Everyone knows my occupation, and every client knows why I live in Guangzhou and what I do here. That’s right, I offer business services in China that include business interpretation at exhibitions, factories, interpretation of correspondence with factories, finding manufacturers in China as well as all the services arising from the cooperation: support of deals, pre-shipment checks of goods, the organization of delivery from China and customs clearance.
The clients who come to Guangzhou want to see the sights of the city if they have time. They want to climb the Canton Tower, take some impressive pictures, visit a temple and learn the culture of China briefly, walk in parks or visit museums, have a tea ceremony and buy some green tea as they go along. Do I often take clients to the sights? No, few people have time for such stuff. Do I know the history of China as a history teacher knows it? No, it is not my job. Can I tell you about Buddhism? Only what my Chinese friends told me or what I read at university in Chinese. Do I know the exact date of the foundation of Guangzhou, the time of the reign of a dynasty, or the beginning of a war and its outcome? Perhaps I should look in history books sometimes, but I don’t use the information in my job so I will forget it successfully.
If you are going to Guangzhou for the purpose of tourism, I advise you to find a professional tour guide who will show you things and enthusiastically tell you a story or come up with it. Historical nuances, Buddhism, stone inscriptions, Confucius – this really isn’t my strong suit, I honestly admit it. I can help you to be impressed, but I can’t teach you a lesson in history and culture. Some time ago a client came to me with a request to just show him the city of Guangzhou (please note: to just show) and perhaps devote a day to furniture in the Chinese style. That would be for information for the future. When my regular clients tear up the mail and phone, just wandering around Guangzhou with anyone is a waste of my time, no matter what money I am offered. I offered the services of my assistant whose language is good enough for a trip around the city. The client agreed. After spending an hour with the interpreter, the disgruntled client called me and reproached me for the interpreter’s weakness. Well, the interpreter did not know where the Orchid Garden in Guangzhou was (to be honest, I do not know it either, and I have never been there). After another hour, he called to say that the interpreter did not know where the antique market was and where to buy Hugo Boss socks. He said that he was the president of a large Russian company, but he was not given due attention. It was only then that I realized that he did not need an interpreter (the assistant copes with the tasks of the interpreter quite well), but a person who knows everything about the city. The client didn’t give me time to “call a friend.” At the same time I realized that Hugo Boss socks were needed for the brand package. You could show off around the city with it because no one knows that it had just socks.
In response, I offered to refuse the interpreter and not to pay for the working day as I had two calls, and that was enough for me. I would pay for the interpreter’s day myself. But I wasn’t given a chance to say something else as the speech of the high-ranking person was neither respectful nor patient. As last, the client decided to take the “performance” to the end and pay the interpreter’s working day in full. It was unclear to me why he did it. Apparently, the elephant wanted to trample the bug. At the end of the day, he asked the interpreter to take him downtown to the shopping centers. Anyone who has been to Guangzhou or who can open a map of the city knows the major shopping centers are located in the city center in the Tianhe area and are called Teemall, Grandview Mall, Grandbuy, and Taikoohui. When they were in the center of the city five steps from all the shopping centers, the client called me and said that it was not the city center, and that there were no shopping centers, and there was only McDonald’s. He cursed me, without giving a second to answer. He said that he had never been provided such a service. I believe that he saw the shopping centers as soon as he crossed the road and found the right socks there, and got his package. Probably he needed a red carpet. That was the first time I could not restrain myself talking with a client. I felt that unjust and unequal attitude towards myself and my assistant—as if the president only wanted to throw eggs at a young actor. The latter wanted to do everything to make the audience satisfied, but it was still dissatisfied. I wanted to share this story only because I want to believe that it was the performance, that such people are only in the movies. The assistant came back in tears. Whether you are a president of a large company or a small trader, please respect others. And if you need a trained interpreter who knows every corner of the city, explain what you want to see in the city politely in advance. If you need a technical interpreter, a specialist in furniture, electronics or any other topic, please also inform us in advance about the interpretation topic in order not to find yourself in desperate situations. I can handle, perhaps, any topic, but I can’t cut myself in two. So if you ask for a recommendation—please tell us what your exact goal is in advance. I will give you, if possible, a specialist who will cope with the tasks. And it will be great if you, being a peculiar type, go past my page and me as your partner in China. Money for me is not an end in itself. I want to get money for the work that makes me happy. I am an optimist, and negative emotions do not please me.