First Day of Work
02 Feb 2004
Today I finally started my new job in Shanghai, after over a month of vacation. I’m pretty sure that until today I haven’t gotten up at a time of day that could be considered “early” since I’ve moved here. As a result, I saw a new side of Shanghai on my walk to work.
I hit the street at 8am. The city was bustling. What struck me first was the sheer quantity of hot, hot women on Nanjing Xi Road on their way to work. Yes, it’s conclusive: women with actual jobs are way sexier than those women of leisure you see around town at hours that could only be kept by someone without a respectable job. So it looks like I now get classy eye candy on my daily walk to work.
I realized also on my way to work that I can walk through Jing An Park as a shortcut. What a great shortcut! I saw lots of old people doing morning exercises. I saw old people doing dance routines to music. I saw old people doing tai chi. I saw old people practicing with swords. I saw more hot women. But mostly I just saw lots of old people. I like how active a role the Chinese elderly seem to take in trying to keep themselves fit. They don’t look any healthier or more flexible, but they do seem to live pretty long.
I arrived at work at 8:20am, ten minutes early. Just enough time for breakfast at the restaurant next door. I paid 5rmb for 5 jian jiao (fried dumplings). That’s 5 times what I used to pay outside the gate of ZUCC. They were good, though.
Then I started work. A lot of people have asked me what, exactly, my new job is, and I haven’t been extremely forthcoming with the information. I wasn’t trying to be coy; the truth of the matter was I didn’t know the exact details myself. I still don’t. But I like what I know so far.
The company is called Melody (双美 in Chinese). It’s a Taiwanese company which creates and markets English educational materials (textbooks, tapes, CDs, VCDs, etc.) for young children. My job is a sort of trainer/consultant. I help them with the development of the materials, providing a native speaker perspective. I also train Melody’s teachers, and will go on business trips to cities all over China to hold training seminars for the teachers of other schools which buy Melody’s products.
Today, since my immediate supervisor has still not returned from vacation, I was left pretty much to just start familiarizing myself with Melody’s texts and VCDs. Holy crap. They make good stuff, but when you’re watching English language song videos for 6-year-olds all morning long, it’s pretty brain-numbing.
My co-workers all seem pretty cool. They’re nearly all female. They talk to me almost exclusively in Chinese. So it’s a good working environment.
One thing I’m not used to is the “culture shock” of talking to the Taiwanese. They say things like, “I’m originally from Taiwan, but I’ve been living in China for years.” Excuse me?? From Taiwan, moved to China. That talk seems totally cool, though. All the mainlanders are used to it and think nothing of it.
So I put in a full day of work today, and now I have to do that again for the next four days. Wow, this is way different from teaching at ZUCC. This is actually approaching the real world.