What do you mean I can’t have the car?


Today was one of those rare days when Anders and I both needed the car at the same time.  He had to pick up a colleague at the airport and I had a Mandarin lesson. What to do, what to do? Anders asked one of his team members if I could use her driver. She’s at work all day and he doesn’t do anything (pretty nice gig). Not sure what the driver thought but fellow P&Ger said of course. For the record, I was prepared to take a taxi. I’m not 100% spoiled…yet. 😉

Yesterday when I told Ben that he was driving to the airport he was concerned that I was going to have to cancel my lesson. I told him that Anders was going to find a substitute driver at the office and I would be fine. He told me to tell Anders that he would talk to the driver and tell him what he needed to do. When Anders came home and we were talking about the plan he said that Ben did a bit of a background check (what, Ben didn’t know the guy?!?!) and he found out that he spoke a bit of English. Good to know but I speak enough Mandarin that I can manage.

Berlitz has moved to a new location and parking is not available. I have no idea where Ben is when I call him to tell him I’m done with my lesson but it takes him about 5 minutes to arrive at the building. Ben told me that when I was done today to call him and he would relay the message to the new driver. Now…I’m more than capable of saying in both Mandarin and Cantonese that I’m ready and to come pick me up but that wasn’t gonna fly. I told Ben I could do it but no, he insisted that I call him. He even reminded me AGAIN when I got out of  the car to call him when I was done. I concede that I’m well on my way to being 100% spoiled. I can only imagine what the substitute driver thought, “I’m picking her up at Berlitz where she’s learning to speak Chinese and she can’t even make a simple phone call to tell me that she’s ready?” That’s what I’d be thinking but I’m judgemental!

When I got in the car (thank heavens he did not jump out and open the door for me) I thanked him and told him to take my home (he already knew that but I had to prove to him the that the lessons weren’t a total waste). Not another word came out of my mouth until he got me home and I said thank you very much and goodbye. I spoke 4 phrases to the man and he didn’t need to hear any of them.  I have been told that I’m too polite for  China, they just don’t say please and thank you and hello and goodbye all the time. He knew he was taking me home, I know Ben told him exactly where he was going because once he got in the apartment complex he went straight to the front of my building.  It was a very quiet car ride and a glimpse of what it would be like if I didn’t have Ben who:

A) speaks pretty good English and is getting better all the time with me yapping in his ear

B) is gregarious

C) is fun AND funny

I am lucky indeed.

3PM – 74°


About vikarenously

I am an ex-pat living in Guangzhou, China. I am married to the man of my dreams who has indulged my love of travel by working hard enough to snag two international assignments. Oh yes, I also have two amazing children who accompanied us on our first one to Switzerland and are now mature and responsible adults which makes it so easy for us to experience this adventure as empty-nesters. Experience it vicariously with Karen.

4 responses »

  1. From my experience I doubt the sub thought anything about it, you are Ben’s peeps and it is his job to take of you. The sub was kind of under Ben’s direction here, that saving face and status thing. You were probably very blessed to get Ben but Ben does have to protect his turf and his job in “China think” and that is what he was doing.

    Especially if the sub was a subordinate to your husband, keeping his place.

    • Thanks and you’re absolutely right Nola. I forget how heirarchical the Chinese are. Anders did ask a subordinate to borrow her driver and I guess it was Ben’s chance to flex his status muscles. I will remember that the next time and just let him do his thing. I laugh.

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