Thursday, August 28, 2008

Clothes Clothes Clothes

Good afternoon everyone!

I know, I've not been keeping up with my Blogging. I'm sorry - I'll try to do better. I know you are just itching to get your hands on this very important information. So I'm going to try and update today and then again tomorrow and maybe again on Saturday. So much is going on. . .

Clothes is the hot topic this week!

See the photo of my washer/dryer. Yes, it's small and it is one contiguous piece of machinery - Tim the Tooltime Taylor has nothing on me, my friends. . .

Yes, before I got here, it took Mike 8 hours to do a load of laundry. Since I've been here, we have condensed that to about 2.5 hours. Thirty minutes to wash in cold water with Tide liquid and Downey April Fresh - although I really miss my Downey calla lilly, you cannot get it here. So I have to make do. Then once the wash cycle is finished you need to dry it in "less" heat for about 2 hours. I never let it go the entire time because then you get a wrinkled mess and have to iron the wrinkles out and of course with all the permanent press clothes we have, like dockers and polo shirts, it takes longer to iron than it does to wash them all over again. So now I can pretty much do two loads in an afternoon, if I'm staying home which doesn't happen that much anymore because I'm very very busy. Read on. . .

Clothes is the topic this week. Last week, Denice and I went shopping. She's about 4'11" tall and very petite and you all know I'm NOT. So, we go to 3 department stores in our general vicinity which is about 3 good-sized city blocks away. You can access them all from underneath in the Xujiahui (pronounced Shu Shaw Way) Subway Station. It is ideal - then you are out of the sun and the heat isn't nearly as bad and well; there are no buses, cars, taxis, bicycles or motorcycles riding on the sidewalks. Therefore, you are not taking your life in your hands or someone elses' hands. So, it is much safer under ground.

So we go to this nice department store close-by that has a Sephora store on the first floor as well as a MAC cosmetics counter along with Estee Lauder, Clinique, L'Occitane too. We ride the escalator to the 3rd floor to look around. I completely decide right then and there that I'm not going to even think about purchasing any clothes here because I'm not a size 0 or a 2 or even a Size 4 - Ha Ha - so I'm just checking out the fashions which are amazing - some funky, some odd, some elegant, and then there are some that I wouldn't give away. Enough said.

So we wander around and Denice sees this very nice silky black and white and gold (yes, it's Steelers' colors but maybe not like you'd wear to Heinz Field). It's way too nice to wear to Heinz Field. The clerk takes one look at her and runs to the back of the closet and pulls out this fabric rolled up into a ball and unfurls it. It's lovely but its a Size Large. No problem - Denice doesn't seem to be fazed by that fact. She goes to try it on - it looks cute and she decides to purchase the garment. The clerks here speak NO English.

So she goes to pay the cashier for the dress (here in China, the casher has a very important job) Only the cashier can accept cash for purchases - we haven't figured out why yet. So then Denice goes back to the clerk and gives her the receipt and the clerk hands her the bag and says something in Chinese mentioning the number 4 and points up. So Denice and I figure we need to go to the 4th floor for something. So we proceed upstairs where NO ONE speaks English again and no one understands what we want. We don't know what we want.

However, on each floor is a man or woman who stands guard at the escalator and; well, we don't know what he or she does. Maybe he / she monitors theft or maybe he/she is the risk manager or maybe he/she is the boss. Who knows. So we approach a man who is standing there and Denice is convinced that he thinks she wants to return the dress. She doesn't but he takes us downstairs - back to the department where she bought the dress and accosts the clerk.

Now, the clerk has no idea how she will explain to us what is right OR what is wrong. So, I pull how my handy-dandy China Mobile cell phone and call the Westinghouse Office and ask Maisie - the fabulous administrative assistant - to help us out. I hand the phone to the sales clerk who promptly talks to Maisie in raised tones. I look at Denice and she looks at me and the voices are raised and lowered and pretty soon people are staring and Denice is convinced we have created an international disturbance.

This happened when the Olympics were going on and we didn't want to call attention to ourselves so we waited until the sales clerk calmed down and handed me the phone. I meekly said hello to Maisie again and she laughed and said, "they just want to give you a gift." Oh my goodness - that is all????? And here we were totally convinced we were in BIG BIG trouble. So the sales clerk takes us upstairs to the 4th floor to a table set up for this specific promotion. Denice presents her receipt and they ask her to choose a card. The clerk scratches off the scratch-off space on the card and lo and behold - Denice has won - Ta Da - a bottle of SHAMPOO! We howled! Everyone looked at us and laughed and we walked away. Another day - another shopping experience with Denice and Annie.

So, then I get home and I'm thinking - where can I get some Liz Claiborne clothes here? All I want is Liz Claiborne pants and tops and skirts. I'm not asking for the moon - I'm sure they are made here - if they would just open a Liz Clairborn Outlet here in Shanghai, the thousands upon thousands of Western women who live her could buy great clothes at decent prices because they would be sold BEFORE they are shipped to The States and before the Tax Man gets a hold of them. So, I go to and send them an email. Darn it - I get an email back the following email - - -

"Thank you for contacting Customer Support at

Our website does not currently ship to destinations outside the United
States. In addition, we do not accept payment with an international
credit card or a credit card with a billing address outside the United
States. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause but our
current systems dictate these limitations.

Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you, and
thank you again for contacting Customer Support at"

So, I wrote them back another email and they have NOT responded. I'm hoping they are trying to figure out how I can provide their marketing department with expert advice. At least, I'm hoping I'll get a discount out of the deal.
Then last Thursday I went to the Fabric Market to pick up my charcoal gray pantsuit. Alas, it turns out that the tailor thought I wanted a dove gray pantsuit and it was only half finished. Oh well, that's fine - I'm going to keep it because the cashmere feels great and it looks lovely. So I ordered some sleeveless shells at my favorite blouse tailor at the other end of the floor and I picked them all up today.
Perfection! I'm very pleased.

So sometimes things do work out and all is not for naught. . .

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