A Guilty 85 Kuai

Trip Start Aug 25, 2010
1
174
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Trip End Jun 29, 2011


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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

To refresh everyone's memory, kuai is the colloquial name for the Yuan. 

Yesterday, Dr. Sun, the nice man in the English department we call "Chinese Charles," texted me to ask if I could give a make-up pronunciation exam to a senior student today at 3pm.  I wasn't wild about the idea firstly because the student wasn't mine, and secondly because I'd have to walk 20 minutes to the A Building and 20 minutes back in the middle of my free time for the day just to spend five minutes giving an oral exam that any professor or office worker in the English department could give on his or her own.

All that said, Chinese Charles wasn't asking for much, plus I like him, so I told him I'd be happy to give the exam.  So today, I walked to the A Building for my 8am class, walked back to the A Building at about 2:40 to give the exam, then walked to the A Building yet again just after six for my 6:30 class.

On my second trip to the A Building, I waited around in the hallway for a few minutes (no sign of Chinese Charles) until Bessie found me and brought me to the office where the student was waiting.  I introduced myself, asked the student to sit, then started the exam.  

Like with my exams at the end of last semester, I asked the student to pronounce five words, pick words with different vowel sounds of out five series, then tell me about her winter holiday and her family.  After five minutes, the exam was over, the student earned an A, and I was free to leave.

The standard procedure for make-up exams is that the teacher who gives them earns something like 20 kuai per hour.  Since I had to give only one exam and worked for only five minutes, I wasn't expecting to receive pay.  However, as I stood up and donned my coat, Bessie handed me a 50 kuai note.  I asked how much change I needed to give her.  She looked dumbfounded and told me that Chinese Charles gave her the money to give to me.  I was speechless.  I'd earned 50 kuai (about $7.15) in five minutes.  In China, 50 kuai is a lot of money.

After our evening classes, Sam and I walked to the front gate to get dinner.  The young man who cooked our food first asked where we were from and then asked a question we'd never gotten before.  He wanted to know if we had any money from England or America.  I pulled a $5 bill out of my wallet and handed it to him. (I've had three $5 bills in my wallet since I arrived in China.)  He quickly stashed the bill away and then asked me how much $5 was in Chinese Yuan.  I told him about 35 kuai.  To my complete horror and embarrassment, he rushed over to the drawer in which the food stall keeps its earnings and pulled out 35 kuai.  He insisted that I take the money even after I refused three times.

So, today I made 85 kuai by giving a five minute exam and enjoying a plate of my favorite noodles in the world.  I feel hen guilty.

 

 




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