Day 8 – This Fan Looks Like It Was Built On A Boat
So I decided to save some money today and bought a couple of really cheap fans for our rooms, to help as the weather gets hotter. I went to the mall, and after 20 minutes of walking, almost 2 hours of buying the fans (yes, literally – I’ll explain later), and 3 hours of assembling them without instructions, they still look like they were built on a boat. 🙂 If you’re not from Romania, that means the Chinese were too busy building everything else that’s “Made in China” to worry about this particular item, so they just pulled it together on the boat coming here. It’s really chinzy and ugly… but it works.
Now, about the fan-buying experience. I’m still learning how everything works here when you buy stuff, and sometimes it’s a little exciting. In the mall there’s a huge store that sells pretty much everything electronic. It’s called Media World or something like that. Anyway, I needed some fans, a printer, and some laptop speakers, so I went shopping for the best quality and cheapest ones I could find. After looking around and finding some speakers that looked and sounded good, I picked them up, only to have a young Romanian man (Razvan) grab them from me and explain something sternly in Romanian. I told him, in Romanian, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I don’t speak Romanian very well.” So he explained to me in English that we had to get a “guarantee” for the item. I didn’t know what he meant so I just let him do what he had to do. What followed was almost 2 hours of running around at high speed from one department to another, following Razvan’s orders, picking up items, setting them down, opening up boxes, signing papers, negotiating return policies, waiting on clerks to run to the warehouse, etc. I got a good workout, and at the end of the 2 hours, I owned the items I was looking for, had made a new friend in Razvan, and had warranties filled out for all the items, guaranteeing their quality of construction.
Everything else I bought is great, but these fans definitely look like they were built on a boat. In fact, however, they were built on my rug. They came almost completely disassembled, and without instructions. Not that instructions would help much, because I didn’t have tools either. After trying to screw the fan base on using a tweezers, a steak knife, a butter knife, and a potato peeler, I gave up and asked one of our neighbors if he had a screwdriver. Lai is a really awesome neighbor. We met him earlier today, and not only does he have 2 big old Chinese goldfish and some sort of yellow bird, but he also had a screwdriver, which upped him on the awesomeness scale. Lai moved to Bucharest 20 years ago from China, still barely speaks Romanian, and never stops smiling.
Jessie and I went out to get a full load of groceries today, stocking up on all the essentials like flour and sugar, and on our way back we experienced our first “scolding of righteousness” (see here). Our arms were filled to the brim with grocery bags, we were trying to get on the elevator, and an older Romanian man came walking quickly at us asking us, “Where are you going?” I told him as best I could, and then he rifled into a 15-minute high-speed, super-animated monologue of Shakespearean proportions. His arms were flying everywhere, we interjected with useful phrases that signified our lack of understanding, like “Nu vorbesc Româneşte,” “Nu ştiu,” “Nu înţeleg,” and “Am fost jefuit,” but he kept talking faster and faster and getting angrier and angrier. Eventually, we calmed him down by telling him, “I understand. I’m sorry,” and he turned around with a look of disdain. I think he was upset about the party for Naomi last night. Too much noise I think.
Later, I told Lai about the incident. “Oh, don’t worry about that,” he comforted me, “Everyone is like that here. He doesn’t mean anything.” Then he added, “But be careful here. Romania is a crazy place. If you need anything, I am here for you.”