Chinese Stories in English
Merry-Go-Round Stories (Page 9)
7. Should've Been Me That Left
8. The Seat
9. A Higher Skill Level
1. Fifth Uncle Feng
2. Director Wang's Retirement
3. Money Tree
4. Write Down How Much
1. Fifth Uncle Feng (冯五爷)
Feng Jicai (冯骥才)
Fifth Uncle Feng was from Ningbo in Zhejiang Province. The Feng family produced two types of people, merchants and scholars. They were intelligent folks whose noggins were a match for those ivory balls-within-balls carved by that Cantonese fellow Weng Wuzhang: layer within layer, each with its own style. Thus the ones who went into business got really rich, and the ones who were scholars became literary giants and high-ranking officials.
There were five men and two women in Fifth Uncle's generation. He brought up the rear. His brothers had already started their own families and business careers in far-away Shanghai and Tianjin, leaving only Fifth Uncle at home to hit the books. The others had grown up like river carp, with skeletons as slender as fish bones and flesh as tender as fish bellies. They looked more like literary show-off material than money-making rich guys.
If you quoted the first part of a sentence from any book that Fifth Uncle had read, he could recite the rest of the sentence from memory. It's said that only Wang Anshi of the Song Dynasty had also had this ability. As for his own oral and written aphorisms, no one failed to be swayed. Everyone said that the prospects for this generation of the Feng family rested in him.
Both his parents were interred when Fifth Uncle was twenty-five. He sold the house and moved his family to Tianjin. His purpose was to cast his lot with his brothers and friends there, and build his stairway to Heaven.
He went with high hopes, but Tianjin is a commercial town. Writing brushes are for bookkeeping and no one reads books, so naturally nobody looks up to scholars. It was like, if gold and books were lying on the ground, which would you pick up? Others made fortunes, and Fifth Uncle was envious, so he changed his thinking and decided to get his feet wet in business. But he didn't know a thing about it, so where to start?
When Chinese want to make money, their first idea is to open a restaurant. Food is Heaven for people, so they're willing to spend their cash for it. Three meals a day or their legs get weak, and the money goes to the restaurant owner. And in Tianjin, money is in the hands of businessmen, and business gets done mostly at the dinner table. What's more, Tianjin produces salt and the locals like salt on their food. Ningbo cuisine is salty and thus a good fit with their tastes.
So Fifth Uncle made up his mind to open a restaurant serving Ningbo dishes. He chose a site at busy Ma Family Intersection, constructed a building and picked "Scholar's Loft" as the name. He chose an auspicious day to hang out his sign and decorated for a grand opening. The restaurant opened with strings of firecrackers blasting.
Fifth Uncle dressed in the local style appropriate for a business owner: a dark blue floral robe with a solid gold chain flashing on his chest, and heavily oiled hair parted down the middle. He stood in the main hall to welcome the guests. Scholars are sticklers about the courtesies, and they're well spoken, too, so they get along fine with people.
Besides that, Scholar's Loft was the only Ningbo restaurant in Tianjin. The locals there love to stuff themselves with ocean fish and river shrimp, and in the hands of Ningbo cooks, those foods taste fresher than fresh. For that reason customers filled the restaurant every day after it opened, and "turned over" again for the evening meal.
For a long time at first, though, it didn't make much money, and Fifth Uncle was perplexed. Every day handfuls of money flew in like flocks of birds, but where did it all go? Then later on, when he checked the books, he found he was operating at a loss!
One day a young man who came from Ningbo as a helper plucked up the nerve to tell him. Only a limited amount of the chickens, ducks, fish and pork for the kitchen actually entered the mouths of customers. The cooks and waiters threw most of the inventory over the wall in the backyard, and their accomplices outside collected it. How much money could Scholar's Loft stand throwing out every day?
After Fifth Uncle got over his anger, he realized the problem was his own mental numbness. He knew the “Twenty-Four Histories” so well that they rolled off his tongue, so how had this gang of tray carriers and food fryers been able to put him in such a bind? He was going to make some cuts. He kept the fat chef he'd brought from his home in Ningbo, but except for him, the rest of the staff was history. He pulled the weeds out by the roots and replaced the whole crew. He also installed electric netting on top of the walls in the backyard. He thought all would be well after that, but he continued to operate in the red. What was going on?
Then one day, an old lady who lived near Scholar's Loft whispered in his ear. Every afternoon when the garbage truck arrived, as soon as they rang the bell at the back gate, workers from the restaurant would come out carrying seven or eight "dirt boxes" – what the locals called trash cans. But there was only a thin layer of garbage on top. Under that were galvanized cans and bags full of fresh fish, good wine and cigarettes. So, employees were actually working in collusion with outsiders to steal inventory this way. Didn't that amount to carrying money out in the dirt boxes every day?
One afternoon when the garbage was being taken out, Fifth Uncle rushed out and checked. It was indeed true. In a fury, he replaced the staff. But, even though the people were gone, the red ink on the books was still there.
Fifth Uncle couldn't believe he was so incompetent. He went to the restaurant with his eyes wide open every day and looked things over inside and out, but he couldn't find even a tiny problem. The literati live their lives in an ivory tower, and when they find themselves in the kaleidoscope of real life, they're "fools who think they're smart". Scholar's Loft was a ball ruined by the game, with all the air leaking out. The place declined while he watched. The business world had defeated him and he was just hanging on by a breath. When that was gone, no one would be able to do anything. Fewer customers led to even fewer customers; there was nothing to take from the take, and the waiters stopped waiting. Sometimes only half of the lights in the dining room were turned on.
There was only one little thing that really got Fifth Uncle's goat.
One day a young kid who acted as his personal servant told him there was a rumor going around. The biggest thief in Scholar's Loft was none other than the fat chef, the one who'd worked in his family's home and whom he'd brought with him from Ningbo. They said he had a severe case of kleptomania. Not a day nor an hour went by that he didn't steal something, and there was nothing he wouldn't steal. He had to take some swag with him every night when he went home. What's more, he was so skillful that it was absolutely impossible to find him out.
Fifth Uncle didn't want to believe it. This fat chef used to cook for his father, and before that, the guy's father had cooked for his grandfather. He'd long ago put down roots with the Feng Family. If he was a thief, couldn't anyone be?
All in all, though, Fifth Uncle had spent two years in business. He'd seen more phony smiles than real ones and heard more lies than truth, so he'd learned a thing or two. That night, at closing time for Scholar's Loft, Fifth Uncle took his young servant to the dining room lobby. He pulled a rattan divan up to a place where there was a bit of fresh air and, as he laid back, he looked up and said he wanted to catch a breath of air. Actually, he was going to catch a thief.
He didn't have long to wait. The fat chef put out the fire in the stove and came out from the back of the kitchen, headed for home. He wore only a loose-fitting pair of white trousers and cloth shoes with his heels sticking out the back – his head and his flabby belly were bare. A hand towel hung over his shoulder and he was carrying a paper lantern. He saw his boss and stopped to talk, not in any hurry to leave. His attitude was, "Look all you want!"
As Fifth Uncle chatted, his sharp scholar's eyes looked the chef up and down. He was assessing the situation in his mind – bare head, bare belly, where could he hide anything? Those raggedy old shoes couldn't hold a box of cigarettes! The lantern was shining brightly and anything inside would show. The crotch of his pants was baggy, but with the breeze blowing back and forth in the room, the outline of the chef's buttocks and thighs could be seen clearly.
Was there something wrapped in that hand towel on his shoulder? He's just started to suspect as much, but hadn't yet said anything, when the fat chef took the towel off his shoulder and threw it to the young servant. “It's cooled off outside." he said. "No use taking this towel to wipe of the sweat. Hang it on the clothesline in the backyard for me, will you?” Then he said good evening to Fifth Uncle and left, swinging the lantern jauntily as he went.
Fifth Uncle told the boy to unfold the towel. There was nothing in it. He'd almost wronged a good man.
The next day, however, the young servant heard that the fat chef had tricked them with the lantern the previous evening. It seems that the seat for the foreign candle in the lantern wasn't made of wood – it was a slab of frozen pork with a hole drilled in it. The meat weighed two pounds! That the guy had carried it off jauntily right under Fifth Uncle's eyes, with the light shining, was really awesome!
Fifth Uncle didn't say anything for three days after he heard that. On the fourth day, he closed down Scholar's Loft. Someone urged him to return to the literary world to continue his studies, but he shook his head and sighed. To be a scholar one must believe in the value of books. He couldn't even tell if there was a difference between a scholar's ability and a non-scholar's, so where would he get the heart to study?
Selected From 俗世奇人. Translated from 读书369 at http://www.dushu369.com/zhongguomingzhu/HTML/91851.html
2. Director Wang's Retirement (退休后的王局长)
Liu Lang (刘浪)
Director Wang retired.
After he retired, he often exercised at home. It seemed as if there never was an end to it.
His wife advised him, “You're retired, so take it easy. Let's join our community's group of senior dancers. We'll have people to talk with, and laugh. It'll be real pleasant.”
He listened to his wife, and joined the senior dance group. A few days later, though, said to his wife, "It's no fun. I used to watch performances, but now all those people come and watch me. I can't afford to lose so much face."
His daughter advised him, “You're retired, Dad, so take it easy. Go out and see the world. I'll go with you on tours, wherever you want. We'll go all over the place."
He listened to his daughter and went travelling. In the province, out of the province, in any event it was actually just running in one big circle. When his daughter wanted to plan their next trip, he said, "It's no fun traveling just to travel. I'm going to find something to do. I've still got some work left in me!"
So his wife and daughter both busied themselves doing their own thing. Over time, no one paid any attention to him anymore.
Thus Director Wang often stayed home in a rut: read the paper and sigh, watch TV and sigh…. It got to where he was constantly in a bad mood, cursing at this and swearing at that.
Their housekeeper upset him, too, and he often yelled at her. Yesterday she bought too much food, and today she didn't buy enough, or the things she bought didn't go well together, or whatever.
One day the housekeeper had had enough. She wrote out a shopping list, handed it to him and said, "Take a look at this. If there're no objections, it's what I'll buy; if you do have objections, add things or revise the list.” He glanced at the list and said, “OK, this'll do!”
The housekeeper was a no-nonsense type, too. "Let's do this," she said. "Since you agreed to it, sign your name on the list and we'll avoid whatever problem with you later on."
That stunned him. His face got flushed and he said animatedly, "Okay, okay, get a pen!"
He wrote “agreed” on the list faster than a dragon can fly, then jotted down his name. He looked at it closely before putting down the pen. He leaned back on the sofa and smiled comfortably.
As the housekeeper was going out the door, Director Wang didn't forget to remind her, "Let's do this every day when you go to buy food. It's a good way to do it!"
Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 37；Also available from 第一文库王 at
3. Money Tree (发财树)
Horizon Visitor (涯客)
In August a bonsai tree was added to Boss Bull’s desk – a money tree [Pachira Aquatica]. Its greenish branches and bright green leaves looked extremely fresh and clean in its square porcelain pot. Alone in his spare time Boss Niu admired the plant as he watered and tended it. By the end of the month, though, it was yellow and wilted.
In September Boss Bull bought a new money tree that was twice as large as the first one – in a round, beige-brown porcelain pot. Its branches were long and loaded with leaves, and the contrasting greens were so beautiful it hurt. As Boss Bull put it, "Green lives in my heart." Go figure. By the end of the month, the leaves were turning yellow and one could almost feel it withering. Boss Bull was distressed and couldn't think of a solution no matter how hard he tried.
In October Boss Bull told his secretary, "Young Wang, go to a nursery and buy another one, one even bigger and lusher." It had to do with the financial prospects of the company, an omen of sorts, and was thus not a trifling matter. He made a special point of explaining that it was crucial to consult with the nursery and get insights about growing plants.
Young Wang looked around the nursery and selected a potted plant that met the specifications described by Boss Bull. He made it a point to consult with the owner about cultivating techniques, but the owner just repeated old chestnuts like "sunshine, air circulation, maintain moisture."
After he'd walked a ways back toward the office, Young Wang happened to run into an old gardener. He handed the man a cigarette and they started to chat. The old man blew out a puff of smoke and looked at the words “Bull Family Umbrellas” printed on the work clothes Young Wang was wearing. After getting clear about the younger man's intentions, the old gardener asked indifferently, "You're with Bull Family Umbrellas?" Young Wang nodded yes.
"When you young people do umbrellas, you buy one and if it's a good one, you never have to buy another one again. Then who are you going to sell your umbrellas to?" The old man shook his head and smiled.
Young Wang looked confused and tried to ask him more, but instead of answering, the old man just pointed at the nursery owner's shop, nodding his head and laughing. Young Wang watched the old man stupidly as he walked slowly away, then started to hurry off himself.
A moment later, Young Wang seemed to understand something. He scurried back to the nursery, where the owner was still welcoming guests with polite civilities and sending them away with a smile.
Young Wang turned to face the shop's iron gate. When he saw the sign saying "Three-Star Local Business" in tasteful red characters, he understood. "Is that why he only got three stars? What a bummer! Even our 'Niu Family Umbrellas' is a 'Four-Star Local Business!' Isn't that just bully!"
Xiao Wang seemed to have gained an insight about operating a nursery: To sell more plants, don't help your customers keep them alive. But there was one thing he didn't know. How was he going to explain that to Boss Bull when he got back....
漄愙的博客 at http://blog.tianya.cn/post-3185941-27640635-1.shtml
4. Write Down How Much (写多少)
Horizon Visitor (涯客)
Big Forest and several colleagues got together in a tavern. After they finished eating, they were ready for the check.
Big Forest, slightly the worse for wear, wobbled up to the service counter. The boss greeted him with a laugh. He brought out a receipt form and took pen in hand. In good humor, he asked, “How much should I write it for?”
"Aren't you adding it up?" Big Forest started coughing. He'd choked on his cigarette smoke and for a moment wasn't too clear about what the boss was saying.
"Some people like it when I write down more, but others like it when I down write less," the boss explained.
"Huh?" Big Forest took a mouthful of tea. He was still suffering from the effects of his coughing fit. He was a little confused and didn't quite understand what was going on.
"If I write down more, you add more to your expense account; if I write down less, it'll look better on your expense account with your wife when you get home." The boss spoke slowly and with a good deal of wit.
“Ha, ha,” Big Forest laughed, spraying some tea. Pointing to Ice he said “My wife's here, too. So much for that account book!”
"Ha, ha.” The boss giggled a bit as he put the pen and the receipt form aside. He pressed some keys on a calculator with a practiced hand. "Then you'll each get your own check."
Big Forest was startled, but paid the bill right away and took his receipt.
As he was turning to leave, the boss said, "Take your time." He looked so self-satisfied, holding a cup of tea in his left hand and a banana-leaf fan in his right – and a face-full of smiles, with an elfish air showing through from deep inside.
As tavern customers constantly came up to the service counter to pay their bills, one could see the boss sitting there, still just doing what he was doing....
漄愙的博客 at http://blog.tianya.cn/post-3185941-28721933-1.shtml
5. Posture (姿势)
Zhang Haiyang (张海洋)
As the office manager of a bureau in a certain city, Manager Liu was a person who could never take a break. He was circling around his leaders almost twenty-four hours a day. Today was one of those rare days when he had some time, so he went with his lover* on a stroll through a shopping center. His lover looked at the man beside her, a man who was “dominated” by his leaders, and felt that she was really well off.
As they were strolling, his lover happened to notice something strange about his posture when he was walking. A normal person walks with his body facing forward, but Manager Liu faced a bit to one side and sort of sidled along. At first she thought it was because he was being attentive to her, and his posture would make it more convenient for him to talk to her. She watched him closely, however, and discovered that he walked the same way even when he was walking by himself. Could he be sick? A dark cloud came over her.
When they were chatting that evening, she first spoke about a bunch of household matters. Then, feigning indifference, she asked him how he'd been feeling lately. He replied absently, "I just feel tired. I can't get anything done. People keep asking me questions, one thing after another...."
"Why not go to the hospital for a checkup? You can't just work for the revolution – you've got to revolutionize your own assets as well."** She spoke firmly.
Manager Liu shook his head. "I'm going out in the field with the leaders tomorrow to show our concern for the masses. Where would I find the time to go to the hospital?"
His lover got more determined. She grabbed his cell phone and called the Assistant Office Manager to tell him to take over for the Manager the next day.
He fretted all morning before his complete physical at the city hospital, but the examination results were basically normal, except for minor problems like slight hypertension that are common in middle-aged men. That didn't stop his lover from worrying and she consulted a specialist without telling him. The specialist also found that he was in good health and recommended continued observation and some lifestyle changes.
She was still worried despite the doctors' conclusions and decided to seek the advice of someone who understood such things. She'd heard of a fellow called "Semi-Immortal Wang", a friend of her brother-in-law. He was just an old gate guard, but he was wise in the ways of the world and good at spotting problems, so she and her brother-in-law, with gifts in hand, went to see him for advice.
After listening to her description of Chief Liu's situation, "Semi-Immortal Wang" closed his eyes and thought for a moment. Then he told her, "He'll be promoted to a new position within half a year. He's in good health and not in need of medical treatment."
The Chief's lover couldn't thank "Semi-Immortal Wang" enough. A heavy stone had been mostly lifted from her heart. And it turned out that the old man's reputation was richly deserved. In the second half of the year, Manager Liu was transferred to a position as Department Director in the County government. His posture while walking returned to normal, or rather, he began walking with even more composure and sophistication than a normal person.
His lover's brother-in-law was also surprised when he heard all this. One evening when he was out drinking with “Semi-Immortal Wang” and they were both three sheets to the wind, he mentioned the matter. Wang laughed out loud and said, "When he was an office manager, his bizarre walking posture was caused by being always at his leader's side ready to serve him. It meant he was hard-working, so he would naturally be promoted at the next annual Cadre Reclassification. After he became a leader himself, his posture naturally adjusted."
"Ha, ha...." The brother-in-law laughed. "You're an old man who watches the gate at the city offices, but you really aren't an ordinary old gate guard!"
*[When the revolution was in full swing, the traditional terms for a spouse were considered "old China" and it was fashionable to refer to one's spouse as "airen", literally "person I love", usually translated as "lover". The term is seldom used these days. – Fannyi]
**[From the revolutionary maxim 身体是革命的本钱, "Our bodies are the capital of the revolution. – Fannyi]"
河南工人日报 at http://www.hngrrb.cn/hngrrb/page/1/2016-04/08/04/2016040804_pdf.pdf, middle center
6. Gifts (礼物)
Liu Lang (刘浪)
As soon as Wang Three came in the door that evening, his mother came up to help him with the bulging bag in his hand. “Good boy," she said. "You go out on a trip with a big bag of stuff, and still have a big bag of stuff when you come back. All the food and drinks I made for you to take along, you didn’t bring them back again, did you?”
"No," Wang Three said. "Those things are all gone. What I have now are gifts. There's one for each of you, so the bag's a bit heavy."
At the mention of gifts, Wang Three's wife came over from the computer and his son ran up from in front of the TV.
"You brought gifts? What kind of gifts? I don't want anything too cheap!" his wife said.
Wang Three opened his bag and brought out a pair of trendy electric foot warmer slippers. "I bought you a pair of slippers, hon'. Over three hundred yuan. Now you won't get cold feet when you go online in the middle of the night."
His wife smiled. "Thanks! I didn't know you could be so thoughtful," she said.
She took the slippers and happily went back into the study.
"Do I get a gift?" His son was next to start nagging. "What is it? I don't want it if it's no good!"
Wang Three opened his bag again and took out a beautifully packaged electric car. "I bought you a toy car, son," he said. "Over two hundred yuan. I bet it's a lot more upscale than the ones your little friends play with."
The son laughed. "Thanks, Dad. You were generous this time."
He picked up the toy and ran happily into the bedroom.
"What about me? Do I get a gift?" His mother grinned as she asked, not quite believing he'd brought her anything.
Wang Three opened his bag for a third time. He brought out a stack of colorful dishcloths wrapped in transparent film. “I bought you a pack of bamboo fiber dishcloths, Mom. The manufacturer's ads say they're strong and long-lasting, and good for cleaning grease. They were ten yuan for a three-pack, and I bought fifty yuan worth. You can use them for a long time."
His mother smiled. "You're just a child, throwing your money away. Who needs to use such good dishrags?"
She took the rags, sighed, and walked into the kitchen. She had mixed feelings.
Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up; also available from 天涯社区 at
http://bbs.tianya.cn/post-shortmessage-158090-1.shtml, story 29
7. Should've Been Me That Left (安静离开的人应该是我)
Horizon Visitor (涯客)
In the afternoon, Manager Wang let out a deep breath and told Big Forest to come with him to the train station to take a few shots of the evening scene. He and Big Forest are both camera buffs in a photography club. There's no need to say that Mr. Wang was naturally delighted when his young secretary wanted to tag along.
Mr. Wang is a gentleman with a stately demeanor, and his young secretary was all dressed up. Big Forest played the typical supporting role –driver, porter, water boy, wardrobe assistant and whatnot. They got to the train station in no time and took a good set of photos of the evening scene.
They shot the rush of people in the setting sun; the powerful trains in the twilight; talented men with beautiful women; gentlemen in high spirits; and helpless-looking young women....
Amid all the hustle and bustle, the young secretary kept making frequent phone calls. Dazed, Mr. Wang watched her helplessly as she made a call. Then he straightened his back, puffed out his chest, and a look of detachment came over his face, as though he were watching the world go by from afar.
"I'm sorry, sir, I have to go – my uncle's in the hospital," the little secretary said abruptly in an urgent whisper. "I've got to go to the Brighter Light Hospital...." Her face was turning pale as she moved close to Mr. Wang.
"What's that?" Manager Wang asked, looking serious.
"Really, my uncle's had an accident. I have to go…." She shook her head and took her things from my [sic] hand. As she was leaving, she turned her head and said, "Sorry! Bye-bye!" in English.
Mr. Wang's solemn face slowly relaxed. He waved goodbye to her and watched her as she walked away. He kept watching until she disappeared in the distance.... Then he turned and looked at the scene in front of him and said sadly, "There's less to shoot now!"
They called it quits a short time later.
Mr. Wang spoke frankly on the way home. He said with assurance that my photography skills needed to be improved. "You've got to put more thought into driving that car. Take your time. Pay more attention from now on…."
Big Forest complained to himself, "My photography? I'm a VIP member of our club. Six years, so I'm an old hand at driving that car."
Then he thought, "What happened today?" He mulled it over in his mind. "That young secretary left so abruptly. Was I wrong? What if this evening – Should I have been the one to slip away?" He wilted at the thought.
The next day, Big Forest went to the dispatch room as he always did to wait for instructions. He passed the security office on the way. A security guard said that the manager took car “XXXX889” out on “business” the previous evening.
Big Forest looked at car “XXXX889” parked in its old place, and didn't say anything for a long time. He was thinking of what Mr. Wang had said: “Put more thought into driving that car. Take your time. Pay more attention”. He felt lost, really out of it. It seemed he really had made an innocent mistake!
漄愙的博客 at http://blog.tianya.cn/post-3185941-28287731-1.shtml
8. The Seat (位子)
Liu Guofang (刘国芳)
A young woman got on the bus with a dog in her arms, a jet black dog that looked quite expensive. There were two empty seats. The woman put her dog in one of them and sat down in the other.
Several other passengers got on after the woman. One of them stepped slowly to where the woman was sitting, staring in disbelief that she'd let her dog have a seat. He didn't like it much. He wanted to put half his butt down on the seat where the dog was sitting, but the dog's look put him off and he gave up on the idea.
The conductor came over.
The conductor looked at the dog, and looked at the woman, and then spoke up. "Take your dog off the seat and let someone sit down."
"I got on first. What right do you have to ask me to give up the seat?"
The conductor said, "I'm not asking you to give up your seat. I want your dog to give up its seat."
"My dog got on before them, too. On what basis do you want it to give up its seat?"
"This is a seat for people, not for dogs."
A passenger who'd been listening wasn't convinced. "You say it's the same," she interrupted. "Does it make you happy to say you're the same as a dog?"
The woman was furious. "You're the dog."
The passenger smiled. "I'd say it doesn't make you happy."
"What's the big deal?" the woman said. "I'll buy a ticket for the dog, OK?"
"Not OK," the conductor replied. "Only people can sit in seats. How can you buy a dog a ticket?"
“What's so special about people?" the woman snorted. "There're people who'd suffer by comparison to my dog. This dog of mine has been on TV and on the cover of a magazine. How many people can say that?"
One of the other passengers got angry. "Your dog's so amazing, looks like you want to be a dog yourself in your next life."
"You're the one who'll be a dog in your next life," the woman answered.
The conductor lost his patience. "Either take it off the seat or don't," he shouted. "If you don't, I'll throw it off."
The girl was afraid for the dog, so she had to hold it in her arms.
A seat had become vacant.
But no sat in it. The conductor looked around and said to the other people on the bus, "There's an empty seat here. Who'll sit in it?"
No one moved.
"There's a seat here," he repeated. "Who'll come and sit down."
Still no one moved.
Just then the bus arrived at the next stop. A few people got off, and a few more got on. One of them saw the empty seat and walked over, but didn't sit down right away. Several people were standing by the vacant seat and if they wanted to sit, it would be theirs. The newcomer looked suspiciously at a man by the seat, looked at the seat again, then plopped his butt down when he didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
A child started yelling after the man took the seat. "A dog was just sitting there."
The man looked at the dog in the woman's arms next to him and stood up.
The seat was vacant again.
When the woman saw the seat was empty again, she immediately put the dog down on it.
This time, nobody said a word.
9. A Higher Skill Level (精神更可嘉)
Rainy Wang (王雨)
Zhang and Li were "wunderkinds" in the township government. When they learned that the township was going to promote one cadre, both their minds started working fast. They both wanted to “move up”, so they started working like the Eight Immortals crossing the sea, actively drumming up support from all over the place.
A month later, Zhang ran into Li. Zhang had his head held high—.
Li was surprised and asked around behind Zhang’s back. Sure enough, it turned out that Zhang had named the township mayor’s wife as his godmother!
A week later, Li ran into Zhang. He turned his head and wouldn’t look Zhang in the eye.
Zhang got flustered and asked around. It turned out that Li had one-upped him. The township’s Communist Party chairman had become his godfather!
It was surely survival of the fittest. Li was chosen for the promotion.
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