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I have a strange quandary going on.  It's a small thing, but so strange, and I'm not sure how to proceed.

Any opinions would be welcome.

I write about my daughter a lot.  She has autism, and she's a funny kid.  One of her funny habits is finding obscure foreign cartoons on the internet.  Once she develops a good frothy obsession with the characters, she goes trolling for toys.  Because she's a Google genius, she inevitably finds them.  

Her latest favorite is called Dibo the Gift Dragon.  He's Korean, and has a whole slew of friends from Cozyland.  I believe they translate Dibo into English for the Australian market.  Sometimes Ellie watches it in Korean, sometimes English.  It all seems the same to her, as far as I can tell.

Ellie doesn't often request specific things, but she has been asking for months for Dibo the Gift Dragon toys.  I discovered that they only sell these toys in Asia.  I also discovered that there was some kind of manufacturing glitch, and they were hard to find even in Asia.  They go on Ebay for something like $60, plus shipping.


Finally, knowing that Christmas is coming up fast, and knowing that shipping will take a good long time, I take the initiative to find Dibo toys at a reasonable price.  They are sold by a company in Malaysia.   The toys are reasonable, the shipping is US $175.  Ouch.

Determined as only the mother of an autistic child can be, I write to this company, asking if some alternative can be reached, as I don't need the toys quickly.

I receive a quick, nice, polite reply from a gentleman named Edwin.  He says he's going to help me find a good alternative.  I'm a little nervous ordering from overseas like this, but I've done it before (Pororo, the little Korean Penguin...) and it turned out fine.

Coincidentally, my sig line on my email is a link to Ellie's website.  It's been there for a long time and I forget it's there most of the time.

Turns out Edwin is a very kind and curious type, and when he writes me back he says that he's visited Ellie's website and he is sorry that she has autism and wishes to make a gift to her.  He says that he'd like to personally buy her one of the toys I've ordered, and says that even though it might not seem like much, he doesn't make a lot of money and it's expensive to live in Malaysia.  

I don't think he is trying to elicit sympathy, I think he was trying to show that he's a generous man.  This is already clear from his kind offer.

Now, in America, I would say, "You're very kind, but I wouldn't hear of it, please, it's enough of a gift that you visited her website and got us a good deal on shipping," but having lived in Third World countries before, I realize that this could be interpreted as being very rude, and I don't want to insult Edwin.  Nor do I want him to spend his hard earned money on my daughter, who is well cared for.

My only thought is to reply with a gift in kind, which is the usual procedure in gift giving cultures.  How am I supposed to do that?  I wrote him a note saying how generous and kind he is, and that I would like to respond with a gift.  I asked if he gets any commission, then I could just buy more stuff and perhaps we could consider that a gift, but a) I don't think he gets a commission on internet sales and b) it seems like a pretty lame gift.

Any suggestions?  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 11:13:32 AM PDT

  •  Perhaps see if there is something uniquely (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, Louisiana 1976

    American that he can't find in Malaysia ?

                   Just a thought,

    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

    by Chacounne on Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 11:28:52 AM PDT

  •  It seems to me that the appropriate reciprocal (4+ / 0-)

    gift, is some of Ellie's artwork.   I'm sure he would treasure it.  And perhaps if he displays it in his workplace, it gives him the opportunity to speak (modestly of course) of his own generousity.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 11:48:59 AM PDT

  •  Perhaps donate to a specific Malyasian Charity? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero the name of ____

    The risk here is donating to a charity he may find disagreeable.

    I would potentially look to something regarding hunger and poverty, or another neutral non religious/denominational grouping that is recognized.

    You could even set up a paypal donation point to try to get extra funds and donate the entire amount in his name if you're able to get donors other than yourself.

    In this way, you can not only show him how his kindness inspired you, but that it inspired others to give as well...

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 11:51:13 AM PDT

  •  Send to his attention at the company (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, coquiero, Tom Stokland

    I understand American Jeans are a treasured commodity in Asia.

  •  Gift giving - a cultural minefield (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, lgmcp

    My experience is based on living in Japan, but I've traveled around Asia a bit, and Asians will often say their gift is small and not worth so much, which you as the receiver are to disagree with and praise it's utter perfection.  

    Once a gift is proffered, it is considered rude not to accept.  From their perspective, it means you don't value them enough to accept their gift.  It's a loss of face.

    Taking Edwin at his word (because really, he didn't have to do anything, but he's extending himself for you and your daughter) I would recommend that you accept his offer, thank him profusely, and inquire if there is anything from the USA that you can offer in return.  He'll say no.  Insist.  Uniquely American goods are always popular, or you could also make a commensurate donation to the Malaysian Red Crescent.

    One last thing - look up the company website and see if you can find the CEO or General Manager, and write them a letter (not email, a letter) about how kind and helpful Edwin has been in helping you and making your daughter happy.  It's up to you whether you want to go into the details of Edwin's offer, but customer service is very important in Asia, and sadly, most Americans don't make a point of recognizing and rewarding this.  In the long run, your letter may do more for Edwin than a gift.

    Don't be humble. You're not that great. - Golda Meir

    by MKDanaher on Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 02:40:57 PM PDT

    •  An excellent point. (0+ / 0-)

      Praise to superiors is a fine acknowledgement.  Or any other semi-public venue that seems to fit.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 08:44:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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