Merry-Go-Round Mini-Stories (Page 2)

1. The Bottom Line 底线
Liu Lang

     For the Secretary's birthday party, his wife had made arrangements for a rather sumptuous birthday feast.
     It was a family affair, so of course none of his staff were there. Everyone who came was an acquaintance or close friend. The Secretary sat in the place of honor, looking even more dignified than usual. His wife, all smiles, greeted the guests.
     When the banquet was over and the guests had gone, the Secretary received a phone call. After a couple of uh-huhs, he told his wife, "There's a bit of a crisis at the office. I'm going to go take care of it, and I might be late getting home."
     "OK," his wife said, "but the road home isn't safe when it's late. There's an apartment at your office and you might as well stay there."
     The wife's little sister popped in after the Secretary left. "Sis, there's something I've been itching to tell you for a long time. I'm not sure I should mention it."
     The Secretary's wife smiled. "It's that your brother-in-law went to celebrate his birthday with his lover, right?"
     "Oh, Sis, so you know about it?"
     "You think I'm a fool?" the Secretary's wife replied. "I've known all about it since the year they hooked up. But I'm getting old, and I'm not a naive, hotheaded competitor. If people found out about the affair, first we'd get a divorce and then he'd lose his job, and I didn't want to see either of those things happen. What's more, being the loving couple that we are now can't shock anyone. Some hotheads don't know what's what and want out of the relationship at the first sign of trouble; but your brother-in-law feels guilty for what he's done, so he wants to make everything smooth for me. It's great!"
     Her sister groaned. "But that's a women's bottom line. It's our line in the sand!"
     The Secretary's wife laughed. "What line? I'm the wife of a high official, I live in a luxurious home, I ride in a sedan, and I'm shown deference and respect wherever I go. Being a woman, if you can't put up with men, you've still got to look out for your own interests. That's a woman's bottom line!"
                                                                                                                                                               Published in Heavenly Pool Mini-Stories

Stories by 刘浪,Posted by 浪不起来, Story #6
2. Discretion 单纯
Liu Lang

     Director Huang came staggering in half an hour late. Ms. Ho Lian rushed in a little later, very neatly dressed. Some of the people in the office laughed at her: "What are you dressed up so fancy for? Going to a buffet?"
     "What do you mean, 'fancy'?" Ms. Ho replied with a look of innocence on her face. "It's just that Director Huang came over to my place and visited for a while. If you don't believe me, ask him." Director Huang only sat there looking embarrassed.
     Another day Young Li, who was always on time for work, came in late. He explained that some people from his home town had come to visit him. The next day the whole company knew he'd lied, because Ms. Ho told everyone she happened to run into: "Yesterday was my birthday. I'd forgotten about it, but Young Li brought me a box of chocolates. It made him late for work."
     Young Li was quite upset. "Don't get any ideas about her," he said through clenched teeth. "If you do, the whole world will know about it."
     After news of these two incidents got around, no one in the company dared to try to get close to Ms. Ho.
     A year later, Ms. Ho passed the test for admission to graduate school. On her last day at work one of her coworkers, Ms. Fang, advised her strongly, "Ho Lian, I have to tell you something. You're a nice girl in every way, but you shouldn't be so indiscrete. You have to take note of the situation before you say certain things."
     Ms. Ho snickered. "If I weren't indiscrete, how could I have deterred the boss's plans to ask me out to a dinner for two? And if I weren't indiscrete, how could I have kept Director Huang from putting the moves on me? If I weren't indiscrete, how could I have continued my studies, and where would I be today?"
                                                                                                                                                                     (Published in the Guangzhou Daily)

Posted by 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, Story #7
3. Ears 耳朵
Author: Yu Tu

     There was no sound in my ears before I realized how useful ears are.
     I'm a gate guard for a leader. Been doing it for six years. More and more people have been coming in through the leader's gate. More and more going out, too.
     Usually there was no sound from the leader's rooms, but sometimes there was. Sometimes the leader laughed out loud. Sometimes he howled. Sometimes the people who went in were crying, or sometimes they'd yell. When the leader asked me what I heard, I'd say you couldn't hear anything from outside.
     These days a woman's been going through the leader's gate a lot. Really, I never heard a thing. The leader was always asking me if I'd heard anything. I think he was testing me.
     On the fifteenth day of the Spring Festival, a holiday, the leader took the day off. I was still guarding the gate.
     Fireworks were going off all over town.
     While I was watching and listening, enjoying the show, there was an explosion above my head and I fell to the ground. Afterwards some people helped me wipe off the blood. They used gestures to tell me I got hit by a firecracker. There was a buzzing in my head but I couldn't hear anything.
     The leader asked me if I could hear anything.
     I told him, "I really can't."
     The leader's secretary wrote me a note. It said, "Ears really are useful!"
     That's when I knew.
                                                                                                                                                                          (Metro Evening News [Jilin])

Flash Fiction Monthly, Premier Issue, Distinguished Authors' Manuscripts, (余途)
4. A Header Scores 头球破门
Text by Yu Yonghai

     I've loved sports, especially soccer, since I came out of the mold. I've risen to the level of a fanatic. Whenever I have the time, I'm with my buddies on a street or a vacant lot or a playground, soaking wet, happily kicking a ball around. This love of mine has survived all the way up to college, and has not only given me a healthy body, but has also allowed me to form friendships with lots of other guys who love the game.
     One day, on one of my buddies' birthday, a bunch of us went to a restaurant to celebrate. Because we were all young and energetic lushes, we drank and drank, really "going at" the booze hard. I've never been able to hold my liquor, and as the evening went on, I got plastered....
     When I came to, I found myself in a hospital bed! I looked around and saw Big Liu asleep by the bed. Several of the other guys were lying every which way on the floor, also asleep.
     I woke Big Liu up and asked, "What's going on? I remember we were drinking at the restaurant. How come we're in a hospital all of a sudden? Oh, man, and why does my head hurt so much?"
     "Don't move," Big Liu hurried to say when he saw me grimacing in pain. "What you need is rest. And that headache, jeez, you got it from soccer!"
     "That's right. When we were on our way back to the dorm after the party, you were crying and whining that you had to go to the athletic field for a walk. We couldn't stop you, so a bunch of us went along."
     "You're kidding me, right? How could I end up in a hospital from taking a walk?"
     "There wouldn't have been a problem if you'd just taken a walk, but when you got to the goalpost on the soccer field, there was a lead shot that had left there after some PE class. You got all excited and picked it up, and threw it in the air and shouted, 'Watch this! A header! He scores!' Then we came here...."
                                                                                                                        Recommended by Lotta Fish from the Wuhan Morning Post

Translated from 分节阅读,
5. Lawyer Explains the Law, A 律师说法
Liu Lang

     It was evening. The telephone in the lawyer's office rang unexpectedly.
     When the lawyer picked up he heard a man's voice, "Are you a lawyer?"
     "I am."
     "Can you help me?"
     "Of course I can, that's my profession."
     "I was working in a factory," the man went on. "But the boss never signed a contract with me, so I feel there're no guarantees."
     The lawyer said, "The Labor Contract Law stipulates that a written labor contract must be signed within a month after establishing an employment relationship."
     "But I've been working for five months, and the boss hasn't signed a labor contract."
     "Then I congratulate you," the lawyer said. "The law provides that if more than one month passes without an employment contract, the employer must pay you double your wages."
     "Is that so? That black-heart not only hasn't signed a contract, he makes me work overtime a lot for no reason, too, without giving me even a penny of extra pay."
     "Sue him," the lawyer advised. "The law requires at least time-and-a-half for overtime."
     "Really? That's great! Thanks, man. Say, what are you doing at the office so late?"
     "Oh, the firm assigned me a case file to clear up on a rush basis."
     "You're working overtime, too, huh?"
     "Overtime's normal in this line of business."
     "Well, do you get overtime pay?" the man asked. "That time-and-a-half that the law requires?"
     The lawyer momentarily didn't know what to say. "This, uh, we generally don't get that."
     "Yeah," the man shouted, "my boss keeps telling me that, too. I get it, now. Thank you!"
                                                                                                                                                                      (Published in Essays Newspaper)

Posted by 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, Story #9
6. Local Specialties 土特产
Text by Three Stones

     The Leader went to some of the village-level enterprises on an inspection tour.
     He arrived at the cigarette factory. The factory manager gave his report first, and then the leader issued some important directives. When the Leader was about to leave, the manager went and got several cartons of soft-packed Zhong Hua cigarettes. "How can this be?" the Leader asked unhappily. "Those cigarettes would go for thousands of Yuan. I can't accept them."
     "They're our own product, so we didn't have to spend any money to buy them on the open market," the manager replied with a smile. "Just a little taste of a local specialty, that's all."
     The Leader acquiesced when the manager said that, and put the cigarettes into the trunk of his car.
     Next he arrived at the alcoholic beverages consortium. Again, the consortium's director gave his report first, and then the Leader issued some important directives. When the Leader was about to leave, the director brought out several cases of expensive alcoholic beverages. "How can this be?" the Leader asked unhappily. "Those beverages would go for a lot of money. I can't accept them."
     "They're our own product, so we didn't have to spend any money to buy them on the open market," the director replied with a smile. "Just a little taste of a local specialty, that's all."
     The Leader acquiesced when the director said that, and put the beverages into the trunk of his car.
     Next he arrived at the handicrafts factory. As before, the factory manager gave his report first, and then the Leader issued some important directives. When the Leader was about to leave, the manager brought in several exquisitely handcrafted items and immediately said, "These are our own products, a sampling of local specialties. Please accept these small keepsakes."
     This time the Leader didn't say no. Several handicraft items were also put in the trunk of his car.
     It was already lunchtime when the Leader arrived at the bank, so the bank manager took him straightaway to a restaurant. They ate and drank while the manager gave his report and the Leader issued his directives, and they were satiated by the time the work had been reviewed and was done. When the Leader was about to leave, the bank manager stuffed a large red envelope into his hand. The Leader didn't open it to look, but he knew there was money inside, and he hurriedly declined the gift.
     "I can't accept this, I can't accept this," he said.
     "This is our specialty product," the bank manager replied.
     When he heard that, the Leader accepted the big red envelope with no qualms.
                                                                                                                                                                    Selected from Essay Inquiries

Translated from 分节阅读, also available at
7. Magical Power 魔力
Wan Junhua

     At middle age, Fatty Wang wasn't an official, but he very much had the look of one. It was really hard on him carrying a "Generalissimo's belly" around all day.
     They say exercise is life, so he decided to go jogging on some days and play ball on others. Jogging was too lonely, though, and it was hard to find people to play ball with.
     After much research and thought, he realized that swimming would be best: If he went swimming every chance he got, he could both lose weight and be around people.
     And so Fatty Wang went to a swim club and spent 3,800 Yuan on a one-year gold card. The first day he went swimming, the water was too cold so he didn't go in. The second day he copied other people and warmed up before going in, but after one lap he was so tired he couldn't move any more. The third day he wised up: He told his wife he was going swimming but in fact went to the teahouse with some friends and played cards.
     But he got his just desserts. That same evening his wife and her friends also came to the teahouse to play cards, and she caught him red-handed: "You spend all that money and then you don't go swimming? If you die this year, it'll be in that pool with me."
     She was as good as her word. For fully half a month after that, she escorted him to the pool and supervised him while he was in the water. He had to complete ten taps before he could get back up on the deck.
     During that period, Fatty Wang's arms and legs were so tired that he couldn't move. He rued the day he'd decided to swim: "When will these days of trial and tribulation come to an end? Lord, I spent all that money just to buy a jail term as a criminal. If I'd known this was going to happen, I wouldn't have bought that gold card even if they'd beaten me to death."
     Before he knew it, a whole year had sped by. And the strange thing was, he bought a gold card for another year!
    Every afternoon after work, people would see Fatty Wang going swimming, no matter what.
     But when he was in the pool, he would be seen joking around with a pretty girl. Sometimes they'd mess around, and sometimes they'd swim shoulder to shoulder like fish in the water!
     His wife was secretly pleased that he was putting so much energy into exercising. "When you're dealing with men," she thought, "that trick really works."
                                                                                                                       Originally printed in Hebei-Shanxi Evening News, 2009/6/16

Flash Fiction Monthly, Premier Issue, Distinguished Authors' Manuscripts, (万俊华)
8. Man 男人
Liu Lang

     He crawled out of bed early that morning, folded the quilt and went to the bathroom to wash up. The "whizzing" sound of him peeing woke her up, even though the door was closed. She rolled over impatiently. "Can you not crash around so much?" she said. "You woke me up."
     He loved her very deeply and felt that this was indeed a problem. His job was a long way from their home, so he had to get up over an hour before her every day. The bathroom was in the bedroom, so even with the door closed, it was hard to keep from making noise in the early morning The problem had been haunting him.
     Then one day an idea popped into his head. "Right, I'll sit on the toilet like she does. That'll solve the problem, won't it?"
     He gave it a try, and of course the sound of the rushing torrent changed into a gentle drizzle. He was proud of his creativity over the next several days. Until she asked, "How come I'm not aware of it when you get up early now?" That made him feel even more self-satisfied.
     "It's my secret," he said. "I won't tell you."
     The man gradually got used to sitting down to pee. Whether he was at work at the company or away travelling on business, if there was a toilet he would sit and if there wasn't he would squat. One time he tried to pee standing up, to remind himself what it felt like, and to his surprise he couldn't squeeze out even a drop.
     Two years later, she told him she wanted a divorce. Supposedly it was because he was too effeminate.
     He accepted the news with amazement. He was such a fine-hearted fellow, though, that he very quickly found another woman to love.
     They began living together on a trial basis. When she saw him sitting to pee, she exclaimed in surprise, "What the heck are you doing? Are you a pervert?"
     He smiled in embarrassment. "It's a habit. Actually, sit or stand, what difference does it make?"
     He wanted to explain further but she interrupted him sharply. "But the man I'm looking for stands up to pee!"
                                                                                                                                                                      (Published in "Fiction Monthly")

Stories by 刘浪,Posted by 浪不起来, Story #5
9. The Wondrous "Safety Helmet" 秒用“安全帽”
Text by Sun Hao

     Early one morning, against all custom, they started distributing safety helmets at the work site. They distributed them all around until only Old Man Hao was left. He said his job was looking after the lumber and he had no need for one. This made Old Man Wu so mad he couldn't breathe. He turned around and went back to his office.
     The boss arrived at the site with an entourage at nine o'clock. Almost all of them were wearing mono-colored yellow helmets, except the fat man walking in front, who wore a conspicuous white one.
     Old Man Wu recognized him. The fat man was none other than County Commissioner Li, who was always showing up on television!
     Old Man Hao felt the acid coming up in his throat, but he suppressed it and ran out with a purpose. As he swaggered through the crowd, his bald head shone brightly enough to hurt one's eyes. Commissioner Li saw him and stepped quickly forward, right in front of Old Man Wu. In a kindly voice he said, "You need to think safety when you're on the work site, old fellow." As he was speaking, he took his own helmet off and placed it carefully on Old Man Hao's head.
     The next day a pictorial story entitled "Commissioner Personally Gives Migrant Worker a Helmet to Wear" appeared in the newspaper. Old Man Hao's heart blossomed with joy. He told everyone he ran into, "Commissioner Li really has the interests of us migrant workers at heart. What a great leader!"
     During the autumn harvest, Old Man Hao returned home to his village to help out. He never forgot to wear the helmet while he worked, primarily as protection from the weather, but also because it made him happy. Some blabbermouth let the story behind the helmet out of the bag, and it spread quickly through the entire village.
     Not long later, some news came in from the work site: A scaffold had collapsed due to quality problems and several workers had been injured. The boss had been arrested and the trail led back to Commissioner Li. It turned out that the person responsible for the installation of the scaffolding was one of his family members.
     At night on the day the news reached the village, Old Man Hao locked himself in his room. He had very mixed feelings about the matter.
     Bright and early the next morning, the villagers saw Old Man Hao watering and fertilizing the vegetables with a shit-scoop tied to a long bamboo pole. They couldn't help crying out in surprise when they took a closer look. "That filthy shit-scoop, isn't it his helmet?"
                                                                                                                                   Recommended by Si Zhizheng from Stories Magazine

Translated from 分节阅读, available at
10. Snitching 举报
Liu Lang

     Lu Four met with misfortune. Or more accurately it was his wife, Zhou Three's, misfortune.
     While he was away at work, a group of people suddenly broke into their rented room. There were both men and women, and they were all wearing the badges of the Family Planning Commission on their chests.
     Zhou Three had a big, protruding belly, so she hid on the roof of the rental unit. She was discovered even so.
     After checking her documents, the group led her away. She was back a few days later, her eyes red and her belly already flat.
     Lu Four cried his eyes out. He had four baby daughters, and he'd sworn he'd never give up until had a son!
     When Zhou Three got pregnant again, Lu Four took her to quit her job. They changed their residence and quietly began to live life as recluses. They were planning to move back to their hometown after a while.
     But that's when the misfortune occurred. Some friends who worked with Lu Four, and who were also from the same village, came to visit them. They got into a heated discussion, saying it was certain that someone who knew what was going on would report them. They'd heard that anyone who filed a report about such a thing could get a 200 Yuan reward.
     At this point someone said that if they found out who the snitch was, they'd beat him half to death. Not only that, they'd give him a beating every time they ran across him!
     Everyone was at sixes and sevens about who might be the one to snitch. They thought it over and talked about it, then thought and talked some more, but couldn't think of anyone who might be such a rat.
     Lu Four spoke up. "Forget these wild speculations. I'm going to have our landlord turn us in. This time we had a type-B ultrasound. It's another girl, and me and Zhou Three don't want it. But we figure it costs almost a thousand Yuan to get an abortion here. It'll be better to let the public sector take her in for a free abortion. Save us some money."
     Lu Four concluded with one more remark. "The landlord's a good guy and said that when he gets the reward, he won't keep it for himself. He'll count it toward our next month's rent."
     Everyone was stunned speechless, and no wonder. In this situation, would it be better to offer condolences or congratulations?
                                                                                                                                                                         (Published in Satire and Humor)

Posted by 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, Story # 10
11. Three Old Pieces (Part 1) 老三篇
Author: Tang Boniu

     Old Wang got together with some friends, and everyone wanted him to sing karaoke. He went through all the sheet music and announced that he could only sing three of the songs: "Katyusha" [a WWII-era Russian song], "Troika" [a Russian folk song] and "The Sun is Reddest, Chairman Mao is Dearest" [from the late Cultural Revolution]. As for the other songs, he said he not only couldn't sing them, he hadn't even heard of them.
     His friends laughed and said the "three old pieces" were too behind the times. Some said Old Wang was trying to establish an image as a revolutionary. Others said he was he was the kind of guy who's afraid of and too lazy to accept new things.
     Old Wang said, "Hasn't history already passed me by? Do you want me to work my ass off learning new things?"
     Then some of them said, "Really, people of Old Wang's generation are just too quaint. They're all idealists, the last generation of idealists." This kind of talk almost made Old Wang want to cry.
     A year later Old Wang got together with his friends again. After dinner they wanted to sing, so they hustled around looking for the "three old pieces" for Old Wang. They searched a long time and finally thought they'd found one, but when they played it through, it turned out not to be one of the "three old pieces". Instead it was "Love You Cruel", number two on the latest top hits list.
     While everyone was being perturbed and surprised, Old Wang just cleared his throat and sang the part of an accompanist:

         "I love you, love so cruel,
         "I love you, love so crazy,
         "I love you, love to death,
         "I love that dum-boo-see,
         "La-boo-dum, doo-boo-doh,
         "Za-boo-dum, Xi-dum-la-dum-xi-dum....
         "Ya-hu-ai-hu-ee-hu, ai-ai!"

     The guys were shocked. One of the old friends, a fellow with a history of coronary heart disease, dropped to the floor. Another one, with a history of cervical spondylosis, fainted on the spot. As for the rest of the old friends, some yelled, some laughed, some cried, some drooled and made a bunch of noise. Others farted or pissed in their pants. There was kung fu fightin' all over the place. It was an extremely rowdy scene.

21st Century Chinese Literature Compendium; 2002 Short Stories, p. 355
Translated from version at
12. Three Old Pieces (Part 2) 老三篇
Author: Tang Boniu

     Just when it looked like it would never end, the computer-controlled karaoke machine suddenly resumed normal operation. The famous Russian folk song "Troika" appeared on the screen and came out through the speakers.
     Old Wang sang with emotion:

          "Snow lies upon the Volga,
          "O'er the ice goes the troika...."

     Then everything returned to normal. The coronary artery of the fellow with heart disease had already cleared up, the one with cervical spondylosis was no longer dizzy, and the droolers wiped their mouths. The ones who'd farted hurried to open the windows, and those who'd pissed in their drawers ran to the toilet and changed their underwear....
     The guys asked Old Wang, "Hey, what was that all about, old man?"
     "I don't know what it was any more than you do," he replied.
     "So what about that Love You Cruel? What was all that 'dum-boo-zui, ya-hu-ai-hu' stuff?"
     "Good God," Old Wang said. "What's the use asking me? I really don't know what happened!"
     One of the friends was a senior electronics specialist. He said, "I'm afraid it was due to a computer virus flare-up."
     One of others, a great philosopher, snickered like he had a different opinion.

21st Century Chinese Literature Compendium; 2002 Short Stories, p. 358
Translated from version at
13. Transoceanic Phone Call 越洋电话
Wan Junhua

     Obama was excited. He dialed a transoceanic telephone call as soon as he entered his hotel room.
——"Mom, tell my little brother to come to China," he said. "It's easy to make money in China."
     Seagull Province's Annual Coastal Cities Commercial Investment Opportunities Convention was underway in the meeting room on the eighteenth floor of the five-star Gold Sunlight Hotel in Seaside City.
——Mother was curious. "Since you've been saying that graduating from college in China means unemployment, I can't imagine how you found a job this quickly. What kind of job is it?" she asked.
——"I can't explain," Obama answered, "but government agencies and businesses in a lot of places in China are offering free airfare, free rooms in high-class hotels, free gourmet meals, free tours – and a salary besides."
     Obama, whom the organizers had "appointed" as a member of the Executive Committee of the Sino-American Commercial Association, had gone to the podium in the convention hall to express his enthusiastic "expert opinions".
——Mother didn't believe it. "That can't be. Could you really get that kind of manna from heaven? When did my son start learning to tell lies?"
——"Really, I'm not fooling." He told her more. "I got a huge salary this month – a hundred thousand Yuan! Next I'll be asking local politicians and foreign dignitaries to do the ribbon-cutting for the 'Worldwide Grand Opening Sale' of the 'Century Amusement Park Apartments' by our city's True Preference Beautiful Residential Real Estate Development Company."
——Mother was getting worried. "I'm thinking more and more that there's something fishy about this. You wouldn't be doing anything illegal, would you?"
——"I was worried about that, too, at first," Obama explained, "but they told me, there's nothing illegal about hiring people [for ceremonies]."
——"Ah, and that's exactly what you're doing – hiring yourself out. But why do they want to hire you?" she asked him pointedly.
——"I don't know," Obama said. "Yeah, why…?"

Flash Fiction Monthly, Premier Issue, Distinguished Authors' Manuscripts, (万俊华)
14. Who's Wasting Whose Time? 谁耽误谁
Text by He Jinjian

     "Hello, Sir!" a sweet female voice rang out when I answered the phone. "You've made online purchases, right?"
     "Uh.... It's like this, sir. I'd like to take a moment of your time. Our company has initiated a Customer Feedback Reward Program. The cell phone number you left when you made a purchase from us has been drawn for a prize. I'm pleased to inform you that your cell phone number 138 ******** has won the second place prize...."
     "Yes, this is hard to come by."
     "What's the prize?"
     "Mmm.... This raffle doesn't have physical prizes. The prizes are awards points. You've won the second place prize, which is 1,000 points. You're really very lucky...."
     "Uh, please get to the point, Miss. I'm busy right now."
     "OK, OK, sir, just give me a moment, OK?"
     "Your 1,000 points are worth 1,000 Yuan when making a purchase. You can select from a Swiss gold watch specially priced at 5,888 Yuan; laptops imported from Japan are 7,888 Yuan; we also have a gift set of four boxes of lady's White Glow Revitalizer imported from France in the original packaging, which are 8,888 Yuan.... May I ask, sir, which one would you like?"
     "I don't need any of them, miss."
   "You don't need any of them? Why did you listen for so long if you don't need any of them? You deliberately wasted my time, didn't you...."

[Fannyi actually had this experience with a telemarketer in the U.S. many years ago.​]

15. Where Does the Leader Sit? 领导坐哪里
Author: Hao Xiezhen

     I was recently transferred to an agency in the bureaucracy to work as a copywriter. Since I was a neophyte, I was often confused by the bureaucracy's unwritten rules....
     One day when I was bent over my desk writing something, the unit's "Number One" pushed open the door. "Come on, Little Hao," he said to me, "take a trip out into the field with me!"
     I scratched the back of my head and told him, "I'm right in the middle of a rush job."
     My supervisor, who was sitting across from me, interrupted and said, "Well, that stuff can wait a couple of days!"
     "You were just pushing me for it," I thought to myself, "said it had to be done this morning. How come things have turned around all of a sudden....?"
     So, I followed "Number One" out to the agency's courtyard, where the driver had already brought the car up to the door. I was so new, I didn't even know that protocol required me to open the car door for superiors and let them get in first. I'd just seen that high officials on TV shows always sit in the back seat, so I opened the front passenger door and dove right in. In the rear view mirror I saw "Number One" look startled for a moment, then open the rear door and get in the back seat with a displeased expression on his face....
     "Number One" didn't take me on any more field trips after that. I thought it over but couldn't figure out what had happened. It wasn't until later that I found out from the driver that "Number One" likes to ride shotgun. I'd grabbed his seat, so naturally he was upset.
     But we learn from our mistakes. I thought that "Number One" liking the shotgun seat was a precedent that would hold true for other leaders would as well, and I engraved this rule in my mind....
     Not long after that the Unit's "Number Two" took me out to the field. I was a little more "in the know" this time. I took the initiative and opened the front passenger-side door for him, and said obsequiously, "Please get in, sir."
     Who could have known? "Number Two" looked at me in disdain and snorted, "Hrumph!" He opened the rear door himself and got in. Suddenly I was struck dumb, standing there like a fool, too ashamed to move....
I didn't come out of it until the driver yelled at me to get in the car....
     Oh! So "Number Two" likes to sit in the back. It was too late to do anything about it, though. I thought to myself that this bureaucracy has so many unwritten rules, in the future I'll have to be more observant and think things through better. Otherwise I won't even know the proper way to die....

柳州晚报, 2014-03-16, p. 23, Liuzhou Evening News

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9. Safety Helmet, The
10. Snitching
11. Three Old Pieces (1)
12. Three Old Pieces (2)

1. Bottom Line, The
2. Discretion
3. Ears
4. Header Scores, A

13. Transoceanic Call
14. Wasting Time
15. Where to Sit

5. Lawyer Explains, A
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7. Magical Power
8. Man

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