I was in Chengdu last week and visited the new Jinsha Site Museum, literally built on the archeological site of the Jinsha Culture, part of the ancient Shu Kingdom, which existed from 1200 to 650 BC.
The site was discovered in February 2001 during building excavation work for a new housing development.
The museum complements the Sanxingdui museum some 50 kilometres away, which I visited in 2007.
There are two main buildings on the site, one housing many of the over 6000 artifacts that were found during excavations, the other housing one of the main excavation areas, the Ritual Site, where visitors can watch on-going work.
I was in the one of the main exhibition rooms looking at a display of gold objects found on the site like the one above. I was aware of several very loud tour guides who move their charges from display to display while they shout at them though small portable pa systems.
Suddenly my concentration was disturbed by a heavy nudge in the back and I turned round to see one of the guides backing into my translator who she gave a similar nudge, and beckoned her charges to form a semi-circle around her.
We were where she wanted to be and we were going to have to move away so she, clearly the most important person in the museum at the time, could have our space.
Of course there was plenty of other space she could have stood within the arc of 5 display cabinets and she wasn’t even going to talk about the display I was looking at. So much to the amazement of the dozen or so in her group, I gave a similar nudge back and said in English “don’t you dare push me”. ”Sorry, sorry” came the reply, at which point my translator rounded on her with a ferocious tirade in English and Mandarin, demanding her number and telling her and the now increasing group of onlookers that it was our entrance fees that kept her in a job. This for the guide was losing face big time and more abject apologies followed.
In the absence of any real concept of customer service, many people in employment have a totally dismissive attitude towards the people on whom their employment depends.