Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Tidak Apa" Attitude

Before I was back home end of last year, I used to have a perception that I will experience an opposite culture shock the moment I step onto our Bolehland. Having grown up in a country like Malaysia for more than two decades had certainly made myself accustomed to the Malaysian lifestyle. Taking that into consideration, coming to a new country, where the traditional values are still very much preserved to some extend, especially in villages and official ceremonies, I expect myself to have difficulties coping with this sudden change in environment.
In spite of those worries, I didn't really have much problems adapting to the Japanese lifestyle since I got here early last year. Some will take as fast as just a few days but for some, they still couldn't get themselves conformed to the way people in their surroundings live their life even after several years staying in Japan. As for me, it was near to one month I guess. As time pass by, differences will definitely crop up when you got yourself to an unknown land like Japan. Unknown land may make it sound an understatement, but what I am trying to imply are the unknowns cultures, which you can only experience them when you got to the place itself.
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"Ulat" is too common to be spotted around Pudu bus terminal.
I don't think I have to go any further about the punctuality among the Japanese. Whenever there is an appointment, they expect you to be there at least five minutes before the scheduled time. Public transportation like buses and trains here are so punctual up to the minute. Whenever there is a delay, mainly caused by heavy snow during the winter, or an accident, they will apologise for the delay which is sometimes just a mere two-minute delay. Nothing surprising that I experienced the "tidak apa" attitude on my very first day of my return. The bus I was supposed to take to return to my hometown was delayed more than half an hour but this incident is too common to all of us already, I think. The cost of transportation in Malaysia is way cheaper compared to those in Japan but having said that, it doesn't mean that they can just ignore the quality of the service provided. Something is wrong here and action needs to be taken quickly to improve this matter.
However, I personally doubt that this going to happen in such a short term.
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The foreigners in Kuala Lumpur is close to out-numbering the locals nowadays. No wonder rape and murder cases don't seem to get any lesser.
When I first went for shopping in the early days in Japan, I felt as if the cashier tend to talk too much from what that is necessary. They will start with a greeting, totalling up the goods you are purchasing, receive and tell you the amount of money you are handing to them, and return the balance and again, tell you the amount they are returning it to you. That is not the end, as they will finish the transaction with a "thank you". I am not sure about other places, but when it comes to customer service, I can bet with you that Japan is among the top ones. Customers will always come first. That is how things should be like, unlike what we face at home. That is why I was quite amused with the way a particular girl served me when I was getting my phone prepaid card the other day. Perhaps you could say that it is because of how I take the importance of customer service seriously, after getting used to the near to perfect customer service in Japan for almost a year.
At the time I was at that shop, there were quite a number of customers which made her taking some time before noticing my presence there, only to ask me "Yes, want what?". I told her the specific card I would like to have and handed her the cash. This is the part that I was unsatisfied with. She practically took the ten ringgit note away from my hands without even looking at me. When she handed the prepaid card to me, it was the same thing. Worse still, it was without a simple gesture of "thank you". I wonder, is it very hard to utter those two words.
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Bunny smile by my lil cousin.
Worst comes to worst, a smile is better than none.


mg said...

customer service still suck in malaysia. also the customer's attitude sometimes doesn't help at all. it's always nicer to serve ang moh cos they are SOOO nice, polite and courteous towards the promoters/sales person. so u just can't help but to serve them well.

but of course, during my short working stint, i tried my best to serve as well as i can but some shops just tend to look down on some ppl hence the poor service.

or may be they were just having a rough day. ;)

and dun get me started on the public transport here. -__-ll

Anonymous said...

lol... i remember the MPH cashier tossed the plastic bag with my book inside to me at the counter.... she cant move her hands 10cm ahead just to pass it nicely to me...tsk tsk...

Anonymous said...

to much politeness and too much attention to details are some of the the thing we malaysian have to slowly adjust to in Japan..anyway, just to comment on your photo caption on blaming higher crime rate on increasing foreigner..I think it's just wrong to assume that, it's just like the Japanese who always assume that most crimes and violences were done by foreigner/gaijin, they don't want to accept the fact that Japanese do commit crimes..there were instances where in the Japanese media point their finger at foreigner whenever certain crimes happen but later it turnout to be Japanese...anyway nice blog..

Anonymous said...

at 1st i actually really so uncomfortable with those words and smile by waiters cashiers etc..
but then now just feel like..when they smile at u, just feel so nice..
no matter they smile with heart or not, it is just nice.

no need to be at msia..
i visited taiwan during summer holz..
already shocked by their service..
even a girl at airport counter can show u muka tak seronok when u wanna ask questions..
what i feel to hit her head with my luggage..

so..hey malaysia..u please continue boleh..

Anonymous said...

grass is always greener on the other side. or put it the malaysian way, hujan emas di bumi?tempat? lain, hujan batu di bumi sendiri. ok i forgot that part.:p

anyway it is, i always believe in changes and the changes always start from ourself. it's just human being ignorant letting grass grow greener on the other side, or not making gold rain in own places (gold not so important now, LCD display is lol)


calvin said...

@ michelleg:
talking about being professional here, they still have to treat their customers politely and in a proper way, even though they are having their rough day.

but this is the mentality that most of us malaysian tend to have towards the foreigners, especially the ang moh. we tend to look at them as one class above the rest, and give them a better treatment compared to the locals.

take for example, a malaysian guy and a english guy who happen to ask you on some directions. when they see it's a local who is asking them, they expect that local to know the directions just because they are locals, without considering the possibilities that some could come from out-station. on the other hand, they will try their best to give the best treatment to the ang moh. why is the double standard here?

to make things better, i guess effort should come from both sides, instead of putting the blame on one another.

calvin said...

@ kok hong:
you just experienced another poor customer service. but since this thing is quite common to us already, we usually will just ignore it and will not take much heart from it. still, it is something that should not be happening if we were to be a developed country.

calvin said...

@ sarawakian_in_aizujapan:
i think i have finally got used to the way how they treat their customers in japan. nowadays, i tend to look at the brighter sides of their customers service, instead of just lamenting on how unnecessary some of their actions and words are.

what i was trying to imply from that picture is that the number of foreigners are accessive in malaysia nowadays, and that is one of the reasons why many locals are jobless. the authority should limit the numbers of foreigners entering the country, like what our neigbours are doing right now. you don't see that many foreigners in singapore and thailand, do you?

the foreigners being the cause of the increase of crime rates in our country is just one of the examples of the bad side-effects from accessive number of them in the country. i do not put the blame solely on these foreigners as we know there is a fair share of crime cases commited by the locals as well.

i assume you to be one of the senpai, right?
mind doing some intro? :)

calvin said...

@ ns29:
like what i have mentioned, when you look on a different way, it is a good thing and should be taken as an example by those who deal with customer service back home. initially, when i first came here, i used to find that the way they treat their customer is quite annoying but now, i find it the opposite way.

it's amusing to hear that such thing is happening in taiwan. but there is nothing much we can do, but only to place our complain to those who are concerned. however, i doubt there will not be any much improvement, as these complains tend to be looked away, especially in our country.

that is why "malaysia apa pun boleh".

calvin said...

@ ben foo:
having said that, then i think we should learn from chameleon, so that we will be able to adapt to changes according to where we are living =P

by the way, it's hujan emas di negeri orang".

Anonymous said...

fair enough..well i'm not "one of the senpai"..just a fellow malaysian who happen to follow your i wish that during my time, JPA offer overseas program to Japan/Korea/US etc. for non-bumis, instead of just UK..

calvin said...

@ sarawakian_in_aizujapan:
jpa has been making changes on their policy through the years and it was just recently that overseas program has been opened to non-bumis and the choices of country have broaden up as well.

i guess you must be one of those silent readers out there. thanks for following my blog and i would be more than happy if you drop some comments or messages once in a while in my blog. at least i could know who are reading my blog. yoroshiku ne ^.-