A valuable lesson

None of the clothes I brought with me fit anymore. After a month in Taiwan, my pants were a bit looser, so I used the one belt I’d brought to keep them up. Now it’s time. Time to run the dreaded gauntlet of clothing stores where there is nothing in my size! So, I’ll go find a new pair of pants. Definitely easier said than done. I’ve checked Costco (DKNY and Calvin Klein in size 0-8, $35 – $50 US). Next,  Sogo department store where  I actually found several options in a size that fits (CKs for almost 200 USD – yikes – and some equally spendy brands I’ve never heard of). I checked the stores on Nanjing on the way to the MRT. Nada. I felt like I’d walked into the petite department of EVERY store!

On the way to Wellcome to do grocery shopping, I see a clothing store and, ever hopeful, I stop in. Hey, this looks promising. The prices aren’t horrendous and the clothes look stylish. None of the staff speak English. Really? (I still find this odd, that adults in a progressive society don’t know even the basics of the language most parents here insist that their children learn.) It’s frustrating too because my Chinese is rudimentary at best (Lady, that one, how many money?). So, I browse the selection. The sales ladies have a unique method of telling whether pants will fit: they hold them up to a person’s NECK and drape the waist band around. If the ends meet behind the neck, it’s a possible fit. Hmmm….so I try a pair on and they are okay. Too bad there’s no lycra in the content and that they’re made in China.

On the way back from shopping I decide, what the heck, I’m losing weight so it won’t be long before the pants are a more comfortable fit plus they are on SALE. I buy them. Then the fun starts!

This morning, I try the pants (khaki capris with a black belt) on again, at home, and even though they fit, they aren’t that comfortable. Hang onto ’em or return ’em? By this afternoon, I decide to return ’em. No big deal, right? Walk around the corner, hand the pants + receipt to the mono-lingual sales staff, smile and walk away pantless. WRONG.

The staff acts like they don’t understand me (ok, probably technically true, but it can’t be the first time someone has returned something). The THREE sales ladies and one salesman speak among themselves while I try to discern what is being said. Then SL1 makes a phone call. To a manager to authorize a low value return? Apparently she has a friend whose English skills exist. I speak with someone on the phone. I’m told that they cannot do a return on a sales item. (Everything in the store is on sale.) I’m told that I must do an exchange (they don’t do gift certificates) and I must do it TODAY. The pants I have are their “largest” size (a US size 10, which for my height is SMALL) so exchanging for another pair won’t work. There are exactly 3, count ’em 3 t-shirts in the store in size 40 (the largest read:”my” size) and none of them appeal to me. In the meantime I call a friend of mine who speaks fluent Chinese and ask her to tell the sales staff I am not pleased. SL1 calls her friend who then explains that, oh wait, yes, I can do a return. SL2, 3 (and now 4) gather ’round smiling and saying sorry.

So, what did I learn? Lesson 1: don’t EVER buy anything that doesn’t fit me the way I want it to it. Lesson 2: don’t shop any establishment that doesn’t have at least one English-speaking sales person. ‘Nuff said?

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…

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