Lekker leesvoer voor een lome zaterdagochtend (hier 30+ Celsius). De Amerikaan Benjamin Ross heeft het idee opgevat om één te worden met de (armere) Chinezen. Net als één van de miljoenen gelukszoekers van het Chinese platteland gaat hij als leerling in dienst bij een kapsalon. Let wel, een “gewone”, niet zo’n verkapt bordeel. Eerste maand is een proeftijd zonder betaling (maar wel met kost en inwoning, waar hij maar geen gebruik van maakt), om daarna misschien door te groeien van sloofje naar harenwasser, misschien later nog naar kapper en heel misschien verder naar kapsaloneigenaar. Lekker geschreven en het verhaal is nog lang niet af!
For us China is fun and relaxing. It’s a place we come to expand our horizons, to learn a culture, to spend our copious free time studying Tai Chi and Chinese cooking or picking up girls at the bar. But for Fuzhou’s working class, there is no such fun and relaxation, no time for hobbies and no money for Tsingtaos at the pub. Work is a way of life and a means for survival.
The other workers told me that in the morning there really isn’t much to do, so I could sit and relax. At first, this command seemed to reek of preferential treatment, but after two hours and only two customers later, I realized first hand what I already know about Chinese jobs. You do a lot of sitting on your ass.
It’s been two days on the job now and it already feels like months. I have worked 2 eleven hour days in a row, and because of personal circumstances which you probably do not want to read about in this blog, done it on 2 hours sleep (no I wasn’t drinking). Although the work itself is not so tiring, I have never been on the clock for such a long shift in my life, and it is mentally exhausting. I still can’t imagine my colleagues do this 27 days a month all year long.
Na een week:
As I mentioned in previous entries, I think the most difficult obstacle to combat during this process is going to boredom. I spend at least 75% of my time sitting on my ass, reading magazines, and cracking jokes with my co-workers. This may sound like an easy job, but in all honesty it would be much easier to pass the time if I were busy.
As the afternoon progressed, there were still very few customers, Chen Qing (also pseudonym), one of the barbers took me aside to do some massage training. The massage we give comes standard with haircuts and hair washes, and only lasts about 15 minutes. There are only 5 or 6 different motions, but they all must be done to perfection. After working on Chen Qing’s back for about 10 minutes, I felt like my hands were going to fall off.
One fiasco that I have seen on many occasions in China, but never been a part of is the work meeting. Uniformed employees are rowed up in plain view outside hotels and restaurants, as their boss yells instructions at them. Passersby can watch and awe at how rigidly strict the establishment is about the quality of its staff.