恭喜发财, gōng xǐ fā cái, wishing you a prosperous new year!
More articles and weird stuff:
- Toxic Linfen – regardless of Climategate, there is still room for commonsense pollution controls in developing nations
- Think You Know China? Eight Things Foreigners Get Wrong
- Interesting talk on Vested Outsourcing – not sure if I care for the new buzz word, but worth a listen
- Fox Premiers Its First Chinese Film
Day 31 – I awoke early and found that our apartment complex had been decorated with live flowers and orange trees for the Lunar New Year.
We had a productive morning at the Assembly Center, working on streamlining and improving our process documentation. I have a manufacturing background and enjoy working on such kaizen initiatives. Where I wear out is the day-to-day scheduling and personnel management. I can do it, but it quickly becomes tedious, especially HR (which is admittedly less of a problem than in the USA). For the next year we will have so many opportunities to make improvements, I don’t see myself getting bored anytime soon. It also helps we have so many new assembly-inspection-packaging projects rolling in, each of which needs process engineering to get it started. 2009 was actually a strong growth year for PassageMaker, with 19 new assembly projects launched. Selecting tools, writing work instructions, designing jigs and fixtures, laying out the line and setting the Drum-Buffer-Rope targets is the fun stuff. I really have an awesome job.
The managers and I head to the cafeteria for lunch, which is notable for a couple reasons. First, they order Coca-Cola. Now in the USA I might go six months without drinking a soda. I don’t particularly care for them and I have alternatives I prefer in the States, such as iced tea (unsweetened with lemon, if you please). Not so in China, where I know that sodas are safe to drink, and no one has iced tea without a pound of sugar in it (and then usually only in rare SE Asian restaurants). So I drink sodas pretty regularly in China, but I am the one who orders them, not the Chinese. More important to this anecdote is why my co-workers ordered the Coke.
The cafeteria was out of tea.
Being out of tea in China is like being out of wine in France or out of whiskey in Lynchburg, TN (Pop. 361). It doesn’t happen. It’s a sign of the apocalypse or something. I felt like walking outside to see if the sun was going nova.
They didn’t even have any 开水, kāi shuǐ, boiling hot water, which is also commonly drunk, the concept of sanitary cold (bottled) water being a recent innovation. This was truly bizarre. So we drank Coke from tea cups.
Lunch was also memorable for four dishes, one I can’t wait to try in the USA.
At around 4 PM, things start to wind down and everyone migrates about 10 minutes away to the banquet hall, because tonight is the joint PassageMaker, SafePassage and China Quality Focus annual Chinese New Year party! These companies have grown rapidly over the last few years, and we had about 160 people in attendance. I tried to capture the event, but my camera did a relatively poor job. Apologies in advance.
Later things got a little crazy, with dancing, card playing, and for some bizarre reason, arm wrestling. I was reminded of the Festivus Feats of Strength.
All in all, it was a wonderful evening. Our guests were impressed by the camaraderie and team spirit and by shear amount of fun everyone was having. Having seen the USA go through the politically correct wringer in the last 15 years, during which all forms of corporate sanctioned fun were done away with and replaced by silly and useless “team building” exercises, aka “manufactured fun”, it is nice to be someplace where “corporate bonding” means cutting loose and eating and drinking and dancing and, you know, having fun. I left the automotive industry because the lawyers and the accountants and the buyers had drained every ounce of enjoyment and excitement out of it until it became a soul-draining slog. Life is to be lived and thank God the Chinese understand that.
I recently re-connected with an old friend from B-school living in Switzerland and he is much better networked with our class than I am. He tells me nearly all of our classmates have taken dull domestic jobs. What was the point of getting a degree in international business, he quite rightly asked? I know I did it to get out and see the world, to live a life less ordinary.
Some reading this will think our company frivolous. If you get that impression, I’m sorry you missed the point. PassageMaker, China Quality Focus and SafePassage all provide professional, affordable and reliable services in a timely fashion. Our Endorsed Service Providers do the same. A big part of the reason we are able to do our job so well is we still have the joie de vivre that keeps us excited about our work of helping our clients succeed. So have a drink and Happy Chinese New Year!