The story of this blog over the last year was as much the story of my experiences as it was the story of me trying to find a way to write about them. A style, an angle, a voice, if you will. Despite the bevy of amusing anecdotes, I don’t think I ever got to a voice in Haikou. So, now that I’m in Beijing, here’s some other people’s voices!
Most of yesterday was taken up by a product training on two new car models. The audience consisted of our team leaders (six people), the professional driving crew for the event (about ten people), and the hostess girls (maybe fifteen of them). (I really need to write an entry on the blatant and, even here, palpably awkward sexism of the “hostess girl” or “courtesy girl” institution. Another time). The presentation wasn’t terribly relevant to our organizing team, old news for the driving team, and as for the courtesy girls… well, they were a team of overdressed and over-mascara’d women in their early twenties, whose job it is to don short skirts and smile, being asked to pay attention to six (six!) hours of car talk. In their defense, that’s a long time to be talked to about the same car, even for men who don’t wear mascara.
I kid. Fortunately, the presenter was very good at his job, and often got everyone in the room laughing (at the same time, which was a feat, considering the varied audience). Sometimes he said things that were found hilarious, but apparently only by me. A couple examples:
“Not all (stereo) speakers are the same. There are three kinds: high ones, middle ones, and low ones. High ones are for violins. Middle ones? Horns. And the low ones? Drums.”
I imagined people driving around in state-of-the-art sports cars listening exclusively to music arranged for a trio of violin, trombone, and bass drum. I almost laughed, but I’m glad I didn’t because the next sentence was almost as good, and notable in that nobody batted an eye:
“Now, the speakers that rich people listen to are very different from the ones us normal people have…”
I considered slamming my fist on the table, jumping up, and accusing him with one finger while crying, “NO ONE SPEAKS ILL OF THE SPEAKERS OF OUR NOBLE HOUSE!!!”, then storming to the door, turning around, and spouting, “Mark my words, you will live to regret disparaging the great woofers of Zhou!”* before swishing my cape and strutting down the stairs while muttering something about “uppity plebs.” But I didn’t do that, either. Come to think of it, there are a lot of things I don’t do.
Almost time to run off to work. One last quote from the presenter guy:
“When we Chinese go traveling, we don’t go traveling. What do we do?” Everybody already knew. “That’s right, we go shopping. We can stay in the cheapest hotel, hotels foreigners wouldn’t even consider, but when we come back, we’re bringing all the most expensive stuff.”
It’s the use of pronouns that gets to me, mostly. Happy Tuesday!
*I think I’m going to use my Chinese name when talking about myself here. Makes it less traceable, in case I accidentally breach some sort of internet/real world boundary etiquette.