Explicit Instructions

I’m biking to work when I notice that my back brake is starting to give up. I am biking home (at 9:30 at night, in the rain…) when I notice the front one isn’t doing so well either. That’s ok, I think to myself, I don’t work tomorrow. I will make a quick trip to the bike shop and get it fixed up.
So the next morning I wake up, stare out the window for an hour wondering what in the world I am doing in China, then bike over to the bike shore where I had first bought it.
When I bought it a very nice person who spoke excellent English helped me pick it out, assemble it, and showed me the ins-and-outs of the thing. After my first wreck, the same guy helped me fix it up, free of charge. On this day I was hoping to run into the same guy. Well, when I arrived that guy was nowhere to be seen. Instead, there was some other dude. Now as I walked into the store and looked around this other clerk gave the immediate signs of resistance that I get when I walk into any store in China. First they groan, then they shake their head, and then they mutter something in Mandarin. My best guess is that they are saying ‘fuck off white face, I don’t want to help you’ or something to that effect (I once went into a restaurant and was told [in fluent English] that they didn’t speak English. This was before I had even sat down. Cab drives will slow down, see that you are not Chinese, then keep on driving). You learn to be insistent if you live over here. There isn’t much of a choice in the matter. So when the employee tried to shoo me away, I squeezed the brake, pointed to it, and he understood the problem. Great. He grabs my bike, brings it inside, and tightens my brake. While I am at it, I point to the gears, and have him fix that, which he does. Well, my day seems to be on a roll. I point to a bottle of oil and ask him to lube up my gears (you can take or leave that sentence, I’m not changing it) and he does that too. I know I don’t have to pay anything for the service (it comes with the cost of the bike, which was high) and he humbly says no. I leave the store, start biking home, and realize that the guy only tightened one brake.
I have been told this repeatedly and unfortunately I keep forgetting. In china you must be explicit with your instructions. I pointed to my brake (singular) and asked for it to be tightened. The guy is not going to think about this, as thinking is fucking hard. He is going to fix one brake, and fix one brake is exactly what happened. I don’t know why he thought there would be a situation where only one brake needed to be fixed, but that is what I got.

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