Aug 16, 2012

Payday. Hallelujah.

It's Wednesday. 

That means a 4:30 bus ride to the hospital, a 15 flight elevator ride surrounded by parents holding their only child who somehow found it's way to the children's hospital, and a 1.5 hour english class with the doctors. The same as it has been every Wednesday for the past 2 years.

Only this time I was in the elevator by myself. No pushing people, no screaming kids, no staring grandparents...just me. All alone. It was a strange feeling. Until the elevator opened at floor 8. 

A family of 3 (as most Chi.nese families are) stood staring at me as the doors slid slowly open. Their eyes widened at the sight of a redheaded monster. "What do we do?" the dad said. And the doors slid slowly closed and they remained on the other side. 

I kind of chuckled to myself until the doors slid open at floor 12 and the same thing happened. The people refused to get onto the elevator - stunned immobile by the lowly foreigner in the other side of the doors. 

It was amusing to say the least. 

I reached the 15th floor all alone and pulled out my keys to the office space where I am not the scary foreigner, I am Jessica, teacher and friend. I like that place. 

Work was normal. I gave them personality tests and they thought it was so fun. Thinking of your individual personality is not typical Chin.ese behavior, they have never heard of Myers Briggs, etc. So my printed off test was both thought-provoking and entertaining. 

"Am I the 'life of the party'?" 50 year old head-pharmacist Ruby asked me as she answered question #1. "Yes, yes you are," I replied. 

After class Michael and I had our usual pow-wow. I gave him his wedding present (from last October) that my mom finally sent from America. The concept of a platter was unknown and so was the word "platter" that took a 4 minute "pwadder" - NO - "PL-A-TT-ER" pronounciation lesson. ha. 

He also had some concerns about the hospital's recent American guests. I'm being called upon to translate some cultural differences that are occuring. The way Chi.nese and Americans see personal interactions is vastly different - like two different species. I tried my best to be diplomatic, reasonable, and fair in my choice of words while deciphering the situation. Trying to explain that yes, calling people at 4pm and demanding they be at a formal dinner at 5pm would be off-putting to an American. Culture. What a funny, restricting thing. I'm thankful to have a bird's eye view of these situations and to be somewhat "culture-less." I really hope this translates to a job for me one day - one where I can use these skills of mediating between our two worlds. 

Somehow I only got this blurry, candid gem on my phone. He must have the posed pic on his phone. I think I look exactly like my little sister in the face in this pic and that it's a good representation of me and Michael's friendship. ha. Just chillin', not a care in the world. 


Then at the end of class my teeny-tiny boss showed up bouncing around and wearing sequins like she always is. She handed me a brown envelope and pranced out of the room apologizing that she didn't come to class because she has to, "take care of her father in law who is 80 years old." 

I wanted to tell her that she has not come to class in 2 years, so why would I expect her today? But instead I took the money with a "thank you" and nodded my head in understanding that, yes, her father in law needs her. 

I'm not on a contract with the hospital because technically it is illegal not good for me to work on a student visa. It works for them and me. I just get a brown envelope of cash every 4 or so weeks, whenever my boss remembers to show up and pay me.

There have been times when my boss forgot to pay me and I thought I would have to choose between cat food and people food. Luckily, I'm not in that situation anymore, but the brown envelope of red bills is still highly anticipated each month.

pay day! 

Now, the money goes mostly towards Chin.ese lessons. C'est la vie.

I find it amusing that my boss always writes, "thank you!" on the envelope of money. I am being thanked for going to a job I love.

I wish everyone could be so lucky.

walk slow. xoxo. 


Anonymous said...

You are like a superhero. That's probably why they are intimidated to get on the elevator with you. By the way, that platter is either huge or you are very tiny these days. Interesting comment about the American relations. Definitely a tight-rope walk between the two cultures. xoxo.


Miss Lynda and Mr. Al said...

Oh Jessica, you are being thanked for so much more than just going to do a "job". You do not realize what a gift you are to all who know you. And speaking of gifts... Happy (belated) Birthday sweetheart! Hope you had as much fun on your birthday as MuShu did on his. I am sure that it was a special day all the way around and nothing less than you deserve. Love you and keep you close in thoughts and hearts.