All I Want to do Is Play Ping Pong

You can probably imagine how excited I was to get in several good games of ping pong, my favorite sport, while I’m in China. But I haven’t seen a SINGLE PERSON playing. Apparently it’s only big in universities.

With only a couple more days left here, I resolved to find a game. In my hotel there’s a ping pong table but, alas, I have no one to play with and no one was around. So I headed over to a gym that was recommend to me. Sure enough, there was a table and paddles. First I did my workout (bike, treadmill, weights, elliptical) and then I resolved to find a playing mate.

No obvious candidates in the sparsely populated gym. There were of course 15 staff / trainers standing around doing nothing. I went up to one of the trainers and told him I wanted to play ping pong.

Six of them gathered and talked to decide how to fulfill my request. They said, “You want ping-pong?” I said I wanted ping pong, yes. The English speaking trainer came back and said, unfortunately, their boss won’t let them play ping pong with me because they’re supposed to be working.

I would have fought harder but I had already used my negotiating power to lower the daily fee from 98 to 50 yuan (my first successful negotiation in China).

Then, oddly, she came back and handed me two rackets and a ball. I walked over the table and waited awkwardly for five minutes. WTF is going on? Why can’t one of them just take a break for 10 minutes and give me their best stuff? Finally a woman came over and said “I’m very sorry, we’re not allowed to play since we must work.” I said, “Couldn’t you ‘train’ me on how to hold the racket?” She didn’t understand. I gave her back the paddles, embarrassed, and left the gym.

I feel like that kid who goes around and says “Will you be my friend?”

I’m sure if i was 5 inches shorter and 30 lbs lighter i would have had an opponent within minutes. What some call “our boss won’t let us” I call “the intimidation factor.” 🙂

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