Salesmanship, the Singaporean way.
Last week, I had one of the strangest encounters with a salesperson I can recall. I was passing by a shop that purported to sell educational materials for young children, when a saleswoman approached me, perhaps upon noting my three year old son, Tiarnan, beside me. "********", she began in Chinese words I didn't understand.
"English please.", I replied.
"NO ENGLISH.", she countered, emphatically and then proceeded to try to sell me this educational tool entirely in Mandarin. It was bizarre both to watch and to listen to.
The only thing I understood was what her finger was pointing at, as it toured the device pointing things out and spouting Chinese. She was most passionate - or at least driven - by what she was saying. Her words were clearly well practised and she went through them as if giving the performance of her life. The oddest thing about it was that she was oblivious to my evident incomprehension.
I stood and watched her sales performance not out of any understanding, but out of amazement that she would try to sell me in a language I had already indicated that I did not understand. She proceeded as if, of course, I must understand Chinese because EVERYBODY understood Chinese. She proceeded as if my request for English, was some kind of trick to deprive her of a sale.
The entire explanation of the product took about three to four minutes. In that time, I recognized not a single word. The only understandings I grasped were those that were obvious from watching the machine in action. Her commentary provided no meaning for me, nor any improvement in her chances of making a sale.
I gathered from her fluency in Chinese, but complete lack of English, that she must be a PRC - a person from the People's Republic of China.
At the end of her presentation, she did not make a sale. How could she, when I had not understood a word? Yet, that had not dissuaded her from doing so, in an unknown (to me) language.
However, I will say this: it was a worthwhile experience simply to be able to watch her earnest determination to make a sale, despite not sharing a common language.
At the same time, it does show how ridiculously pervasive the presence of PRCs is becoming in Singapore. Not only are they not adjusting, properly, to Singapore - but as this woman made clear, they expect local people to speak to them in Chinese. It doesn't take much insight to see that a deluge of Chinese immigrants, like this saleswoman, armed with little English, but great determination to speak Chinese, could undermine Singapore's status as an English speaking country. After all, many English speaking Singaporeans are leaving - and who is replacing them but NON-English speaking PRCs.
I thought the whole incident worthy of record because it is the first time in my life that someone has tried to sell me something, in an English speaking country, in a language not my own - despite every indication that English was required. I am left to wonder: how common will such moments become with the ever increasing influx of PRCs into Singapore?
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to:http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.
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