An incident on the streets of Chengdu has Chinese netizens thinking that maybe we can all get along together after all.
On Tuesday, an American teacher working in Chengdu stopped by a makeshift, roadside market where a 66-year-old granny surnamed Li was plying her wares, including various odds and ends and some second-hand clothes spread out on a blanket on the sidewalk. The foreign teacher, referred to by his Chinese surname Ma, wanted to buy a little something from Li, but, before he could do that, he carelessly knocked a bottle of red wine out of his bag. Causing the liquid to spill out and soak some of the clothes.
He immediately apologized profusely to Li, quickly taking out several hundred RMB in cash and offering it to her as compensation for the clothes he had ruined. However, Li refused to take the money.
“A few old pants aren’t worth much, there’s no need, Chinese people aren’t so cheap!” the granny said.
Eventually, the very polite stand-off ended when the American bought a pair of pants and Li charged him 20 yuan.
An onlooker recorded the event and reported it to a Sichuan Daily journalist. That reporter then decided to dig a little deeper on this big scoop. By talking to one of Li’s relatives, the reporter learned that the foreigner had bought some small items from Li before. He also learned that the American had actually managed to do quite a bit of damage to Li’s merchandise. Five articles of clothing were ruined by the red wine — two sweaters and three pairs of men’s trousers — the sweaters sold for 25 RMB, while the pants sold for 20 RMB. For Li and her small roadside “stall,” this was a fairly hefty loss. Still, a relative said that she considers it nothing more than a “small matter.”
The diligent reporter then reached out to the American teacher, who admitted that, “When she didn’t take the money, I felt uncomfortable,” but also brushed off the whole incident as a “small matter.” The Sichuan Daily reporter concluded by writing that while what had occurred may have been a “small matter,” it reflected the warmth and kindness of society.
Chinese netizens agreed. One Weibo post of the story has over 30,000 likes with users praising both sides for how they handled the situation. “Forgiving granny, courteous foreign teacher, I give you both a big thumbs up!” commented one netizen.
Maybe, for Chinese New Year, Li will receive a fat hongbao from her foreign friend.
[Images via Legal Evening News]