I decided yesterday that I needed another pair of black pants, I’ve got several already, but aside from the weekend, it’s pretty much all I wear. So yesterday I moseyed on down to the Zellers-esque store that’s relatively close to my apartment.
I’ve been here a month and a half and have had trouble on several other occasions when trying to by items at the store, so I went in expecting to have to deal with certain externalities. In retrospect, I should have probably gone with someone, but I personally hate shopping for clothing (In and out, as fast as possible is my motto) and the idea of bringing along someone to buy simple black trousers just seemed a little too extreme. “I can do this on my own” was the attitude I was taking. I’d been to this store several times before and knew exactly where the clothing department was and knew the approximate prices. It should have been no problem.
I soon discovered that purchasing even the most basic of clothing items can be a wild and tedious experience when you don’t know the language.
Being the idiot that I am, I didn’t even consider the possibility that the sizing system here would be completely different. It is, like everything else, much different. I had no idea what size I was, so I thought if I just stared at the pants long enough like a dumb foreigner, someone would help me. It worked. Within thirty seconds three employees were wrapping tape measures around my waist. A suitable size was found, and I proceeded to the incredibly small fitting room where I soon discovered that while the waist size was adequate, the pants were about 4 centimeters too long.
From what I understand, trousers in China are made with different waist sizes but all have a standardized length. But no worries. There is an in house tailor who will resize and hem one’s newly purchased clothing free of charge. Out came the measuring tapes. The whole process of purchasing a pair of trousers took approximately 40 minutes, but I’m sure it was extremely entertaining for the employees as well as the customers.
I now had a new pair of custom sized and tailored trousers. Despite the recent events, at this time I thought it would be a good time to retire my old belt which really isn’t pulling its weight as a trouser retaining device. Again, I thought this would be a rather simple procedure. A belt…fairly common item, from a fairly common store.
So I found a belt. The width was a little less than what I would have liked, but no big deal. A little long, but all of the belts I’d ever owned have been too big. I’d just pull out the ole’ Swiss Army and go to work. No big deal.
Apparently though, belts follow the same formula as trousers in China, and the tailor is also prepared for this as well. I was tracked down at the cashier and escorted back to the tailor where once again, the measuring tapes were produced. My belt was broken into its component pieces, trimmed and resized with new slots.
It is getting cold in Nanjing, and I had wanted to buy a new sweater, but I just couldn’t bring myself to enter the sweater section. If the sleeves were too long, they might re-knit the whole thing.
In sports today Team Bryan hammered The Spammers with 12 individual kills. “We didn’t even get one in” an un-identified player from The Spammers was reported as saying “I guess they just wanted it more”.
Yes we did.