The past two weeks have been crazy. It’s kind of been like finals week, staying up late trying to get your grading done for the deadline.
Two weeks ago I was working late every night, trying to publish lessons a month into the future. It would have been a lot easier if we had had a reliable internet connection. Lucky for me, the team was great, everybody was on board. We worked until it fried our brains; by the time we got off work that Friday we were tired and sloppy. It ended up being a great night for E’s surprise birthday party at the Basque society house.
Then last week was nuts as well; we filmed a lip dub video and packed up the office. My cleaning lady, who was also the office cleaning lady, got in a trashy Shanghainese shouting match with C. We all sat on our hands and watched it happen for a good 45 minutes, because that’s what we do in China. At one point the trashy Shanghainese shouting match moved past my desk, and I was brought into it; C suggested to me that I fire her as well. It took me a few minutes to realize C might have been tagging me in, so I got up and tried to shut the cleaning lady up by standing between them and yelling back at her. She looked right through me. I tried to push her out of the office, but she wasn’t going anywhere, so it was either escalate or sit down. I chose to sit down, because I’m not going to fight the cleaning lady. I was told later that a) she wanted to get paid for days she didn’t work, and b) I was not expected to intervene.
By noon we had packed up Studio Fiesta and we were sitting at the new office, waiting for the truck to arrive. The new offices are much nicer than the old place, my desk overlooks Suzhou Creek, and I have to say it was a lovely, sunny day. The skies were almost fully blue, even!
Later that day, as we were unpacking and setting up the new office, one of the movers starts screaming at one of the accountants. And of course, because it’s China, we all go about our business, just ignore that man screaming his face off at that woman. In the US if someone is screaming at a woman, we would immediately drop what we were doing and step in, but we went a good half an hour letting him go on. At one point, C got so irritated, he turned to me and said, I’m going to throw him out the window. He turned to the dude and said, hey, shut up! Shut up! in English.
That was all I needed. I took off my jacket and we went over there. C got in the guy’s face and said, you shut up, I’m going to throw you out the window. I yelled at him from where I was standing a few tables over, you lower your voice ha! (the ha! is a pangasinan threat particle, like “you hear me?”) I don’t want to hear your voice! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m loud. I used to teach marching band. Also, my family invented psychotic screaming intimidation.
The man did a micro-nod and then cowardly turned his back to us, and continued to plead his case to the accountant in a lower voice.
Later, when the movers left, the accountants and the movers came to some sort of agreement; there was payment, and the movers were about to leave. C said something funny, and I laughed, which re-ignited the screamer, who thought I was laughing at him. He started screaming at me, but as he walked out of the office, angrily gesturing toward me as he waited for the elevator. I knew exactly what he was doing, he was trying to save face, look tough in front of his friends, because I had humiliated him. Later I saw him still shouting and shaking his fist at me in the plaza as he walked out to the street. What a joke. Later they told me he was angry because my company had sold our used office furniture to someone else, and not him, so he wanted us to give him money. For not selling him. Our garbage.
Saturday I bought a bike and rode all over the place.
Sunday morning I went riding around as well, and when I came back, the cleaning lady had done the dishes and was doing the laundry. I said, oh, you’re here. I washed the dust and pollen off my face, and she asked, are you sick? I said, not sick. And then I took out her pay for April and gave it to her. She said, do you still want me to continue to work here? And I said, not want. And I left.
Hung out with A and H for a few hours, came back home, and found that the cleaning lady had just stopped what she was doing and had left. Buh-bye.
Monday went to dinner after work with E; last night went to L’s new house. L cooked choriqueso and fajitas and we all sat on the balcony talking about the economy and the company.
In three days I’ll be back in Seattle.