Warnings in September 2006

This summer’s just been strange. We’ve had a few egg fryers, but the typhoons just keep blowing them cool. Chongqing has had a day at 44.5 degrees, and I’ve had days where I look for a taxi with the windows down. Traffic is up, but skies are clear. I can’t say I’ve been here as long as an average middle school student, but I’ve been here for a while, and have never seen this. This summer weather’s been great. My A/C was off, and the gentle cool breeze even prompted me to put a light cover on. A few guys outside were chatting about how to repaint the lines in the parking lot. Leaning over, I checked my mobile for the time. It was just past eight. Huh? Was it night time already? Was something wrong? I was totally confused. How could I have naturally woken up at 8:11am? My alarm was set for 8:25. I should’ve been tired, but I felt invigorated. I didn’t even have to dig the eye poop off my lashes. It was going to be a good day. Then I remembered why my alarm was set so early, and I recoiled to the covers. I had to get my yearly health check. Even though I’ve kind of gotten used to them, they’re not something I look forward to. At least they’re not held in that barrack on Laozheda road anymore. That jelly they squirt on your chest is not cool. The drill sergeant eye examiner cracks me up. I’m not keen on having x-rays bounce all over my body. Then there’s the bloody blood check, and the electric Frankenstein things they clamp to your limbs. But hey, it’s kind of cool to have all those little orange books pile up over the years—kind of like a record of what the adventure’s done to me. I got up, and quickly showered, brushed, and dressed. In no time, there would be no taxis. I paused before the metal door hoping the outside temperature was no different from the building’s. It wasn’t. It was gorgeous. All four of the taxi windows were open, and I felt the soothing air on my bald head. I was going to walk into this health exam stress-free. I cared not that the light turned red. Then one by one, the squeaking began. It was like being in some Alfred Hitchcock movie. The squeaking birds were everywhere, but these birds weren’t birds, they were those damned electric bikes and their old break pads. This month I’m warning you all that it’s the little things that matter.

You buy an electric bike for over 2,000RMB, and can’t spend the ten minutes and 10RMB to get the brake pads replaced. Really. That’s all it costs. Spare my ears. Pay that little bit. Give that dude a second before honking the horn. Give the editor a little patience when he spells something incorrectly. This reminds me. I’ve got to water my thirsty bamboo plant in the living room. I’ve got to stop using tissues, and buy some toilet paper. I’ve got to stop getting upset about the extra 1RMB on the taxi meter. I should send mom a quick e-mail. That empty water bottle is just a phone call away from being full. I should keep my warnings to myself. Then we’d all have a little more time to do things. \

By Tim Hoerle