Ups and Downs

Monday turned out much better than I thought it would. There are some serious American and Chinese differences in work culture. There is a lot of teamwork here, yes, but supervisors are also quick to assign blame on those below, and, during meetings, to single out someone for a serious dressing down. I can imagine what the Cultural Revolution must have been like, with some poor scapegoat sitting in a chair, wearing a dunce cap and surrounded by a gang of fanatics.

However, I was surprised and impressed by one supervisor today who averted catastrophe, and who showed more patience and long-range thinking than I expected. I had spoken truth to power and was about to turn up the volume even further. But she showed me how to look at the situation from a slightly different angle. She led me out of a disastrous situation, one in which my frustration had turned into anger, and I fear I provided some archons with choice energy over the weekend.

She raised me up. I did not originate the problem, but I did have to move beyond my own mental blame game after all. I mean, why criticize some Chinese for being quick to blame others if I also do it? I’m no longer young, so I should no longer be dumb. I like to think.

Then a lady friend had her father in the emergency room with a heart attack, and so I went to the largest hospital in Southwest China. Now, I think that this country really might have 1.3 billion people. The place was packed. Stretchers were escorted by uniformed guards wearing facemasks, with one hand on the wheeled stretcher, helping to roll it, and the other hand holding a bullhorn, ordering crowds out of the way.

No privacy whatsoever. If you were curious about a patient, you could just wander over to the bed, one of many in the room, and listen in on the doctors and nurses, and watch the treatment of naked and half naked patients. No one cared. I could have walked into a heart surgery room I think, unimpeded. Everybody’s business was everyone elses’ business. That’s what happens when a rice-growing village turns into a society with a billion people.

I’m guessing I was at a popular hospital, and by popular I mean for the general populace, of “the people.”

But hey, it seems to work. My lady friend paid the bill with a fistfull of 10 kwai notes, so I think the tab was less than 40 dollars.

It was a long and stressful day, but strangely satisfying.



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