China Elevator Stories

“Mum, She’s A Foreigner”

A little girl starts to talk about me in an elevator in Shenzhen.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


A young woman and her three-year-old daughter enter the elevator right after me. I press the button for the 18th floor; the little girl stands tiptoe to press the button for the 15th floor.

The girl asks her mother: “Mum, why is the button for the 18th floor pressed?”
Her mother replies: “Auntie is living on the 18th floor.”
The girl then says: “Mum, she’s a foreigner. A foreigner.”
Her mother answers: “No, she’s not.”
The girl insists: “But she is a foreigner! Look, she’s a foreigner!”
Her mother, seemingly embarrassed, answers: “Okay, maybe you’re right. Come on, let’s go.”

Have people ever talked about you thinking you wouldn’t understand their language?

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