Saturday, June 5, 2010
My 5-Part McDonalds Adventure
I had only been to McDonalds once this semester (the only western food in Weinan other than KFC, which I just don't like). It tastes good, but I always feel kind of gross afterwards, and it certainly did not mix well with morning sickness. But lately I had been craving a good milkshake (good in this case meaning “the only one around”). I also had quizzes to grade and thought it might be a nice diversion to mix up the environment (with air-conditioning being a big plus). You could say it was a five-part adventure.
1. Free Cup
It turned out to be totally worth it because not only did the milkshake live up to my expectations, we got a free Coca-cola/World Cup glass with our meal! For some reason, I found this very exciting. It's not that I care about the World Cup or really need another glass, but it's a nice glass. In that old Coca-cola/soda fountain shape. Real glass. And they just gave it to us! Way better than a Happy Meal toy.
While at McDonalds, we saw a couple of the other foreigners who teach at a different school in Weinan. We seem to run into each other just about every time I've been at McD's, so that wasn't unexpected. What I didn't expect to see was two separate, never-before-seen foreign men. I stared hard at both but of course didn't talk to them because that would have been awkward. (I did try to not obviously stare at them, at least while they were looking. But when I first saw them, I did stare for a minute because it took my brain a while to process, “Something is strange about this, what could it be?...they look a bit different...OH! It's a foreigner! What in the world?). It really is strange to see random foreigners wondering around in Weinan. I know it's not one of the dozen that lives here, so what could they be doing here? It's not really a place you just drop by for no reason.
So that was the first interesting experience. We also saw three of our students. We don't usually see students there because it's so expensive. One of them came over to talk with us and we marveled together at the strange foreigners, appraised their appearance, and speculated as to what they were doing. Sometimes it's just nice to be the one doing the staring. To be the one that belongs here and gaze suspiciously at the outsider. You can forget that to everyone else, you are and will always be just as much of an outsider. The other people in the restaurant were probably having a great day. Seven foreigners, very Westerners looking foreigners, in one day. How often does that happen?
Some kids settled into a table next to us, bringing with them little baby rabbits! I mean, sure they were jumping around on the table and that can't be totally sanitary, but they were really cute. So little. I tried not to think about how long they would/wouldn't live. After a while the rabbits got relegated to the floor, cornered behind a skateboard, and food replaced them on the table. The kids did considerately bring in some grass to spread on the floor, just in case the rabbits were hungry too. Foreigners, rabbits...it was all very distracting. McDonalds is such a happening place.
I tried to concentrate on the Chinglish quizzes I was grading. Sometimes I would get distracted by the quizzes and the funny answers students would put. The quiz contained a variety of “Chinglish” phrases (weird/incorrect things students often say) we had gone over in class, and they had to write the correct phrase. Most of them were either correct or were same-old boring Chinglish, but a few came up with some interesting ways to change the sentences.
One phrase they had to correct was, “I'm just making a kidding,” which should have been changed to “I'm just joking,” or “I'm just kidding” or something.
Several students changed it to, “I'm just for fun!” and one wrote, “I'm just making a kid.” Not quite the same...