Wei… Wei… Wei aka Phone Etiquette in China

Phone Etiquette China The phone rings. I pick it up and say, “Wei”. That’s what you do in
China. It means something like “Anybody there” or “Can you hear me”.
“Wei”, the person on the other side reacts. My Chinese is not that
fluent but I tend to give the conversation a go. Maybe I learn
something. My answer is “Wei”. By now, I guess, it should be
established that we are both here and can hear eachother.



The person on the other side seems to think differently and gets a
little impatient. “WEI”, he shouts. I am no pussy on the phone, so I
reply “WEI”. I mean, is it up to me to start asking him what he
wants….? Should I use my telepathic powers to guess why he is calling
me? Apparently I should. “What do you want”, I offer him. “Ni yao
shenme?” He seems to understand because he reacts with another strong
“WEI” and then feeling more comfortable asks, “Xiao Wang zai”. I take a
moment and realize I am not Little King. “Xiao Wang bu zai”, Little
Wang is not here, I utter. “WEI”, he shouts once more as though he is
not yet convinced. I repeat the last sentence.

Until now the conversation has been rather interesting but I am sure
the caller has better things to do. I help him a bit by telling him he
probably dialed the wrong number. “Ni da cuo le”. There is some silence
and then he hangs up. Not even a last “Wei”.

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