Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Pofessor

So I threw a changeup with this one. You could say I was struck by inspiration after class on Monday. Walking out of our classroom I found this beauty of a sign on the door of an administrative wing of the building I was in.

Yes, it reads "Pofessor's Room." If this was in America, it would be on Fail Blog within seconds. But there is no such thing as Fail Blog in China. Probably because these "Fails" are lost on many people here. Also, China Fail Blog would crash the entire internet as we know it within seconds. So it's probably better for all surfers of the interwebs that this doesn't yet exist.

When I read this, I thought, "what is the hidden or double meaning here?" Could it just be a simple typo or misspelling? Probably, but that makes for a boring blog post and its more fun to think about someone purposefully writing it like this.

My first thought was they put it up there in protest. Po'fessors banded together and decided to show the world that they are under-appreciated and can barely provide for their families under their current cheapskate employers in the university system. As in the teachers union is "potesting" (HA!) the low salaries they receive for the long hours they work, often times doubling as Chinese students' surrogate mothers and fathers while off at college. One time I heard that my teacher couldn't answer a question after class because she had to immediately go and make sure that a student was keeping his room clean. True story. Think about that next time there's a teachers strike in the US.

The other theory goes that it was someone who thinks teachers are a little too uppity, always riding their high horses, shaming students if they do poorly on a speech or assigning however many pages of a textbook to memorize. Yes you read that correctly. Memorize. Often this is how many students study for a test and it results in incredible memories, but impractical problem solving opportunities and logical learning. So because of this, some guy at the sign factory decided to stick it to their least favorite teachers and made the signs to show foreign students (like yours truly) how poor their English is.

It could just also be a completely new position in the school offices. Another division of paper pushers who perhaps take the thousands of tiny passport photos I've given administrators over the years for visa purposes from one government official to the next in line. Maybe that's why it takes weeks, sometimes months for us to get our passports back.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Daily ridiculous products and slogans: Day 1

One of the major fascinations I've had since living in Asia is finding what I call "Trinket Shops." Maybe "trinket" is a misleading word. After all, this is what you expect to find aboard a pirate ship scattered on the floorboards around a trunk full of Spanish Doubloons.

What I mean by "trinket" is more of just little pieces of junk that are ordinary until you read what is written on them. Whether its a long non-sensical poem on the front of a notebook or some kind of novelty mug that isnt seen as a novelty item among our Asian friends here, these cultural trinkets are everywhere.

My first year here studying, during every class break, I'd go to the nearby convenience store and look for slogans that were found everywhere. One personal favorite was found on a basic composition notebook. It read:

"This is the most Comfortable notebook you have ever run into. You will feel like writing on it all the time."

And you know what? I DID! It really was the most comfortable notebook I had ever run into.

Things like this just make me laugh. You'd think it would wear off after a wh
ile, but it hasn't. I still go into random trinket stores in search of gems like this. So to commemorate this hobby of mine, I figured I'd post some on here along with my best guess as to what commentary can be gleaned from Chinese culture.
This weeks entry (pictured right) comes from a store I found at my old school when I visited last week to see some old friends who I met in 2007. As you can see, they are two coffee mugs side by side. They both have bowl hair cuts and crazy eyes. The lovestruck mug (as evidenced by the hearts in the eyes, blushing nose and the lack of dental care...love can make you do crazy things and neglect hygiene I guess...) mimics one vice that is not only ever-present in the US, but is also an idol here in Asia. In fact, Chinese college guys don't just ask if a girl wants to go on a date. They "profess their love to a girl" often times after only meeting her once or twice. It's like a bad Hugh Grant movie where Savage Garden plays softly in the background. Many Chinese guys can go into deep depression if a girl rejects his love plea.

Mug Number 2 evidences another cultural sin. It's understandable to see this one since it's near my Business and Finance University that I used to attend. This guy though loves money so much he can't help but scream it! As a bonus, the "O" in "MONEY" is a heart. This one is also every where on Chinese campuses. Many times this pursuit of the American Dream specifically drives students to study really hard and often join the Communist Party so that they can be set up with a good job though they are often unfulfilling paper pushing type jobs.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next one: The Wilderness Men mug.