Yesterday evening at around midnight I went to Family Mart, a big convenience store chain, next to an MRT Station to buy my dinner – a salad, rice with egg, and strawberry soy milk. When I was about to pay, I looked at the shop clerk and saw that his eyes were closed. He seemed to be asleep asleep. ‘Ni hao,’ I said. He woke up. ‘Ni hao,’ I repeated.
He had dark circles under his eyes, and as he was scanning the products and putting them into a bag he moved sluggishly. In Taiwan, they usually give you plastic cutlery, but the clerk forgot it. ‘Wo yao yi zhi chazi’ (I need a fork), I said smiling. ‘Ah, chazi,’ he slurred. I also had to remind him to give me a straw and chopsticks.
I’m not writing this post to criticise this guy. Actually, I smiled at him and when he apologised I said it didn’t matter. I really understand that convenience store clerks who do the night shift have a pretty tough time. Probably he hadn’t slept much before, or he was too tired. So I don’t mind if he was not fast or efficient.
However, when I returned home I read an article about a similar, but far more extreme situation.
A few days ago a video went viral on Youtube. A shop clerk at Family Mart was filmed while he was lying on the floor fast asleep behind the counter. An old man wanted to pay a drink and called the clerk, but he didn’t wake up. The man who was filming threw something at the clerk, who finally came round. He struggled to get up, and reluctantly scanned the drink. ‘170 yuan’, he said. But he got the wrong price. ’20 yuan!’ cried the old man in protest. The man asked for a packet of cigarettes, but the clerk took the wrong one. In the end, he insulted the customer, told him to go away and went back to sleeping.
The video caused a stir online. Some people said that the clerk tarnished the name of Family Mart and that he should be fired. Others, however, suggested that the whole scene was made up, that the clerk, the man behind the camera and the customer had agreed to shoot this funny video.
The Family Mart clerk, a 20-year-old man from Southern Taiwan, apologised on his Facebook profile, asking people to stop insulting him. But a spokesperson of the company said they will investigate the matter and dismiss him should he be found guilty of any wrongdoing.