A CON

A CON

 

Zhiqiang is doing the last year of high school. Next June he will sit the Chinese National Matriculation Test. If everything runs its normal course, he will end up in a uni next autumn. I have been his English teacher since the very start of his high school experience. Over the terms, he has grown from an innocent outspoken boy into a mature tactful lad. His parents are not in their town. Like most Chinese peasants, they have been working in other parts of China for a better living. Without his parents around, Zhiqiang is independent and capable, compared with those peers of his inundated with parental care and love. Living in the dorm, he looks after himself quite well.

 

His English journal is one of the best in his class although he still blunders in grammar and vocabulary occasionally. I have read a lot about his life, his friends and his family. I would have shared with my readers some of the stories had it not been for the consideration of his privacy. This week, he told me about his extraordinary adventure on the weekend, which I think should be of great significance to my other students. In this blog entry I will relate the story as follows.

 

Last Saturday evening after an exam, Zhiqiang was fed up with schoolwork. Thirsty for some diversion, he invited his pal, Mr Yang Jiangsong, to go on a shopping trip with him. They walked out of school and headed downtown.

In the pedestrian precinct at Wuyan, where shops cluster together, he was stopped by a man on the street. The chap said that their business had just opened so they had something free to offer to their first customers. Zhiqiang would not believe him. However, the chap persisted, stressing that it would cost nothing really. Though Zhiqiang was aware that there is nothing free under the sun, curiosity gained an upper hand. He decided to step into the shop and have a look around. So he and his pal walked in, following the man. Still suspicious of the offer, Zhiqiang quietly stuffed his banknotes up his sleeve on the way.

Upon entering the premises, the two boys were separated, and each was ushered by a lady into a different room. In the room, the lady asked Zhiqiang to lie down on a couch. Then she explained that Zhiqiang’s pimples should be cared for and that their product would do the job well. Zhiqiang asked the lady if it was free, but the lady did not answer. Then Zhiqiang made it clear that he had no money on him and that he would not mind it if the product and service were free of charge.

Next the lady applied some cream to his face and did some massage. After some time, the face was cleaned and the service was over. Zhiqiang rose from the couch and thanked the lady. He was about to leave when the lady handed him a bill for 200 yuan for the service. Zhiqiang was incredulous. His first thought was to rush off. However, thinking of his pal Mr Yang, who was still being served in another room, he gave up the thought and put up a row with two men who demanded the payment at the reception.

After a while, Mr Yang came out of his room and faced the same extortion. Having realised that he and his pal had been set up by the gang, Zhiqiang came to see how black their hearts were. They should have targeted poor students like them. After fierce exchanges of a verbal war, Zhiqiang and his pal were released, sixty yuan lost for their treatment.

Once out of the shop, Zhiqiang dialled 12315, which is the hotline number by which Chinese customers can complain to the Bureau of Industry and Business Administration about unfair business practices, and 110, which is the crime reporting number from Chinese police. Neither responded, much to their chagrin.

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