He asked, "Do you know if this is useful?"
I looked down at the book. I smiled. "I don't know this one specifically, but Lonely Planet is a reliable name."
He seemed satisfied and paid his twelve or thirteen dollars for the book.
As I was slipping the receipt inside it he said, "Could you take a flip through and make sure it's okay?"
Sure, I thought. Pages were sometimes missing. At the time, I had found a handful of books with pages printed upside down. I flipped through it. It looked okay to me. I put it on the counter between us.
"But is the Chinese okay?"
I blinked. The frustrated ball was beginning to form in the pit of my stomach. I had a suspicion, I had a feeling. I maintained my smile and struggled to hope.
"I'm not sure. I don't speak Chinese, sir."
He took the book and scoffed -- snorted, really, I kid you not. He tucked the book inside his jacket pocket and turned to leave.
"Not a very good Chinese person, then, are you?"