Saturday, September 08, 2007

And while I'm on the subject....

Maybe the mellowness I claimed for myself this afternoon was only skin-deep.

My latent irritation with Chinese arseholedom was probably already bubbling just below the surface, because I had spent most of yesterday making arrangements for a business trip next week to one of our partner schools in Zhejiang.

My Chinese colleague who does most of the liaison with them had been getting anxious and skittish about this event all week, but she couldn't quite express what was bothering her - she would only intimate vaguely that they had "high expectations" and "might not be happy with the arrangements". Well, frankly, if that is the case, I tend to blame my Chinese colleague very largely: it's her job to manage their expectations.

Anyway, after an exchange of e-mails and a telephone conversation with our contact there, everything seemed to be OK.

Then the guy phoned me at 9.30 last night, just as the gig I'd gone to was about to start. Hello. Are these working hours? I think not. What the fuck do you think you're doing?

I contained myself. I was nice. I was polite. I was receptive. I was tolerant.

He wasn't happy with the arrangements.

He didn't like the idea of my giving the standard promotional presentation for students and the staff training that we give to everyone else. He wanted something 'special', unique, individually tailored for him.

He wasn't happy with the standard (absurdly generous, economically unviable) 1.5 days we had scheduled with him. He wanted 2 days, 3 days, a whole week. Could I arrive earlier, stay later, change the running order completely....?

He wanted to make himself feel important. He wanted to park his bike across my itinerary for the week.

I told him NO. Politely but firmly, NO. I've sent you the programme for the visit. That's it. Take it or leave it.

I can't get there any earlier, because you're in the middle of fucking nowhere (only a handful of flights a day from Beijing, none at particularly convenient times; and then it's a 2-hour drive from the aiport on bad roads..... Christ, I should have just told him we'd do the whole bloody meeting on Skype!). I can't leave any later because I have another appointment somewhere else that evening. I am working: I am working somewhere else Monday, Thursday, and Friday. You've got me on Tuesday and Wednesday - you should be fucking grateful.

This is not going to be an easy trip. The likelihood of me decking the c*** (and thereby, I suppose, losing my job - ah well, c'est la vie) is pretty high.

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