No smoking in bed....China unexpected​




This afternoon, P--a marketing colleague whom I haven't worked with in a while, who lives in Sarasota, FL where he writes a humor column among other ventures--emailed me out of the blue...a strange photo of a no-smoking sign from a Chinese--or Japanese--hotel. P was taken with it, called it a "classic," as my readers might feel about it as well.

The odd thing is that I had this very sign in my Chinese hotel room where I was staying on a global research trip in Shanghai or Shenzhen, China. The sign was white and red, prominently in my hotel room, and afixed to my headrest. I noticed it because it was unusual, restrictive, and intrusive in its command not to smoke in bed. I wondered if anyone in the hotel, furniture, or guests had perished from fire while smoking in bed, so management had to make the prohibition really obvious.


These characters are supposed to be Japanese, but the exact same sign with Chinese characters with the same English translation of "please refrain from smoking in bed sign" was in my very own Chinese hotel just two weeks ago. I have just returned from this trip--10 days ago--P did not know I had gone, and I never told anyone else about the sign while staying in my hotel room.


P wondered why I didn't take it with me. First, it was affixed to the bed. Second, as I wrote back, "had I slipped everything that was strange about Shanghai or Shenzhen into my luggage, I would still be trying to get through customs or dragging an extra-heavy roller bag up one of the nonfunctioning escalators while leaving mainland China to get into Hong Kong."


This week and next, I am thinking a lot about China while writing up qualitative research findings from the global research....strange.


I am curious: Why did P suddenly send me the photo of the sign? Why am I being reminded of this memory?