Thursday, September 10, 2015

Everybody's Talkin' At Me

My new office has a south-facing window. My colleague across the hall has lots of plants and no windows. (She's the colleague who was a little freaked out that I don't have a no-foolin' teaching credential.) She has started sending her plants through my room on a rotation to get sunlight. When she was making a switch yesterday, she asked how things were going.

"I looked up in my contract to see how much the penalty is that I have to pay for quitting," I said.

She paused to look at my face and then said, "You're not joking."

We ended up talking about the ridiculous requirements of my current assignments, but then I also mentioned the unknown future revaluations of the yuan. I said, "If the yuan resets 20-to-30 percent before January, how many teachers come back from Spring Festival?"

She asked if I had talked to an administrator about these concerns. I said I hadn't, but in our discussion we decided that maybe I needed to share some economic expertise with some of our bosses.

In a separate conversation, I also discussed some economic concerns with an economist colleague. He said a bigger concern for him is the imposition of capital controls. If we can't send money home, none of us can afford to be here at all. I said I was hopeful that capital controls would be tightened on citizens before they laid them on foreigners. He said he thought it more likely that they would start with foreigners because it would be more politically acceptable to punish non-citizens.

And just to prove that not all my conversations are economic in nature, my wife and I had the following WeChat conversation.

MY WIFE: You have to re-read the harry potter series aloud. it turns out the t in voldemort is silent. #frenchie #rowlingneedstokeepquiet

A RANDOM STRANGER: Maybe she should have decided that before being an Associate Producer for 8 movies where every actor pronounced the T.

MY WIFE: That's what I said!

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