Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The sign was easy to understand. It referred to the sound of someone patting and tapping the watermelon before choosing it.
The supermarket thought it would destroy the fruit, so they put up a sign forbidding people from doing so.
Originally, this kind of thing was nothing objectionable. The watermelons belonged to the supermarket, and they had the right to set the rules in their business.
However, the supermarket put the sign in Chinese characters, which caused some Chinese people to complain. This was obvious racial discrimination and also an insult to the Chinese!
Maybe the people who tapped on the watermelons before were Chinese, but who said that all the people who did so were Chinese? Writing the sign in Chinese implied that Chinese people were ignorant, primitive foreigners.
After Li Du saw the sign, he got angry as well and said, “This is too much! What could this possibly mean? Do they think Chinese are easy to bully? That insulting us would have no consequences?”
A next to him said, “Those Americans are the limit. Tapping watermelons is how any sensible person would choose them, right? Even if don’t know anything, I know how to tap a watermelon before buying it. This just makes sense.”
Another girl nearby said unhappily, “Yes, if you buy a watermelon and take it away without tapping, how do you know it’s a good one?”
Li Du nodded and said, “Although I don’t know how to evaluate a watermelon’s quality by the sound it makes, I still tap watermelons every time I buy one.”
“Well, my dad told me that tapping watermelon is a necessary part of buying it, and without that, the process would be incomplete,” the first girl said.
Li Du looked at her carefully, not sure whether she was in earnest. It sounded like a joke, but she looked quite serious.
The staff in the supermarket would not budge. The manager waved his hands and said, “We will not remove this sign, because you Chinese like to tap watermelons, and then you do not buy them, so how can we sell them to other customers?”
Another added, “Yes, you Chinese always do all kinds of stupid things in the name of tradition. We won’t cater to you!”
This made Li Du angry. He went up and said, “Sir, if you go to buy a car and notice that the engine was faulty, would you buy it? If you went to buy a cake and found it underbaked, would you buy it? If you needed some painkillers and it turned out that they cause brain damage, would you still take it?”
Then he quickly recanted, “Oh, but you probably did, because it sounds like you do have brain damage.”
That staff member was very angry, and said, “Are you mocking me?”
Li Du said contemptuously, “Why would you think so? I’m telling you the truth, you’re stupid.”
The supermarket worker tried to throw a punch at him, but the manager tried to stop him and said to Li Du, “Sir, you’d better apologize, or we’ll have to call the police.”
Li Du sneered. “Who should apologize? You should. I’ve just made an analogy. Why don’t you allow customers to check the produce before buying? Do customers have to buy a cat in the bag?”
The manager said, “Of course the customer has the right to choose the goods, but your tapping on the watermelon is just ridiculous. I have found that…”
Li Du interrupted him and said, “You must have asked the wrong person. What if I prove that tapping on a watermelon to hear the sound can tell you if it’s good or not?”
The manager thought for a while and said cautiously, “Our watermelons are all ripe, so that would be hard to prove.”
Li Du smiled and said, “Tapping on the watermelon doesn’t just tell you how ripe it is, it also enables you to judge whether it is good or bad. If I can do that, what will you do?”
The manager said, “I’ll take the sign down.”
Li Du hummed and said, “How about this? If I can’t fulfill my promise, I’ll buy all the watermelons in your supermarket. If I do, your supermarket will apologize to us!”
The manager said, “Do you know how many watermelons we have in stock?”
Li Du snapped his fingers, and Sophie knew what he wanted. She pulled out the JP Morgan card from her purse. “It can buy all the watermelons in the United States.”
Cleveland was a small place, and the manager was ignorant and did not know the worth of the JP Morgan card. He said disdainfully, “Keep on lying.”
Someone told him, “This is a top bank card issued by JP Morgan. Every owner is a billionaire. They are not lying.”
Hearing this, the manager was taken aback and eyed Li Du carefully.
Li Du said impatiently, “Do you agree? How about this, if I lose, I’ll buy all the watermelons in your supermarket at ten times the market price, and if you lose you give me ten times the value of all the watermelons. So?”
The staff around the manager encouraged him to agree to the bet. They said:
“You don’t really believe they can evaluate watermelons by tapping on them, do you?”
“Don’t be a coward, be firm with them.”
“This sign is too insulting, so apologize directly!”
Li Du said, “Look, there is somebody else asking you to apologize directly.”
The manager was even more reluctant to do so, and simply said, “Then let’s bet, and if you win I’ll apologize…”
“No, it’s not your private apology we want,” Li Du said, waving his fingers and smiling again. “It’s your supermarket that is going to apologize to us.”
Sophie, who knew Li Du well, saw his trademark smile and quickly reminded the manager, “You had better apologize directly, or the consequences may be worse.”
The manager, however, did not appreciate Sophie’s good intentions. He thought she was trying to goad him and said, “Let’s bet, and if you win, the supermarket will apologize, but… I set the rules,” he added with a cunning smile.
“Whatever you want,” Li Du said calmly.
The manager took a deep breath and said, “I’ll pick out five watermelons. You rank them according to their ripeness.”
“How is that possible?” cried a Chinese girl. “Five watermelons may not be different in ripeness. Besides, there is no standard!”
The manager gave an evil smile. “Don’t you Chinese think you have special skills in evaluating watermelons? How come there are no standards? You can tell by the color!”
Li Du said, “Your conditions are not fair, because the sample is too small, so let me pick five watermelons from here and rank them by their ripeness, ok?”
The manager looked at the watermelon heap with some hesitation. He saw Li Du looked confident so he was afraid of losing the bet.
However, the customers, who were watching the spectacle, were not pleased and began to put pressure on him:
“This condition is very reasonable, why not agree to it?”
“Yes, come on, it can’t be done anyway.”
“All the watermelons here have about the same degree of ripeness.”