I just got home from the “Crap Market” or as it’s more commonly known, OneLink. I ended up going by myself because my fellow “crapper” couldn’t make it. I almost didn’t go but I thought it would be good for me to get out by myself. I even used some Mandarin at the stall where I bought 3 adorable purses for $14. Actually that’s all I used and maybe a little gesturing. I also managed to walk into 2 dead-ends in the building. That’s not easy to do yet I managed it. I’m so directionally challenged when there is no tall beacon to guide me. That is the real reason I don’t like to go to OneLink by myself! I get lost.
The real point of this post is Ben. I hope you don’t mind yet another tale or two of how wonderful he is but this man is a treasure and we are INCREDIBLY lucky to have him.
He’s teaching me a useful Mandarin phrase everyday. This was precipitated by him very gently, sweetly, delicately, and kindly telling me yesterday that when I call him I just need to tell him what time to pick me up. We can discuss plans when he can see my face. For anyone that speaks another language you know how difficult it is to talk on the phone! Point taken 😉 So that led to me asking him to teach me the phrases I need when I call him. I showed up in the car this morning with a notebook to write down what he tells me. Oh, he thought that was funny. Today’s lesson was “I’m ready.” He thought for 5 minutes about the best phrase to teach me as there are several. He told me that he doesn’t want to teach me anything too slangy but also doesn’t want me to speak high-Mandarin. Thanks for keeping it real. I wrote what he told me, spelled incorrectly of course, and practiced it with him because there are 3 tones in this short little phrase!
He then put amazing amounts of pressure on me, unknowingly of course. He told me that he thinks in 6 months he won’t need his English when talking to me! YIKES! You can’t do that! I won’t be able to do anything for the next 6 months except study, study, study to achieve that level of expectation. I told him that he was being kind but he said that he truly believes it. After I ODed on OneLink it was time for me to call him. I practiced it a few times in my head and I laid my zhunbei hao le (I’m ready) on him and I got an enthusiastic hao de (good) in return.
I had asked him to take me to an ATM before I hit the market. We got talking about my “lesson” and forgot until we pulled up to the front of the building. I asked him if there was one nearby and he pointed me around the corner. I admit my heart skipped a beat because I wondered how I would ever find my way back to where he dropped me off. As I’ve said before, where you’re dropped off is where you’re picked up and as I’m so directionally challenged I panicked a tad. So, I noted that there was a Chinese Lottery kiosk at the corner and walked about 1 1/2 blocks to find the bank. The ATMs were in a lobby but if you’re waiting you have to do it outside, that’s how close they are to the doorway. So, I was waiting and watching the guards have a very good laugh about something, and I heard behind me, “Karen, you ok?” It was Ben. He surprised me but after I thought about it I shouldn’t have been. He wanted to make sure I found the bank and that I was OK with the ATM. I told him earlier there is an ATM 1 block from our apartment but it doesn’t have English options. So he waited until it was my turn and when the English came up he stepped outside to wait for me. As we were walking back to OneLink he cautioned me to make sure I kept my wallet in my purse and to keep a tight hold on it, both inside and outside. It’s a crowded place and there are some nefarious looking people hanging about. He did not use the word nefarious, that’s me taking liberties. I looked up at him and realized that he was being the guardian that we had heard about from his previous family. I don’t even want to think about the day we leave China 😦