Omtitolt: a disease suffered by many Chinese people

After a careful inspection for about half an hour, the only staff of this mobile phone repair store, who is also its boss and in his early 30s, told me to come back the next afternoon. He said he would need a part which is at his home, to make my phone detect SIM cards.

This is the only mobile phone repair store on the bustling street of Huai’an I live by, and on its wall hanging a notice, saying “even if you choose to not repair your phone, you should pay 10 yuan for disassembling it.” The handwriting is crooked, just like the face of the boss, and on the opposite wall there is a calligraphy, which writes “天道酬勤” – “God rewards the diligent” and is just as awkward.

Anyhow, we’ve made a deal that the repair fee is 90 yuan.

I went back on the dusk of next day, but the boss told me to “wait for a while”, he was busy testing a laptop and another mobile phone.

I stood leaning on the glass counter for about 15 minutes and asked again, “have you repaired my mobile phone?” – I have no idea if it has ever been repaired or not.

The boss said, “I’m looking into your phone now.”

This is discouraging because that means he hadn’t finishing repairing it.

“But you told me to take it this afternoon.” It was getting darker and I didn’t want to be chilled in his little store with the door widely opened and no heating provided.

Giving no reply, the boss continued to bury his head into a small hill of mobile phones and components. I had to keep on waiting, so was the other two customers.

After aimlessly waiting for another 20 minutes, I couldn’t help asking, “When will it be finished?”

“I’ve just got the electronic map…Why don’t you come back in 30 minutes? You live nearby, right?”

“Yes, but I cannot just always have time for phone repairing.”

“Well, come back in 30 minutes, oh no, 1 hour.”

I didn’t go back that evening.

The next afternoon, I dropped by the store, and the boss pronounced his final judgment, “This phone cannot use any 4G card, it’s made for 3G card, that’s the problem, I cannot do anything with it.”

“Oh…then I guess I don’t need to pay for it.”

“No, you don’t.”

I thanked him for his work, took the useless phone and went out of the store, but went back after a few steps.

I tried to find a cheap mobile phone for my new phone card – the store also sells low-end phones and my new card is only used to receive calls and send WeChat messages. but most of them are feature phones, which can detect a 4G card but cannot run any apps, including WeChat.

Finally, the boss handed out a second-hand smartphone, which looks pretty new, and asked for 260 yuan. After two rounds of bargaining, I cut the price to 200 yuan, and also got a charge cable for free. During this process, the boss is watching a TV series on his tablet, and responded to my questions selectively.

The bargaining more or less changed my opinion about the boss, one day before, I thought he’s a dishonest guy who pays no attention to other’s time, but now, I tended to assume that he didn’t intend to be act that way, or to be more precisely, he’s got a disease called “One more thing is inferior to one less thing”, which is a famous Chinese saying opposite to many motivational Chinese idioms, it means when people have less things to do, they get better lives. I’m abbreviating it into “omtitolt” and regard it as a disease name.

According to my experiences in different cities, this disease is common among small retailers and governmental personnel. Two typical symptoms are: automatically not responding to any words not profitable, and reflexively refusing any unprofitable requirements.

Another recent example is a clerk working in a local township government of Huai’an. I rent an office from their office building, but later found an air conditioner unit for another office installed inside my one, which is very noisy.

When I firstly raised my concern to the clerk who signed my lease agreement, she rejected immediately by saying that such installation is applied to every room of the building – two room shares one box for air conditioner external units. So she couldn’t do anything about it.

But several days later, I found that’s not true, all the rooms on my floor has its own box for the unit.

I felt fooled and asked her to move the unit back to the next room or outside on the wall, but she told me that no external unit of air conditioner is permitted to be installed on the external of this building. This made me angrier because any sighted people can see the external wall of the building is full of such units.

Finally she had no excuse and promised me that she will “do her best” to solve this problem.

Several days later, the unit was moved out, but the noise is still disturbing. This time she said she would escalate this issue to another office, and see what they can do.

Such attitude is far better than the previous one, which is commonly see in governmental institutions. Many people working there are used to buckpassing, being very good at escaping from duties than getting things resolved.

So when you come across this disease in China, which is usually suffered by the two groups mentioned above, repeat your requirements and be tough; otherwise, your issue would never get resolved.