The new factory was in operation. After former Director Zhang went back, the head office sent a younger Director Gao. He came with a 40-50-year-old finance manager and a 30-year-old secretary from the head office. The beautiful secretary had red hair, looking like a Russian. Although I forgot her name, only remembering a Ling character, actually I liked her very much. Let’s just call her L.
When Director Gao took office, he called me into his office and asked me to provide him as soon as possible with a list of the managers of the ironing workshop of a branch factory. Back to my office, I thought while sorting out that since the director wanted the information from a branch workshop, I might as well have sorted out all the information for him. Therefore, I sorted out all the number and names of different positions in each branch factory and workshop and printed them. The next day, I took this thick stack of paper to Director Gao. I could tell from his smile that he was very satisfied. I felt very happy because although there was no praise, I did something to satisfy my supervisor.
Soon he appointed me deputy director of the factory office. Once, the head factory called each branch factory director to have a meeting together. I presided over the meeting, which was attended by senior factory managers from places like Shenzhen who had run companies. I was a little worried before the meeting, but when it started, I spoke calmly and went over what I had confirmed. From the directors’ eyes and expressions, I saw admiration, so I had a little joy in my heart again.
Every time a new employee is recruited in a branch factory, he will be accommodated. I went to visit every dormitory with the manager of the administration department, LHM, who was brought by the factory director from the head office. We count, check and distribute things together. Although he was a little shy and reserved, and did not like to talk, he worked very hard and carefully. We cooperated well and never had any problems. Later we became good friends, until now.
It was getting colder and colder, so I always wanted to get some sunshine at noon. The food in the factory canteen tasted delicious to me. Every time, ZAJ and I stood at the factory gate with food in our hands, chatting and basking in the sun. On one occasion, when Director Gao happened to pass by, he looked at me and said, “You can’t be so casual as to make it a school. It’s not proper to eat at the factory gate.” So I never ate at the factory gate again.
The factory renovated many rooms for managers in an old factory building nearby. I had one too, so sometimes I lived in the factory. Then the directors of the branch factories or the new young girls from the finance and business departments would come to chat with me in the evening. The most memorable moment was when I chatted with L, the Secretary of our Factory Director Gao. I listened to her understanding of life and her views on many things. I felt that she was very romantic and tasteful. At that time, when I just graduated from college, I felt that she was a woman I admired very much.
As time went on, the weather became colder. On the other hand, production was getting busier. But local workers were not enough to meet the needs of factories. So one day, Director Gao told me that he was going to take me to Shuyang, Jiangsu Province to recruit workers. He had already contacted the local labor bureau, and we just needed to get there.
This visit to Jiangsu impressed me deeply. The four of us – Mr. Gao, his secretary L, I, as well as Mr. Gao’s driver, a tall man from Northeast China – set off in his Audi car.
I had never been in a car, so soon became carsick. My stomach was turning over and then I started to vomit. When I got out of the car at my hotel in Shanghai, I found that I had thrown up the backseat door in a mess. The driver, though tall and powerful, was gentle. He smiled and let me in, while he fetched water and scrubbed the door with a cloth. I felt a little embarrassed but checked in with Director Gao and L.
I’ll never forget that evening when Director Gao’s friend invited us to a fancy restaurant. Because it was the first time I saw drunken shrimp, pickled with chili peppers and vinegar, jumping and struggling in a transparent jar with a lid, I was very worried. They all said it was delicious, but I never picked it up. Factory Director Gao and his friend advised me to eat, but I said I dare not. They still smiled and encouraged me, so I decided to try for fear of losing face. I picked up a shrimp with my chopsticks. Suddenly the shrimp moved. I screamed and stood up, throwing the chopsticks away. Then the story ended. In the end, I didn’t eat drunken shrimp, and I still haven’t.
I still remember that I wore a dark-pink cowboy suit that day with the Japanese student’s haircut – blunt bangs and short hair. It looked silly and naive.
When we arrived in Shuyang, Jiangsu, officials of the local labor bureau invited us to dinner. In the beginning, they all thought that Director Gao had brought two foreigners with him. Because Secretary L was thin, tall, with snow-white skin, deep eyes, high nose, and red hair, just like a Russian. Of course, as soon as we lift our voice, they would know that we are the true descendants of dragons.
That night, we decided the way and time of recruitment. Because it took several days from registration, examination to admission and Director Gao was anxious about many things in the factory, he asked me if I could finish the recruitment task alone. I said yes. So the three of them went first.
After the local government put up the recruitment poster, many people came to sign up. I waited at the appointed place for anyone who wanted to fill in the form. What impressed me most was a beautiful girl with disabilities in her legs who came with a group of girls to consult me about the factory. I was shocked. For one thing, I admired the courage of the beautiful girl with a limp, for another, I wondered if she could use the sewing machine.
Most of the applicants were girls. I told them the time and place of the sewing test.
I don’t remember how I ate or where I slept in those days, but I do remember the sewing test. Shuyang Labor Bureau found a place to put many sewing machines. I gave each of the two pieces of cloth and asked them to make circular ellipses according to the shape of the soles. Seriously, I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine myself, but I could decide who did well or badly.
I paid special attention to the beautiful disabled girl. And I found that she was very skillful with her sewing machine and the lines were very clear and beautiful. I asked her if she could take care of herself if she went out on her own. She smiled confidently and said no problem. This time I remembered her name, PRL. We are still in touch.
The recruitment was completed and I enrolled more than 100 people. After that, I called Director Gao to report the admission and confirm the return time. Then, I asked the Shuyang Labor Bureau to assist in contacting three buses, and we set off from Shuyang, Jiangsu.
When I arrived at the factory gate with three buses, the factory director, who had always been scrupulous, came out to greet us with a big smile. Because this time he had no idea that I would recruit so many workers back.
LHM and I arranged their accommodation immediately to make them feel at ease.
After they arrived, this group of people worked very hard and earnestly, and soon became skilled workers in the workshop. Moreover, they were very united. Unexpectedly, PRL from Jiangsu Shuyang was elected as the group leader. So as long as one’s heart is strong enough, nothing can bring her down. PRL and these people depended on and trusted me. They talked to me whenever they were free, and I had a special feeling for them too. Because thousands of miles away, they could follow me, a girl who is not familiar with the world, to work in Zhejiang represented how much trust.
But it was these people who soon caused a great disturbance in the factory. If you want to know what happened afterward, read the next chapter.