A Dutch friend of mine asked me for help: her boss needed a translator for his business trip to Hangzhour. I recommended my friend Yin.
A few weeks later, I got a message from Yin.
Y: The Dutch boss is so jaw-droppingly shrewd!
D: What makes you say so?
Y: Are all the Dutch like that?
D: Well, I don’t think so. But Dutch are generally born to possess the business knack. They are good at maths and budgeting.
Y: You know what? Their hotel room cost ¥1000 (ca €150) per night, but they hardly ate decent meals. Only a snack for every lunch, such as the typical Chinese street food. If I was her, on a journey to a foreign country like China, I would have made a pig of myself. Okay, I have to admit I’m no business woman, just a foodie.
D: They are just used to a quick lunch. No big deal. Anything else that struck you?
Y: Yes! She kept asking for samples wherever she went to and she managed to get them all the time! Let me summarize her magic formula: foreigner in China + decent behavior + asking for samples = many free products. I feel the Chinese have an inherent worship to the foreigners.
D: What do you mean exactly?
Y: That Dutch lady does tea business. She visited many tea suppliers and asked for samples and business cards. The Chinese gave her samples for free with great pleasure. If it were me alone, I am sure I would only get cold shoulders.
D: Hmm. I think I’ve worked out a different winning formula for Chinese doing business in China: decent appearance + a Western companion + asking for samples = many free products.
Y: You are more Dutch than the Dutch!
D: Let me teach you one Dutch word: gratis. Say it to that Dutch woman tomorrow. I bet she’ll burst into laughter from the bottom of her heart.
Y: Alas today is the last day. Although they treated me very well and I like them, I don’t think Holland the country for me. I prefer to live with foodies.
After an MSc in Wageningen, a year in the Student Council and a year of working in the Netherlands, Derek is back in China. With his Wageningen diploma, he found a job in Beijing. And he's back blogging for Resource.