink the gin straight.
There’s nothing more evident in the No Problem zone than transportation. This country has it nailed. You need to move your furniture from one apartment to another? No problem. My buddies got a bike and we can just stack it high and he can ride it through the streets of Shanghai during rush hour.
“What’s that?” “You have an antique piece that’s been in your family for centuries?” “No problem.” “I’ll load it on top of the mattress for protection.”
You want some house plants for your apartment? “No problem.” Don’t have a way of getting them from the store? “I know.” Not sure which one will fit and I may want some smaller ones as well. “It’s okay.” “I’ll bring the entire store on the back of my bike.”
And before you go getting all high and mighty while gnawing on that strip of bacon, these little piggies are indeed headed to market. We do, in the good old U. S. of A, also transport pigs. Ever been to Arkansas? It’s just here in China the truck is an open trailer where in Little Rock, the product is in an enclosed container with holes drilled in the side for ventilation. Square Melons, but I’ll move on.
But there’s nothing better and more brilliant than the restaurant home delivery service known as Sherpa’s. One can login to Sherpa’s, view take out menus from hundreds of restaurants from all around the city, place an order and within 30 to 45 minutes the food shows up at your door. Motor scooters with bright orange boxes fly around the city picking up food and delivering to your apartment. Same price as ordering at the restaurant and remember there’s no tipping here.
Oh and by the way, they’ll deliver beers as well, with or without your food order. I wonder if they have tonic water? I’ll need to check.
So whatever your need. No problem. Whatever you perceive as a problem. It’s okay. China’s got you covered. I know.