A GET-TOGETHER


A GET-TOGETHER

 

Shengliver’s Note: All the teens that are featured in the entry are now in uni. The incident happened in their last term of high school. Chinese high school students, generally speaking, spend most of their waking hours (and their sleeping hours as well if they attend a boarding school) within the campus walls. Can they get a taste of real China? The teens in this entry learned a lesson about human nature in a way their knowledgeable teachers in the classroom could never have imagined.

 

It was the weekend. Exactly speaking, it was Saturday evening. The boys and girls in the high school where I work were set free, just for one evening. They had worked during the day on Saturday, and they would have to be in the classroom by 7.50 on Sunday morning. They were to work all through Sunday.

 

Seven dorm mates decided not to swot in the classroom for the evening. Instead they planned to go and have a meal at a restaurant on Jiangsu Road. Meals in the canteen bored them, and they would give themselves a treat this evening, something different but not very expensive. Besides, it would be less than 70 days before their high school experience came to an end in June.

 

The seven mates, Leng Yufan, Yang Sen, Jiang Xianbo, Chen Chao, Yi Shiqian, Li Jinshan, and Li Chao, left the campus and strolled along Jiangsu Road. They passed three restaurants before a nice little eatery came into view. It was not big, as little as their dorm. Upon entering the place, they decided that it was a right venue for them students. Fancy restaurants are costly, they knew.

 

Having seated themselves at a table, the boys ordered seven dishes. Li Chao left the restaurant and fetched two big bottles of orange juice from a shop nearby.

 

When the dishes were served on the table, Leng Yufan asked if anyone wanted some beer or spirits. All of the mates said that the juice would do.

 

It was a wonderful meal for the hungry teens. They toasted each other with the juice. The restaurant owner was generous enough to give them an extra dish for free.

 

The boys chatted over the meal. They talked about their dreams, politics, society, anything and everything under the sun. With the imminent parting after graduation upon their mind, they enjoyed each other’s company all the more.

 

The boys did not notice that next to their table was a man, smartly dressed in a suit and tie, and alone. He was eating himself and drinking some beer. While the teenagers were eating and conversing, the man listened in and watched.

 

When all the dishes were gone, it was time to pay. The bill turned out to be RMB yuan 150 something, way over their budget. But luckily Li Chao and Yang Sen had more than enough on them for the meal.

 

While they were discussing the bill, the man at the next table said, “Waiter, charge the boys half the amount please. I will foot the rest.”

 

The teens were amazed. They could not believe that in this material society there are still gentlemen like this one. They tried to decline, but the man was adamant.

 

He explained, “I have been watching you all the time. You boys are well behaved. China is proud of you. I have a son your age. If he were here this evening, he might have drunk beer. So I would like to express my appreciation to all of you by covering half the expense.”

 

Although the boys tried hard to persuade the man out of it, he paid half the sum for their meal. Leng Yufan asked for his name and phone number. The man would not tell him.

 

“I did not help you boys because I want you to thank me. If you please, be a good man when you are a grown-up. I come from Anhui. I am on my business trip here in your town,” said the man.

 

When they returned to the dorm later that evening, the Chinese teenagers could not wait to share their experience at the restaurant with their schoolmates. It is a lesson that they could never have learned, locked up in their classroom, poring over their books or exam papers on a Saturday evening.

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