Trade-offs

The different cultural values for efficiency are sometimes frustrating or bewildering for Americans and I believe cause hurt feelings on the side of the Filipino people.  I cannot speak much to that side of things, except to say we have a new young friend who is something of a telemarketer for a U.S. Company and he’s young, flexible, adaptable, friendly, curious, engaging, and speaks excellent English, and he says he’s been doing his job for 8 years and he KNOWS it’s just the American way, but he still gets his feelings hurt and struggles not to take it personally when he gets an abrupt No, and a hang up on one of his cold calls.

As for the different cultural value for efficiency, that whole time is money idea (which makes no sense to most people who are not westerners)- let me illustrate:

 

Lots of restaurants here deliver.  McDonald’s even has an app.  You can download the app, check off what you want, give your address, and then fill in the large box of information to help the delivery guy find your address, because mostly, the address isn’t somewhere a stranger can find because there are not many street signs, houses might have numbers, but they won’t be in any sort of sequential order in most cases, and nobody can find anybody’s house without information like “Go to the Glorious Haven spa.  Turn left.   Drive a kilometer or so and then turn right at the first barrier with the Nogales for Office political sign you see.  Then turn left by the armoured car with no tires. Turn right at the next street.  That is our street.   The gate is brown.  The house next to us has yellow flowers on the fence.  There’s a sari-sari store across the street.  Never mind. Text us when you leave and we will wait for you at the corner.”

Then you wait for the phone calls.
“Ma’am-Sir,  I am sorry but as of now the quarter pounders with cheese are no more.  Would you like a chicken sandwich instead, sir.”  You tell them what you want instead of the QPw/cheese sandwiches.  Then you wait for the phone call.

“Ma’am/Sir, I am sorry but this branch does not have the apple soda ice cream floats.  Is Coke okay?” You tell them what you will have to drink instead, and hang up and then wait for the phone call.

“Ma’am-Sir, the soy chicken and rice is not available any more today. Would you like spaghetti and rice instead?”  You order two other McChickens because the Cherub cannot eat the spaghetti, and you’ll just take off the buns for her to eat the chicken patties.   Then hang up and wait for the phone call.
“Ma’am-Sir, I am sorry, but Vanilla iced coffee is not available.  We can send plain iced coffee, okay?”

You tell them to forget the coffee, you don’t want it.  Then you hang up and wait for the call.  This will come from a completely different employee because your refusal of coffee was too direct and hurt and embarrassed the previous employee so she’s in the bathroom crying and five other empoyees are soothing her and telling her it’s not her fault (which is true, it isn’t).

“Ma’am-Sir, the order is ready. IT will be 430 pesos, Can you tell me what bills you will pay with so we can send the right change?”

You might get a text or a call when the deliver guy is near, or you might just get an “Ayooooo” called outside your gate.

At last, you receive your order. It might only be 45 minutes later, and it wasn’t what you wanted. It will probably still be hot and it will be packed very well so that not a single drop of anything spills (they tape the lids to the cokes down, including across the hole.   But if you were craving quarter pounders, it’s a hard life, iddn’t it?

We discovered a wonderful new little restaurant very close to our house.  The food is great, the prices are amazing, the place is cute, and they told us they’d deliver for us and gave us the number.  They cook orders fresh when you place them, so it can take a long time to get your food.  Today I was visiting a friend I’ve been helping while she deals with some major life issues and getting ready to move and trying to gather paperwork for visas and so on- I treated us all to lunch and her Filipina friend and house helper made the call to place the order for us.  One of the things she ordered was a caramel coffee for my friend.  I heard her place the order, and I heard her repeat that there were two drinks, and one was a caramel coffee (the other was a Toffee Coffee Frappe, which rhymes with Sophi Kofi Crappy).  We gave the address.

Lots of places here don’t have visible, clear, street addresses.  Our street has a sign up now, but for the first year we were here, it didn’t, and it isn’t a street perpendicular to the main road.  You have kind of had to have some idea where it is in order to find it. But my friends’ house has an easy address.  She lives on one of the most well known roads in this barangay, down the street from a couple restaurants that have been written up by prestigious foody writers, and her house has a clear address on it.  My Filipina friend explained it and gave them directions.  They texted me fifteen minutes later to ask for some landmarks.  I gave two or three. They texted again to ask if were next to a particular restaurant.  I said no, we were on that street but several blocks down, and I gave the house number again.  When they brought the order, they parked one house up and across the street and texted me that they were in the area outside waiting.  There’s a real cultural discomfort with disturbing people by ringing a doorbell here, or so it seems to me.
There was no caramel coffee.  The Filipina lady with us came out and explained that there were two drinks,and one was a caramel coffee with ice.  The delivery person (who is also one of the owners) said she’d go back and get one and deliver it.

A few minutes later, she texted.  They don’t have caramel coffee on the menu at all. They never carry it.  They offered a substitute, which is fine.  If you are American, you are wondering why nobody told us they don’t have caramel coffee when we ordered, and why we weren’t told it wasn’t on the menu when it didn’t show up in our order.  I think if you are Filipino you don’t wonder about it, you just accept it and  carry on.

If you are American, you are kind of aggravated over the repeated calls and texts about things on the menu that aren’t available (how does McDonalds run out of Quarter Pounders with Cheese?!?!?!  It does not even compute) and not looking at house numbers.  You grouse and grumble a bit to yourself.  You think about how things should be done differently and people could say things more clearly, and it would all be better and more efficient like home, where….

McDonald’s doesn’t have apple soda ice cream floats at all, in any branch (and they are delicious). Nor do any branches of the yummy soy chicken that your local branch is sometimes out of. IN fact, mostly, there is nothing much on the menu the Cherub can eat.    Also, while you are having your private grouch session over inefficient delivery systems you are ignoring the reality that this is a novelty for you because in the U.S.  no McDonalds anywhere you have ever heard of will deliver at all, ever.  

The little local eatery with brilliant food combinations, great prices, sweet staff, and cute ambiance does not give you the owner’s own cell phone number,  handwritten on a card, so you can call and place a personal order which she will personally deliver for free. Not to mention, their chili bombs and morro coffee are calculated to induce a state of euphoria.

I’m okay with this trade-off after all.

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5 Comments

  1. Fatcat
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    If your friend doesn’t want me to hang up on him, he needs to STOP CALLING ME. I have been tortured and tormented by telemarketers for years. While my mom was alive and I was her caregiver, the phone calls for her were nearly always bad things, stressful situations, hospital visits, following the ambulance, falls, etc. and in between those stressful things, I would get one call after another from telemarketers. Every time the phone rings (still!) my blood pressure goes up, my heart rate rises and I go into a panicked state. If your friend doesn’t want to be hung up on by the Americans that he is tormenting, he needs to get an honorable job in an honorable profession and stop harassing people.

    End of rant.

    I do enjoy living vicariously through your blog and hearing about your adventures living in another country. You just struck a nerve there, can you tell?

    • Headmistress
      Posted January 14, 2018 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      I say telemarketing, because it is sales. But he works for a real estate company. And it is honorable here. 🙂

  2. Lisa Beth W.
    Posted January 14, 2018 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    The more you describe it, the more I think I’d like to live among Filipinos for a while. But then, I remember THE HEAT. Thanks for helping us to understand at least a little bit about the culture in the Philippines.

  3. Donna
    Posted January 15, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    We have a billboard by our house for McDonald’s delivery. You order online and then Uber picks it up and delivers it to you. I don’t know how many markets have it, but our city is not even in the top 50 for population, so I’m betting other bigger markets have it, too. Thought you’d want to know!

    • Headmistress
      Posted January 15, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      If uber picks it up isn’t that pricey? We do not have an extra charge for delivery, although we do tip the driver.

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