The following is an English translation of
the core text of a Chinese post currently appeared on China's
online forum. The author, a man from poor rural area with
college education, tells his true story (as he so claims)
of how he struggles with his career and marriage in a big
I Didn't Want to Give UP
I Took up Challenge
I Gave Up
I Was Left On My Own
A Poor Man's Lonely Festival
Chinese New Year festival ended, and my brother
returned from the village, bringing back some preserved hams.
By then I just realised I had not tasted meat in many days.
I did not inform my brother that I was going
to look for a job in a construction field. No need for that.
I made a phone call to my wife, telling her my situation
would improve and plead her to hold out, and that if she
found it was too hard to do so, she could ask for a divorce.
One day I went to a remote construction field,
a short and fat man shouted at me, demanding to know what
my business was there. When I told him I was looking for
a job, he scanned me from the top to the toe with deep suspicion.
"You don't look like a peasant labourer," declared
I told him I was not a peasant labourer previously,
but now I decided to be one since I could not find any other
He was not convinced, and went to the door
to look around - I knew he hoped to find his staff. Pity,
he found no one - most peasant workers were yet to return
from their village. "Come with me," he then said
to me, and led me to warehouse. "Can you move these
stuff to another building?" he asked, pointing at a
pile of cardboard boxes.
I immediately got on with the job, but almost
sprained my back when I tried to lift a box. I didn't realise
cardboard box could be that heavy.
"There are all metal stuff inside," he
Through a gap in the box, I caught glimpse
of set screws, and each box could weight 40 kg. All though
the distance between the two buildings was just a hundred
metres, I had to take several breaks in every trip.
And I got ten yuans after the job was done.
"Normally I would only pay 5 bucks for
this job if it was done by an ordinary labourer," said
I returned five yuans to him. I only wished
to be an ordinary labourer - to receive more than what one
deserves may result in serious consequences. And again, I
let him know that I wouldn't mind to do any kind of job that
might be available.
In the course of the conversation I learned
he was called Old C, a relative of a major subcontractor
of the project, and responsible for purchasing building materials.
"No subcontractor would ever hire you,
trust me," he stated, plainly. "You don't look
tough enough to handle this kind of work."
Previously I thought anybody could be a construction
worker. Not so, apparently, which made me so despondent.
Just at the time I felt I had run out of options, I heard
him ask me, "Do you like to help installing bridge structures?"
Of course I did. Overjoyed, I was going to
give him a cigarette to express my gratitude, but when I
noticed the brand of the cigarette he was smoking, I gave
up my attempt.
Then he offered me a cigarette. I told him
I did not smoke.
I've just been fired by a big company without
any reason given, nor did they offer me redundancy payment.
They didn't even bother to give me a 30-day notice. I was
totally disoriented when receiving the news. Later when
I asked, I was told that it is because I was not coping
my job. You see that, they are not only taking my job away
but also trying to take away my self-confidence. If I was
that bad why they allowed me to go through the probation
period? Now after nearly half a year, they suddenly discovered
I was not fit for the job. Obviously they just need someone
to be the scapegoat of the bad sales performance.
Now I've lost my job for almost a week, and
I feel terrible. I keep turning things around in my mind,
and sometimes I think I might should return to home village.
But on the other hand, I don't want to bow to my fate.
Maybe it is also because, just like what you said, it is
in fact no longer a valid option for me.
Thanks for your story, I'll keep following
up, and I believe we'll all get through this cold winter.
Spring shall eventually return.
I looked forward to work on bridge projects,
despite I knew it should not be my lifetime profession.
Like most construction sites in China, people
in this company do not return to work until lunar January
16, the next day of the traditional Lantern
festival. Old C arranged me to be in a team with Old
Liu and Little Zhang. Initially the two refused to take me
in, saying I did not look tough enough to cope the manual
work, until I promised them that they were free to leave
the toughest tasks for me to handle.
And they did. I was told to operate electronic
hammer to drill holes on walls. During the entire operation,
I had to hold this bulky and heavy machine over my head,
while the debris produced during drilling kept hurting my
eyes. It was just like hell, but I knew I had to hold on.
I drilled nearly a hundred holes on the first
day, and after work, I felt my arms no longer belonged to
me, and did not return to my brother's renting room but shard
a rough shed with my teammates.
For the first time in years, I had a truly
sweet sleep at night.
When you have nothing to lose, you're free.
(Full Chinese text can be viewed at
Achievements in 2008