Nothing gets my blood boiling like an intrusive oh-so-Chinese email. See, for example, the one below. It was sent from the company that acts as the liaison between us, the expats, and them, the owners of our village and the brains behind the nuclear power plant that brought us all here.
Hi, allHere is a notice that the property management department will arrange workmen to stick the fixed assets label for A block from next Monday.And we will let you know in advance when they come to your apartment.
Any problem please let me know.Best regards,[Company rep who shall remain nameless]
Let me translate this for you. We were being told — those of us who live in the village’s A block — that workers employed by the village owners would enter our apartments to stick labels on each and every item that was provided to us when we moved in.
As if we need another reminder that we will never be trusted so long as we live here. This is a country that has a serious aversion to cultivating trust with strangers. For most Chinese, this means any person outside the family unit.
The workers already entered our apartments last fall to take an inventory of all the things we were “given” upon arrival. I bitched about that intrusion in my “Pardon the Rant” post.
This time around, I envisioned workers haphazardly sticking white mail labels covered in Sharpie-scrawled Chinese characters on everything. Such DIY efforts would have been on par with the DIY repairs we’ve grown accustomed to. Got a leaky faucet? The workers just borrow another from an empty apartment. No need to then wonder what they do with your broken one. Their approach to labels was instead much more sophisticated. We got a computerized one that had a corresponding QR code for each “asset.” A term I and any other expat would use very loosely for the apartment items lent to us.
There was one for each of the four kitchen chairs. One for the kitchen table. One for the fridge, the oven, and another for the hot plate. Even one for the vent above the hot plate and the countertop it sat upon. There was one for each A/C unit (we have four). One for each bed (we have two) and bedside table (three in total). One for the TV, the couch, the coffee table, the office desk and chair, the shelving units, and the washing machine.
One of our liaisons labeling a kitchen chair
Shit, I’m surprised there wasn’t one for the toilet. Or the shower head. Or the bathroom sink. Or each and every floral decaled square tile that is cracked and about to fall off our dingy shower walls.
Obviously, it’s only a matter of time before this tile falls off.
Thank god there were none for the trim. We have everything they originally gave us, but not the mold-infested sections of trim we threw out two years ago. We defied the owners’ workers then when they refused to remove it from our apartment. We did it ourselves and lived with a mostly trimless hallway and spare bedroom up until last month. The gaps full of pesky insects, dust, and crumbly concrete debris between the walls and tile floor never bothered us. But with a baby on the way, we couldn’t stand it any longer and decided mismatched trim was better than none at all.
The shiny new maroon stuff we recently installed is on the left. The once maroon but now faded to dull brown is the original trim on the right.
The workers will be back sometime soon to scan each and every label that was placed in a very specific and designated spot on each and every asset. You’d think they would understand the concept of killing two birds with one stone. After all, there is the Chinese equivalent: 一石二鸟. But this would deprive them of the chance to once again exercise their petty authority over us.