Now in our second year of saying nice things about China

You Weren’t Shanghaied

October 31st, 2006 by DD

Drop the tranny. The Oak Ridge Boys. Fix the plumbing. Southern Drawl….Chiner.

What?! How did you end up in China? No, really, I want to know. You were that kid I knew in grammar school who rode horses and never changed your clothes. While everyone else was digging Thriller, you were digging the Charlie Daniel’s Band - the FM radio version. You hit garage sales with your paper route money to buy some broken down electrical object, like a projector, to fix it. Let’s face it, the only “Chiner” you ever knew was at the bottom of that hole you kept digging all through the 5th grade.

So exactly what was it that brought you here? More importantly, why aren’t you gone yet?

You don’t teach English - you bounce at the local disco. You make plans set up a company exporting something’er’other. Or open a bar. You can never even write the business plan but keep bugging all of us to “invest”. You want to get a job in construction, but all those Chinese “screw you out of a decent salary”.

You have some local 欢迎光临 girl living with you. She can’t speak English, you can’t speak Chinese. No, the language of love isn’t really in play here. She asks you for money. You give it to her. Then you give her more. Now you don’t have any money.

Why are you still here?

How to become a pop star in China

October 30th, 2006 by Dan

If you’re anything like me then you wake up each and every morning and wonder “Will today be my day? Is this the day that I get noticed and live out my dreams as a superstar?” Well, friends, wonder no more. Follow my E-Z steps below and you’ll be in pop star heaven in no time.

  1. Don’t have any talent – People want to believe that their lives are wonderful. If the person they are watching on television is only slightly more talented (or better yet, less talented) than they are then they can validate their existence.
  2. Make sure you are painfully normal looking – refer to #1. Instead of being good looking, you should wear something ridiculous to help you stand out. Why look great when you can look like a fool?
  3. If you’re a girl, try to look and dress as much as a boy – Why this happens is beyond me
  4. Perform in front of others as if your best friends are hiding behind the stage laughing at you and you are more embarrassed than you’ve ever been in your entire life
  5. Perform in front of others as if you have some place better to be – Your performance should be uninspiring and forgettable. You should sing and dance as if you know deep down that you’re awful but you cling to your mother’s words telling you that you are the best and most beautiful.
  6. Maintain a blank and emotionless stare when you win a completion
  7. Smile like you’re having the best time when you lose a competition
  8. When you finally break down and start crying when you lose, there is nothing too shameful and pathetic that you can say. If you ever wanted a moment in your life to regret then this is it. Let loose.
  9. Dance like you are the shit. Dance like you’ve never danced before! Dance like the dancingest gods on the dancingest day of the dancingest year have given you the sexiest most awesome dance powers that you have spent years practicing and honing in front of the bathroom mirror.
  10. Kiss the judges asses shamefully. The whole world is watching you. This is no time for a spine.

That’s it! Now we can all be famous and popular. See you all on CCTV!

你不给我面子!

October 26th, 2006 by Dan

You ruined my evening! Yes, you showed up unexpectedly but you certainly could have been a little less selfish. I only asked you to take a picture with me, and my mother, and my father, and my father and me, and my mother and me, and my mother and father and me, and my uncle and my father and my father and my mother and my uncle. It only took 35 minutes of your time! And when I offered you that 15th cigarette you declined!? I spent 45kuai on the dog soup. You should have eaten at least 4 bowlfuls but you stopped at 3. Did you see how embarrassed I was? I tried to do everything to make you happy! I even paid for everyone to go sing karaoke for 17 hours. You can’t even being to understand my embarrassment when, after hour 4, I went to the bathroom after my brilliant rendition of old revolutionary songs and I saw you relaxing in the lobby. Oh, sure, you tried to get out of it by saying you were just “taking a break” but you were trying to ruin me!!! I cancelled everything right away and kicked everyone out to avoid any more shame. You only wanted to take advantage of me and your kindness was a lie! You manipulative and dishonest bastard!

I did all of this for you. FOR YOU!!!!

The 80-20 Rule

October 24th, 2006 by Dan

No one ever finishes anything to a level of 100% completeness. We all work on a project and, at some point, we say to ourselves: This is pretty good. It’s not perfect but I’m damn pleased with what’s been done so far. At the end of the day, no one cares about the level of completeness so long as it will get the job done. Your manager looks at you and says “Can we go with this?” and you reply “Yes.” That’s all anyone really cares about.

In China, I find that there is an extreme danger in simply accepting your average colleague’s determination as to what is “complete.” In my experience, the Chinese thinking goes like this: No one ever does as much as is humanly possible therefore I will do only as much as is necessary. However, if I do as much as is necessary then I’m really doing too much work because “close to” as much as is necessary is still pretty good. So, I’m only going to do 80% of the bare minimum. That should be enough.

Now, I’m not one to complain but, holymotherfuckingshit! You’re hired to do a job - it may not be a good job and someone may do it better but do the fucking work!

The thought process of your Chinese colleague and yourself is compared below:

Percentage of Project Completion Chinese Thought Process Percentage of Project Completion
(Laowai Equivalent)
Laowai Thought Process
80% There’s no way that I’m doing any more than this because this will be good enough. 60% Doing only this will get me fired
100% Not necessary 80% I gotta get this done before 5pm
120% Theoretically possible if someone else does it but not me. 100% Cool

As you can see, your average Chinese worker likes to begin work with an immediate 20% cut of the top. It’s like he’s bargaining with you. It’s like when you said “this is what I want,” he said “Well, he’s only saying that so I work harder when what he really wants is less.” This isn’t a negotiation. This is exactly what we need to get done – no more, no less. Just do the fucking work. As a result, I’ve come to accept that anything handed to me is going to have to go back for another round of revisions. ALWAYS. Something gets put in my hands and I need to have a conversation like this:

Me: What about parts 4 and 5? Didn’t we say that we were going to do those two?
Guy: I think it’s better this way.
Me: Right. Well , we need to get those parts in before we send this out.
Guy: I need to work on a different project now. I can do 4 but not 5.
Me: (Imaginary foot gets shoved up this guy’s ass)

Don’t get me wrong. Laowai aren’t necessarily better. As a whole, laowai are a lazy and useless bunch but they hand in something complete. It may be shitty and a waste of time but at least it’s all there.

I sum it up this way: Buy a used car from a laowai and it will break down as soon as you get off the lot. Buy a used car from a Chinese and, although it looks great, he’ll neglect to mention that it has no engine and you won’t even get off the lot.

对面的女孩看过来

October 19th, 2006 by DD

Once in a blue moon you have a conversation with someone that confirms your every suspicion. You have tried to think differently because you were embarassed with your critical eye, but you keep coming back to that initial “gut feeling”.

A little while ago my family had a couple of friends over to dinner. The husband was from Hong Kong. No, not the decendent of some Chaozhou or Shanghai vintage import, but the real deal. A real life Honkey from one of the outlaying islands.

As we got to talking, we got on the subject of Hong Kong women and how skinny they are. My wife chimed in that I think that Hong Kong women are the ugliest ducklings on the planet. Now the DD in me wouldn’t have cared that much that she said that, but you may know that I’m not DD - that’s just my Twain. The real guy was strickingly embarrased and taken aback. How could she say that?

Well, I guess it doesn’t matter - HE AGREED! He set forth to build on a theory of why Hong Kong people are so mean to each other - because they are all ugly.
He said that when he goes to China, especially the north, he looks across the way to see a pretty girl and give her a wink. He feels happy and rejuvenated. Life is good again! He went on to say that in Hong Kong he doesn’t even want to look up because he already knows they’ll be ugly. So he has no problem pushing his way through crowds of ugly people without saying excuse me or sorry. Now this is an educated man in a room with people he doesn’t know very well, talking about his own city’s people being ugly. We all agreed, but that’s beside the point.

Social graces, as they are taught elsewhere - don’t stare, don’t point, don’t embarass yourself in public - don’t seem to matter much over here. I’m sure there is a different kind of “polite” that kids are taught, but what is it? Without getting into some “introverted Pacific Rim societies use a collectivist agreement framework”, what could it be?