Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ok, make your jokes...

Last night I had dinner with a guy for some business my father is interested in. I enjoy having dinner with this guy; his English is quite good, but it is just off enough that I always leave with a funny anecdote.

He is a very touchy/feely man. I think this is because he thinks that Westerns are, and he is trying to act more Western. But he tries to hard. Any time a handskake would be appropriate, he give you a hug. When you are walking, he always wants to hold hands (actually, that is a Chinese thing), but even to the point where he tries to get your hand out of your pocket.

After dinner we were walking to the bus stop and he had his arm around me (yes, make your jokes... again, this is very Chinese) and he said to me,

"Mr. Nick, you are my lover."

"Umm.... no, I am not your lover."

"But, why? (with puzzled look on his face)"

"Your wife is your lover, not I."

"I not understand. No, you are my lover!"

"No, your wife is your lover because you sleep in the same bed as her."

"Oooooh.... I understand. Haha, no, you are not my lover. Sorry. Mistake."

"Glad we got that staight."

"You are my like-er!"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Last night I had dinner with an employee of mine who informed me that he would be resigning within the next two weeks. It made me sad, but I understood his reasons.

Or rather I should say reason (singular).

The reason my employee gave me was that the Chinese owner treats his employees worse than animals, and I gotta tell you, from what I have witnessed over the last nine months, that about sums it up.

The hours are grueling, the rules are absurd, the living conditions are questionable, and the pay is a mere pittance, even by Chinese standards. During meetings people are purposely targeted for humiliation in front of their peers (keeping in mind that "face" is of major importance in China). Staff are routinely cursed out by the manager, using the most foul and insulting phrases in all of Mandarin. Needless to say, I understand why the poor guy wanted to leave. We had a nice dinner together and I told him I would ask the foreigners I know about helping him find another job.

Today at the end of lunch when my friend went to hand in his lunch tray, the new chef confronted him as to why he hadn't eaten all of his food.

My friend's responsed, "Because it is badly burnt and I don't like it very much."

At this, the chef launched himself at my staff member, and gave him one hell of a beating. He him him so hard in the wrist that it shattered the crystal of his watch. Finally under a rain of blows, my friend threw one punch in self-defense and leveled the guy.

Why my friend called the Chinese president to tell him what happened, the Chinese owner loudly suggested that he go and have inappropriate relations with his mother and then hung up on him!!

When my friend later told the president he would be resigning, the president cursed him out more, refused to pay him his last two months of salary, and told him he would be charged a fee for all of the training he has received from the company and that if he didn't pay, he would have him arrested!!

And it is a mystery why all of your employees keep quitting and we can't get anyone to replace them?

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'm Frosty the Snowman, over here

Ok, I can understand the factory only having hot water for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night. When I'm sitting in my office, I don't have any pressing need to go downstairs and take a steaming hot shower. I suppose it makes sense that some money is being saved by not burning that coal. Yes, all of our heat (and electricity for that matter) is generated by coal.

What doesn't make a lick of sense is why the office heating is only turned on for those two hours in the morning!!

It gets slightly warm in here by about 10am, only to be tongue-stuck-to-the-metal-pole-freezing by lunchtime. I am sitting at my desk in a sweater, a coat, and mittens, clutching a glass full of hot water trying to get enough heat back in my fingers to type.

Yes, it saves money not to burn coal all day, but for the love of everything dear, what about the cost you accrue when your office productivity drops because everyone has hypothermia?!

And to add insult to injury, the Chinese president has a massive electric heater in his office keeping it toasty, which probably costs more to run that heating the whole office would with the radiators!!