Wednesday, October 28, 2009

“I need a wife, can you cook?”

7:30 AM- alarm goes off. Urgh Sunday. Get up brush, brush teeth, fix hair, put on make up, look out window. It’s sunny, great. Put on clothes, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwich, walk to work.

8:30 AM- teach classes.

10:20 AM- What? It can’t be that time already!
“Canada, let’s go,” Haydn’s beautifully brilliant English accent echoes. Urgh the park. “Yah I’m coming.” I steal 5 more minutes of my time to sit in front of the fan taking in as much cool air as I can.

10:30 AM- walk to park with Haydn. There are people everywhere, and they are all staring. I am too distracted by the beautiful gardens of flowers and trees to care. There are different colours everywhere I look and it is amazing. I walk over to “our spot” and take a seat under this tree where 6 other foreigners are waiting to be stared at like zoo animals. Damn it’s hot. I am sweating already. Beads of sweat are dripping down from the top of my neck to the bottom of my back. Eww, I feel like I am in a sauna.

10:40 AM- Oh no! He’ll be here any minute! As I try to take cover under the tree where I think people wont see me I smell his tobacco chew. Damn. “Good morning Chelsea”
“Good morning Tony.” Standing before me is this middle aged Chinese man, 5’4”, bulky glasses, tobacco chew in his lower lip, his pants are hiked up to his belly button, he is holding a cloth in one hand for dabbing his sweaty forehead and a bottle in the other to spit his tobacco in. Gross. Every Sunday Tony comes to the park to talk to me; this is where I and the other foreigners are forced to go every Sunday for an hour to help people in the park improve their English. We usually sit and take pictures with people because a lot of the people don’t speak English. They stare and they point and take pictures. But of coarse I get stuck with the only guy who speaks English and is extremely creepy.

As Tony comes over to sit next to me he pulls out a pack of cigarettes and lights one. Here we go, really is both products of tobacco necessary?
“You know, Chelsea, I am a doctor”
“Yes Tony I remember” Shouldn’t you know that tobacco kills then!
“Well I am old, and I have no one to take care of me,” Oh no… “I need a wife, can you cook?” Oh dear God, is this man for real?
“Actually, I am a terrible cook; I would make a horrible wife.” I reply back very quickly.
“Well can you clean?”
“Nope, lack that ability too.” Clearly I am lying…someone save me!
“Well maybe we should go out for lunch this week, are you busy?” This would be the 4th time I have denied his lunch date.

10:50 AM- “Uh…” As I consider what excuses I haven’t used yet this young woman approaches me and pulls out a piece of paper. She looks older; her hair is very short and has some grey bits in it. She is wearing a very colourful shirt and black pants. Smiling, she sits next to me and says, “Hello, I am Mina”
“Hello Mina.” She unfolds the piece of paper and begins to read questions that she has written down: “Nice weather today yes? You look good; did you just get back from vacation? Are you in love?” Whoa, that one’s kind of random. Suddenly I remember Tony; I look up and see him no where in sight. A smile spreads across my face, this lady is my savior. As I continue to talk to this amazing woman she fills me in with details about her life in broken English, “I have two children, one girl and one boy. I work 6 days a week in a factory where I sew clothes. I wake up at 6 am to get breakfast ready, send my children to school and then go to work. At lunch I come home and feed my family then head back to work until 7 pm. I make supper when I get home and clean until midnight. My husband is a drunk, he says that me learning English is pointless because I am too old. I am only 46; will you help me better my English?” Um, yes!
“Of coarse I would love to help.” You saved me from the creepy man. Time flies as we talk more and more giving information back and forth about our lives.

11:35 AM- Oh wow I get to leave. “I am so sorry Mina I have to go but I will meet you next week.”

I agree to meet Mina every following Sunday and some days during the week when she is not busy. I started teaching an adult class at night and offered her to come along. She came every class she could. I would buy her English books to help her practice her reading but her husband would throw them away. By the end of my contract her English was amazing. I appreciate my life so much more after meeting Mina, not only did she show me how privileged my life was but she saved me from the man who wanted to make me his wife. He never came to the park again after that and I have Mina to thank for it.


  1. Chelsea, this is my favourite blog post you've done so far. You worked on the active verbs and it's written in present tense! I really like that you wrote the time, so it's almost like a diary entry. I also liked the internal thoughts, because they were funny and I was literally laughing out loud for parts. Also, without having to write it out to tell the reader, you showed us that you had to work on Sundays. That was surprising, and I liked the way you told it because you didn't just say "We worked on Sundays in China," but instead found an interesting way to show it. Other descritive parts, such as Haydn calling you "Canada" or the hot weather are also good parts you've added in to make me feel what it would actually be like to spend a summer in China, working with people who aren't Chinese and teaching people who have pre-planned questions like "are you in love?"
    This was great!

  2. I liked how you depict two different but equally interesting characters, first the creepy old man, and then the Mina. I like the organization with the time as well as the inclusion of your internal thoughts, I thought that this gave an interesting dimension to your story because we got to read what you were thinking and not just what you were saying.

  3. Hello Chelsea!

    This is also my favorite post so far; you have really improved since your first one. Here you create two extremely interesting and fully fleshed out characters. There are also both funny and touching moments. My two favorite were when Tony was smoking and chewing tobacco at the same time and when Mina asked you if you were in love as one of her first questions to you. Great stuff! Finally, I liked your characterization of foreigners being like zoo animals, it present s a vivid image for the reader.

    I only noticed one or two spelling mistakes, but other than that, this was really good post!

  4. Hey Chelsea,

    Sometimes when I read blog posts I wonder "what's the greater message," but with yours it was so obvious. You definitely improved in showing rather than telling.

    I loved the way you let the wife tell her own story. I think overall that gives her power within the story that she may not have in real life. I would have liked to have heard more about your reaction to that, as it's such a powerful story.