When I first moved to the Hibiscus City a teaching company pimped me out to a snake-oil salesman. It was the ultimate gig. Approximately $1,000 for about two hours of work, which amounted to wearing a suit and white lab coat and some shit talk.
All I had to do was read from a PPT to a room full of elderly Chinese people.
This is when I was my most penniless. Ramen noodles, rent and Renminbi occupied my mind then. Friends invited me to dinner, and passed on second-hand laowai survival gear. Even the local dumpling peddlers came to recognize me as a stingy foreigner, laughably attempting to shave one kaui off a bag of jiao zi in mangled Mandarin. My first year in Chengdu was a crash course in the art of haggling, amongst other things.
I wasn’t planning on being poor, but as fate would have it, I left my medical background behind in America to become a teacher and writer in China.
Now here was this guy offering me an opportunity to get filthy rich in Asia and play doctor. Noticing my hesitation he told me that if I don’t take the gig, somebody else would.
But I walked out on him—and that teaching company. That snake-oil salesman wanted me to help him foist products upon naive customers. When I walked out of his office, his assistant ran out to escort me to the elevator, saying, “Are you a Christian? You must be because I am too.”
Maybe, but not your kind of Christian.
Last night I saw my doppelganger on VICE on HBO: “Rent a White Guy”. It made me nauseous, seeing what I could have become had I made more wrong choices in my life.