Other Jobs I’ve heard about in China, and Imagine myself Pursuing:
1) I’m dressed in a slick black suit that was hand made to fit me by a child with nimble hands. I feel overly proud for once in my life, to be white. My only task today is to be present, because, after all I’m a business escort. Not the kind that performs unspeakable things for cash, but the kind that accompanies Chinese businessmen to meetings in order to gain credibility. I’m the symbol for western modernity, a white face, and for this I charge 1200 yuan / hour. Riding around in the black Audis is nice, except for all the smoking. This I’ve had to adopt because it’s customary for cigarettes to be exchanged during a business deal. While I thought this career move would eventually lead to a deeper understanding of high stakes business I’ve absorbed nothing because most negotiations occur in Chinese. During these talks I drink bitter green tea and burn my mouth.
2) Before me are eager adult faces ready to learn like children. I teach English as a second language and make four times as much as a junior architect. I cannot speak Chinese and feel sheepish that my students are gossiping about me under my nose. I embrace myself for the call that will get there attention “Hi yo Ho Hello!” This is gibberish and means nothing but it sounds like a mix between English and Chinese and quiets them down nonetheless. I zero in a younger student giggling and feel uncomfortably warm like I’m turning red.
3) I borrowed $40,000 to buy a BMW in the States and sent it to China. I can do this once with the right kind of visa. Back in China I sell it to a nouveaux riche Chinese guy who is willing to pay $60,000 because BMW’s are in short supply, and he can’t easily go to the States like I can. This job is easy, and has earned me two years of comfortable, work-free life in Beijing. Now I spend my time like a free-spirited artist unencumbered by everyday affairs. I make strange things out of fabric and take photographs as though I am a visitor from another planet. This mushy life has both softened my palms and my speech. I can also touch my toes once again.