October 1st is National Day in China. What does that mean? I don’t know. In 1949 the Communist Party declared that there would be a National Day every October 1st. There is a one-week holiday that goes with that (called Golden Week). Kids don’t go to school and some people don’t work. Because this is China and there is nothing more important than money here, many do work. Sometimes I feel like Alice after she fell down the rabbit hole.
Business. Why, oh why, did I allow myself to get into this? The bulk of our customers will be primary school children which I hate teaching. They are cute (most of them), but you can’t have a conversation with them. We now have 4 students with a couple more probably on their way. Since it is a holiday this week, no one wants to commit to next week. God forbid you should do something in advance here. If you do something 5 minutes in advance here, then you’re in a hurry. Rabbit Hole!
I did my three free classes at the middle school and they were all a big success. However, the lying scumbag of a principal doesn’t want to spend any money for me to come in and do this once a week. I won’t do it for free. The teacher’s think it’s great and the principal thinks it’s great, but he thinks it’s not all about money. I guess he works for free. What a lying ass. He led us to believe that if the “test” classes were a success we were “in like Flint”. Liar. He never had any intention of hiring me. And to top all that off, we didn’t get any customers out of that.
We went into another Middle School and had a chat with the Principal. At least this guy was honest. “I have no money for this” he told us. I can respect that. But he wants it so his idea was for me to come in twice a week for the Grade 7 classes (a total of about 500 students) and do 2 lectures. There would be to 250 students at a time. He doesn’t want to offer something to some students and not to others (I understand that) but there are so many that don’t care. After careful consideration I turned that down. I know he said he had no money but I think he was going to pay from his own pocket. Now he wants to do this after regular school hours so those not interested will go home and we will have manageable numbers to work with. I don’t want to do this “after hours” because it interferes with us if we get business. Shujie thinks we should since this principal is a well-respected man in town and it will help us to get customers. What do I know? I’m a stranger here on this planet China. I’ll do it.
There is something here they call “student apartments”. Where I come from they call it “day care”. These are places that take the primary kids for lunch and feed them and let them hang out after school until their parents come and get them. Shujie and one of these places made an arrangement where I would hold classes there. It’s in another area of town (a rich area) so I was game. We were under the impression that they would try and get us customers so we had new posters made up and new flyers. We couldn’t trust them. They didn’t want to do anything except collect money. We should get all the students and they’ll give us the classrooms. We ended up breaking up over that. Shujie is pleased. She’s changing the phone number on all the flyers (there are 2 phone numbers, one for Shujie and one for this place). She’s changing their phone number so it’s a wrong number. We met a few parents while pimping for clients and they seemed interested. They didn’t want to come to us as we are too far (a 10 minute car ride) and they didn’t want to go to a classroom in a “student apartment”. Shujie will call next week and if they can get 3 kids together I will make a house call if they want. Anything for a yuan (dollar).
We had an adult come in a couple of days ago to talk to us about taking classes. I’d love to have adults. He wants to advance in his company and to do so he needs to know English. He knows next to nothing and he would have to work like a dog to learn things. It’s harder when you get older to begin to learn a new language. I won’t lie and tell people in 3 months you’ll know this and in a year you’ll know that. I just tell them that if they work hard they will keep getting better. Shujie doesn’t think he’ll come back but if he’s serious about learning, he will come back. It’s hard to find an adult foreigner who teaches adults.
I can get primary students because we can hand out flyers to the parents and talk to them. The middle school students don’t really have their parents pick them up so they are harder to get. High school is impossible since their typical day is from 7:30AM until 10PM. We will try and get adults. Shujie wants to put an ad on a bus shelter. It’s expensive but she thinks it’s worth the money. We’re thinking about it. I hate this. I wish I were in Kurdistan.
The wedding. It came and it went. The people start arriving around 10:30 in the morning (it’s a luncheon) and we ate about 12. As soon as they stuff the food down their throats they’re out of there. When you walk in the door there is a table to the right and a table to the left. Depending whether you are there from the groom’s side or the bride’s side, you give your gift (cash) to the matching table. Then the money takers are supposed to give the gifts and a list of how much everyone gave to the wedding couple. Qi Ji’s (Shujie’s son) father took all the money before Qi Ji could get it. He paid the wedding expenses that had to be paid and kept the rest. I don’t know what happens now since they haven’t sorted it out yet. My idea if he doesn’t get the money from his lowlife of a father is he gets his father-in-law involved. After all, the father didn’t just steal from Qi Ji, he also stole from the bride. Ah, China.
I insisted to Shujie that we pay for the photographer. Shujie didn’t want to and Qi Ji didn’t want us to as we have no money and are starting a business. I said to hell with that, it’s family. Qi Ji took the money since he can’t say no to me or argue with me (he doesn’t speak English) so I felt better. He should know that his father does not represent the men of the world. If it were up to me I’d get a big stick and break his legs. What a piece of dirt he is.
I was the best-dressed person at the wedding. It’s the first time in my life I’ve been the best-dressed person anywhere. I was the only man wearing a suit and tie. Qi Ji had a suit but no tie. Shujie’s brother had a tie, but no suit. The bride’s father had blue jeans. Go figure. I love my gray Beatles looking suit (only with lapels). I felt good being the only decently dressed person there.
I will leave you with a few wedding photos. I can’t think of what else is new except there must be some kind of way out of this place. However I can’t find the joker or the thief to tell me.