After a great night out in Sanlitun, we return to our miserable flat. It’s now that we discover for the first time that the loos won’t flush – and that we have no hot water. We grumble and head off to bed. In the morning we awake and of course nothing has magically changed overnight so we head into the office somewhat stinkier than we’d like to be.
We start in Subway and have what purports to be a bacon buttie for breakfast but of course this is China and the bacon is more like angry fatty ham instead.
Back in the office it’s time for round two, and ding-ding they’re off – my chum is already having a complete go about the state of the apartment, they take my key and promise to have everything fixed by the time we go back this evening.
Today we won’t be able to get into the board room until after lunch as the GM is interviewing yet another member of staff. We take one look at the measly desks and decide to go and “work” from a coffee shop instead. By now we’ve pretty much decided we won’t be taking a job with these clowns – so our morning task is to locate espresso and savor it. I half-heartedly complete the plan for the car show – for which later I will receive inane praise along the lines of; “Given your lack of experience in the car trade – how did you know that during a week long show, where millions of people will place their grubby paws on the body work, that the cars would need cleaning? Good work!”
When we return to the office the GM is still interviewing the poor sap (who has come for an admin post that doesn’t need filling) and all I can assume is that he’s making sure that the guy can grovel properly after his pasting from the previous day.
In the afternoon we all get together for a report of my partner’s trip of the day before, a quick summary is; “You’ve got to be joking – people expect multi-million RMB vehicles to be looked after -not parked in a 2,000 RMB a month building site rental slot.”
Then it’s on to the sales forecast – my job – I present a simple Excel extrapolation based on the figures supplied by Germany, and our Chinese colleagues fall over themselves with excitement. You would think this was rocket science rather than copying some numbers out of the license agreement. After a big round of applause for me, it’s time for us all to face the occasion I’ve been dreading since we got there – the obligatory Chinese communal dinner.
So off we head to a restaurant that everyone claims used to be frequented by Chairman Mao but which is clearly in a building that is less than five years old. Despite this (and my fears) the food is pretty good and what is supposed to be the “great leader’s favorite soup” is absolutely excellent, it is the one and only time in China that I’ve really enjoyed a chicken broth. Sadly there’s no Tsing Tao and we have to make do with a too sweet local brew that I’ve already forgotten the name of.
It’s not really done to talk about business over dinner here (thank goodness) so instead we squeeze out a few pleasantries, while everyone gangs up on me and keeps repeating; “You really must learn to speak Chinese.” I’m half tempted to point out that based on the evidence before me – everyone in the room who can speak Chinese can’t manage their way out of a paper bag, and I’m worried that it might be the language that damaged their brains. But I don’t – because even I’m not that rude, particularly when I haven’t been given a plane ticket to get home yet.
The GM arrives late and makes a big show of squeezing himself between me and the investor. Between bouts of bottom kissing for the boss, he tries to convince me that he’s not as crap as he clearly is. This is an impossible task and I smile politely whilst consigning everything he says straight to the circular file in my head.
After a couple of hours everyone’s making their excuses to go home, and my friend and I can finally get back to the serious business of getting drunk in Sanlitun. More tomorrow…