Posted by: 1of10boyz | October 11, 2013

没有 – Mei You = Not have

I am reminded again that nothing is easy in China. NOTHING.

I have two little projects that I have to have finished before the wife returns in a few days, complete the repair on my broken suitcase that I described in last week’s post and get the family pictures and frames hung back on the wall after I took them down and got all of them redone. I need a standard flat washer that is anywhere between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch so that I can spread the stress of the metal plate inside the suitcase over a slightly larger area that exceeds the original since that is where it was broken. I need a ferrule and stop for the picture frame wires so that I can crimp the wires and hang the pictures. I also realized that my flashlight that I bought on the Island of Borneo over the Chinese New Years celebration is needing a new battery, it is one of those standard 6 volt DC Alkaline batteries, nothing special.

I knew about the picture frame problem and the hanging issue before I left the US and got most of what I thought I would need but Lowes’ didn’t have enough of the little Ferrules that I needed. I looked on the little package and, of course, it is made in China. So, I believe that I can find what I need over here. Just in case I am wrong I get a couple of rolled pins to use just in case I can’t find what I need, I have an alternative.


You would use this to create a loop in the end of the cable to connect to the picture frame and to hold the picture to the wall.


Rather than the fancy and expensive ferrules, the cables could be passed through the pin hole and then feed back into it once or twice and then crimped. This would do the same thing as the fancy ferrule only it is cheaper.

The suitcase just needs a standard flat washer like you can find in EVERY hardware store in America, this is absolutely everywhere in America.

Basic flat washer for use with a bolt.

Basic flat washer for use with a bolt.

The flashlight needs a battery, 6v DC. Thousands upon thousands of stores in American have these and lots of them.

See these at the store in lots of stores in America.

Now, before we really start the story, everyone of these items that we are looking for, except the washer, has a stamp of the package or item that says “MADE IN CHINA”, and I am certain that I have sworn many a blue streak at some cheap crappy pot-metal washer, nut, or bolt that has been accused of being “Chinese junk” shipped to American to ruin our steel industry. So even though the washer isn’t going to be stamped “Made in China” when I get it I am quite certain it will actually be from here.

I have a chance to get out of the office today to go into our little town of 700,000 people and think I might be able to grab these simple items while one of my friends runs into the bank to get some paperwork so that they can buy a new car. Prior to my little “visit” here in China I would have estimated that this would be something that could be done before my friend could finish getting to the teller at the bank, having lived in China for 2.5 years I know that this might be an all day evolution. Really, it is going to be that difficult. I suspect that things are going to be difficult because they are throwing around the word for thing a lot. In Chinese 東西 Dong xi = Things, I hear it many many many times in the conversations about what we need to find today, that is never a good sign when the things you need to find don’t really have a good Chinese name and they get called things instead of a name.

I knew I was in trouble when neither my friend or my driver has ever seen a battery like the one I am looking for.  Imagine having never seen a 6 VDC battery, EVER.

I knew that the cable ferrule would be a challenge but figure that the rolled pin should be simple since we are really talking about a simple piece of tube that really only needs to be able to put two or three diameters of the picture cable in it and then squeezed with a pair of pliers to capture the cable ends and hold the picture to the wall. So we are looking to Jerry-rig this if necessary.

The washer should just be an after-thought, I mean it needs to be thin, flat and have a hole in the center. Not asking too much here for that one.

Since we all know that Bankers work the shortest hours we know that our first destination should be the bank, it is exactly 4:29pm when we roll into the bank parking lot and the bank is already locked and the bicycle cable lock is draped across the handles to make sure that you can’t get in. So, all my banker friends in America, the next time someone in the US complains about your work hours there in the US, remember that you are working harder and longer than your colleagues in China, at least a couple hours a day based on our experience today. If you are going to bank in China, probably should try to do it on your lunch break because it may be closed otherwise.

There is no one at any of the usual places to get batteries that has EVER seen a battery that is shaped like the one I have. No one has ever seen a standard 6 VDC Alkaline battery. So this is not going well today. The quest isn’t over, we will continue our search on Taobao but the initial search turned up nothing. I can’t believe that a battery that is manufactured in China isn’t for sale on their version of eBay. Certainly someone will have one, our search continues for another story.

The answer to every question for the most part today is Mei You. Not have. Over and over, not have, not have, not have; at least I understand that part of the conversation between the driver and the shop keepers. Mei You.

We go to at least 8 stores, no one has a cable ferrule in most cases the shop keeper has never seen anything like at all; sure I can get one that is for a 1/4 inch cable and a 1 inch cable but nothing that you would use on a picture frame. I can’t even get another rolled pin that has a bigger hole in it than what I have. We are now pushing close to 5:45pm and there is one last store, a reference from one that sends us back to the middle of town. It is a little shop that is next to one of our little alleyways where we shop for furniture. We show the proprietor what we are looking for and of course no ferrule but he has an idea.

He walks back into his store and reaches into a bag of pop-rivets, now I am thinking that is an awesome IDEA, why didn’t I think of that. He grabs the pliers and slides the rivet off the mandrel ( the nail looking thing that is in the middle of the rivet – yes I had to look up what it was real called). That is certainly malleable enough to be squished and crimped on the cable and will hold it while hanging the picture frame. I am totally impressed.

Really simple solution to the problem. Why didn't I think of that?

Really simple solution to the problem. Why didn’t I think of that?

This is the first time I have seen someone from China think outside the box, this guy actually realized what the problem was and created a solution with the materials on hand; he just Jerry-Rigged a solution to the problem. I told him he was the smartest guy I had met all day and might actually be the smartest guy in Haiyang. I know where I am going now to get my metal parts and pieces from now on.

So the day was a success for about 50% of what we needed. A pretty outstanding experience as far as how things typically go in China. I found what I needed for the two major projects AND I located a vendor or shop where I can go back and get stuff I need in the future. I like going to a place that will be able to help we with my Jerry-rigged solutions.

He wins first prize for solving a problem I couldn't do on my own.

He wins first prize for solving a problem I couldn’t do on my own.

Now I know this whole affair would have taken less than 15 minutes at any hardware store in America, but that isn’t how things work here in China. Nothing is that easy. Remember that the next time you head to the hardware store to get a couple of little items, there are lots of place in the rest of the world where that 15 minute trip might take the better part of an afternoon or morning. China is one of those locations. I am glad that I look at those little inconveniences as an adventure because it would certainly be frustrating otherwise.

Now, where am I going to find a 6 VDC battery?


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