Dumpling Sister's Thoughts
2.20.2007 Shanghai (Chinese Version)
I once again
rode the subway train in Shanghai knowing that this would be
the last time riding it in a long while. Six in the morning
the streets of Shanghai were wet with the overnight rain.
Its sleepy look somehow invites lingering of the mind.
Looking out of the window, the streets lights were still
lighting up every corner of Shanghai. Yes, leaving this
place was very lonely like, which I like.
I carried the two heavy suitcases with me going up and down the stairs. I was full of the departing sentiment that I didn’t have much complaints about the heavy weights of the suitcases.
The waiting line was short, there was no bickering like there was the night before between the mother and the daughter, there was only a person sleeping on the seat.
I switched the train to take the MagLev train and had my very first experience of traveling at the speed of 430 km/minute. I turned around and saw a Japanese mother and her daughter, but the wasn’t a chance for conversation.
I continued my way to the airport, pushing my suitcases in the crowd.
I felt the soreness of my shoulders; my back was stiff like an iron board, which a turn may cause additional aching.
Last night I had again gotten a massage treatment. This would be the sixth during my two weeks stay in Shanghai. I had mentioned this to my friend that I was getting massage treatments but she doubted its effectiveness. I too knew that its effect wouldn’t be noticeable since my stay would be short. However, I kept visiting the massage place, why was that?
Suddenly I had a thought, perhaps I should do what people would do and put a “to be continued” for this piece to gain your interest.
There were four people working at the massage place. Some were from Yang-zhou and some where from An-Hui. Their logo was that their technique was from Yang-zhou. I have not heard that Yang-zhou has famous massage techniques, neither was I impressed after two weeks of visits.
I remembered several of my friends had mentioned that An-Hui is a poor province. Until the fifth visit did I have a better conversation with the people there about their lives at the shop. Wang is an almost fifty year old gentleman who is from Yang-zhou. He said his mother is still alive and he is got three older sisters. His wife is taking care of his son who is currently attending college. He will have more than ten days of vacation after the Chinese New Year’s since they are on rotation. Some people already took off for the New Years. This is the only chance he has to go home and visit. Normally they work until two in the morning and start working between nine to ten in the morning. They work everyday seven days a week.
“There is no time for resting. We have to work every day of the week,” said Wong.
“Damn, so you guys basically work until you have to sleep, and sleep until you have to work,” I said.
Wong, with a barely detectable discerning look, but still agreed and said, “ That is right”
At night time, they sleep on the massage table, if the table was too tilted then they would put together with chair to flat themselves out. I thought after a day’s hard work, there is really no chance for any strength left for complaining if the bed was tilted or not. In addition, there is no chance for improvement on the condition of the beds. This way could they save on the rent and the meals are being provided by their boss. I remembered Wong would always smile politely and look out the window.
Right, that strikes a similarities with caged chickens.
That maybe how he overcomes the working condition, by always smiling, because his signing is not be heard by others.
Last night Wong was pretty happy that they all had good business. Each of them had worked on over ten customers and brought in over three hundreds of RMB, or Chinese currency. But they still have to split with their boss four to six. So each of them would get to keep about over one hundred RMB when the day was over. One of them was even sick but still had to work. Wong said that including my charge he estimated his total passed the four hundred limit and broke his personal record. I was thinking, perhaps I should raise the prize and made it to five hundred for him; it wouldn’t hurt to set up a higher record anyways.
Wong turned over to tease the one who was sick saying that person seemed weak.
“So what do you do with you are sick?” I asked a very naïve question since they have no home at the place and the massage tables would be in use.
“Just lie down for a while, maybe for a day. Flu usually takes about a day to get over anyways.” He replied. So does that mean the flu I caught was much potent since it has traveled overseas.
When I left, I couldn’t make it to five hundred for him but it wasn’t far. I smiled and left but I doubt if they would remember me. It was a coincidental encounter; they were working hard and they met me.
These are probably the most hard working individuals that I have met personally. I admire their working spirit and that was why I liked chatting with them. The cost wasn’t high yet I could observe them and see how they live their lives.
Some people put their kids with the relatives to care after. I hope the children are not being abused and could understand why their parents are away. I hope that Wong’s son could one day help out the family and so his father doesn’t have to work as hard.
When Wong mentioned that he could go home and watch TV all day long, he had this grin on him instantly. All I could think of was no more of the tilted bed to sleep on.
When the time is changing and the culture is clashing, with instability in politics and cycling in economics, one could always see these hard working individuals at the most unnoticeable places. And that is a relief.