I would like for everyone to kindly take notice of the picture posted above. Now imagine that man completely red (not dressed in red, but actually red himself … red skinned) and naked. Okay, don’t actually picture him naked. That’s a little awkward. As is the story I’m about to tell.
This past weekend David and I went electronics shopping. The weekend before, we purchased some living room furniture and ended up with a voucher for one million off of a four million rupiah purchase in their electronics department. (Now before you think we’re really rolling in dough as international teachers, realize that one million rupiah is equivalent to a little bit less than a hundred bucks.) This voucher came at a good time because our inherited DVD player had just broken, and the TV provided by our landlord is about as deep as it is wide … in other words, probably from 1996.
We journeyed out to the mall (because everything is a journey in Jakarta) and headed up to the Ikea-eque super store, Informa, where we intended to purchase said electronics. Let me paint the scene for you:
As we walk into the store, the main display consists of a series of multi-colored figurines. Not too out of the ordinary for a department store, right? Well, these figurines depict male gymnasts (no women for some reason … are they not as impressive?) contorting themselves in various poses. There is also a collection of strange animal figurines, most notable a Dalmatian standing on his hind legs in a very human like manor. Oddly, however, instead of the usual white with black spots, this dog is red with black spots. Quite the interior decorating statement, let me tell you.
But back to the gymnasts. My eye catches the bright red figure frozen in the pose pictured above. How impressive, right? I mean, that strength! That balancing skill! I metaphorically elbow David and ask, “Hey, don’t you think we need this in our house??”
“Oh, I was thinking more of the Dalmatian …” he responds.
And then the Informa gods decide to punish us for our snark.
I set the figurine back down on the display table and then watch as Mr. Naked Red Gymnast’s feet begin to tip. Actually, it all happens so fast; all I really see are jagged red legs several inches away from their dismembered red body …
A sales clerk rushes up to us, and I bend down to help pick up the pieces, trying to explain (and understand) what just happened. While her tone was almost apologetic, her words most certainly were not.
“Oh … you have to pay.”
You break it, you buy it … learned the hard way … to the tune of 500,000 rupiah.
Let’s just say that Indonesian customer service doesn’t care much about serving the customer. Now had I broken say a vase or something normal by handling it improperly, I would understand the policy. But I wasn’t reckless. I set it down carefully. However, it was a gymnast balancing on a pommel horse! (Well, actually he was balancing on a tiny square platform, but that only proves my point even more.) That pose is incredibly difficult for a human; why would anyone think a figurine would have an easier time balancing?? I cannot be blamed for the naked red gymnast’s untimely demise. It’s not my fault he lost his balance.
Despite my protests and even an “instant replay” video review, the ruling on the “floor” was confirmed. I did manage to make enough of a case to be offered a 30% discount on my “purchase” (of the gymnast, not our electronics). We paid the full amount and took our electronic business elsewhere.
David and I have experienced plenty of culture shock these past several weeks. There are some wonderful, lovely facets of our new adventure here. Then there are some really trying times. Thank you to all who are praying and to those who have offered much needed encouragement. We are slowly but surely finding our way.