Please find other with this

Monday, February 8, 2016

Warning: Don't Leave Free Stuff Around Chinese People - The Culture of Hoarding

Whatever fits in one hand
I was recently travelling with some friends and as we were driving back from Boston, we stopped at a rest stop that had a McDonald's.  As we were eating our Big Mac and fries, we began reminiscing about how our parents would take massive amounts of napkins, plastic utensils and condiment packets every time they stopped at a rest stop. When I was younger, we use to have an entire drawer dedicated to McDonald sauce packets. The crazy thing was that most of the time, we never used the stuff that we took (except for the napkins and even those were used liberally).

As we continued to discuss the issues, we began to realize that this abuse of "free stuff" manifested itself in many other environments as well such as taking extra office supplies from work, plastic bags from the supermarket, amenities from hotels, any gift from any giveaway, etc. There seems to be almost something genetic that drives us to take as much free stuff as we can.

Caught red handed
Some people can argue that everyone likes free stuff but there seems to be a higher number of Chinese hoarders of free stuff than any other culture. There is actually a Facebook page about "Asians Who Take Too Many Napkins from Restaurants"

Here are some of the reasons why I think Chinese people engage in such behavior:

1) Chinese people have a competitive nature: There is a mentality that "If I don't take it, someone else is going to take it and I am not going to get any so let me take as much as I can". There seems to be a general feeling of scarcity and that you always want to take as much as you can because it is going to run out. You can see this anytime there is a panic in China (i.e. salt when Japan was hit by the tsunami and everyone was afraid of radiation).

2) Chinese people like to save: Whether it is money or ketchup packets, Chinese people like to save for a rainy day, just in case. They see the use in almost anything and they associate strongly with the pain of not taking something that might come in handy one day.

Give me that!
3) Chinese people don't like to seem stupid: When you don't take advantage of free stuff, Chinese people will usually view and actually call you out as being "stupid" for not taking what is being offerred for free. For most, it is this pressure of being left behind and having someone say, "I told you so" that drives them to feed into this madness.

It is exactly this type of abusive behavior that ruins these free conveniences for everyone. Most rest stops no longer offer sauce packets. In China, you need to bring your own tissues and toilet paper to many of the restaurants and most amenities that would be free here must be paid for in China (i.e. shopping bags). They say it is because they want to protect the environment but judging from the amount of pollution and waste I see from other sources, I believe it is because they know how Chinese people are when there is free stuff around.
Apparently Al Gore is on to us!

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