I’ve got a problem. It’s not that I really don’t have any money. It’s that I’m very strange when it comes to spending it. I’ll buy a bottle of tea from a shop so that I don’t have to in the restaurant. I’ll tell the taxi driver to stop just before the meter is going to jump, and then walk the rest. My razor is about as dull as an elephant’s ass. There are three button down shirts in my closet that I just rotate. My right shoe has a split in the sole, and my foot gets soaked when stepping into the smallest piss puddle. I still refuse to buy a new pair. I can get at least a week’s worth of toothpaste out of a tube most would consider a week past its death. I buy bananas one at a time because I’m afraid I won’t eat the bunch quickly enough. I’m cheap. You really think I enjoy those 4RMB cigarettes? Yeah, I quit for a while, but… Then again, I’ve been known to really splurge at times. I’ve taken a taxi to Shanghai because I just don’t feel like going to the bus station. When the company is right, I’ll spend anything on a dinner. The drink? Ha! You only live once, right? I’ll give my ayi a tip when my socks smell really bad. How stupid. I spend all of this time cutting a kuai here and a kuai there only to drop a wad of pink notes on a Sunday afternoon at the bar. This month I’m not going to warn you to spend less or spend more. I’m warning you to just take note of where it goes.
Last month I was having a cup of Longjing tea (50RMB) with a friend. He told me how he just bought a case of wine from the distributor (250RMB) because it saved him so much (4RMB per bottle). He then told me how he bought an Audi (500,000RMB) for his top salesman. Later that day, I was talking to a bar owner. She had just heard how to hire people on the cheap (100RMB less per month). For the World Cup, she wanted buy a big TV (25,000RMB). I ate my dinner (8RMB), took a taxi (14RMB), and ordered a beer (20RMB). A friend came by and had his shoes (1,100RMB) shined (2RMB), and then ordered a bottle (300RMB). It was a hot day and my T-shirt (11RMB) was getting sweaty. I looked at my watch (3,000RMB) and it was still relatively early. Another friend called and said he still hadn’t received his deposit (1,000,000RMB), but did get his commission (240,000RMB), so he would be able to visit soon, and have a plate of his favorite noodles (12RMB). He said the Shanghai version (15RMB) just doesn’t compare. I went to the bathroom (0RMB). A beggar came by (0.5RMB), we turned on the laptop (12,000RMB), and got online through the wireless connection (1,200RMB/year). One more beer (20RMB). A cat meowed, I ordered some meat sticks (10RMB), and it was no longer hungry.
Was this insane? I gave the toothless man 0.5RMB and got the cat 10RMB of meat sticks? Then again, another dude I know says he doesn’t care how much he spends, but only how much he makes. And who the hell am I to advise people on money matters anyway? I knew I should have written this piece on the weather. Take no heed to my warnings. Live and let live. We’ve only got a few days till the heat is upon us.
By Tim Hoerle