Reunions with school fellows (2)

Continued from the first part

After graduation, he joined a Sino-Japanese joint venture in Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang. This company carves gravestones and sells them to Japan. He started from the very junior level and worked all the way up to be the chief financial officer. When he no longer found his job there challenging, he decided to go to Beijing for greater career prospects. His boss wouldn’t let him go. But, he’d made up his mind. About two months had since passed before he could eventually leave the company. After that, four people were needed to take over his job.

The first thing he did after he came to Beijing was not to find a job. Instead, he went to an expensive English language training school to learn English as a full time student. His learning lasted two years.

He now works at the largest accounting firm in the Chinese mainland. Though his firm is based in Beijing, he often works in, for example, Liaoning and Hong Kong, for months. According to his plan, he will have enough exposure to and hands-on experience in the accounting at international companies and then join a large company as its chief financial officer. His current job can serve his purpose well.

Our youngest boy (Laogeda) is not as ambitious as the Eight (Laoba). When they both worked in Heilongjiang, Laogada dawdled away his first two years before Laoba encouraged him to study to become a certified public account of China (CPA). After Laoba settled down in Beijing, Laogada came here, too. He now worked for a leading accounting firm in Beijing. Like Laoba, he spends most of working time outside of Beijing. Unlike Laoba, he’s never serious about English and so he hasn’t thought about working at a company where English language skills are necessary.

Last May, we finally met again after more than ten years. At a restaurant near my company and at Laogada’s home, I drank the largest amount of beer in my life. I don’t remember how I climbed into a small bed and shared it with the other two.

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(The first night of drinking after 12 years, April 29, 2009)

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(When the two leave my home in Daxing, May 8, 2009)

Afei (fei means flying; he used to run really fast), another school fellow and roommate, came to Beijing last Wednesday on his honeymoon tour. Laoba was still in Hong Kong, so only three of us and Afei’s wife got together at a Donglaishun hotpot restaurant near his hotel. Before Afei and his wife left Beijing for Dalian last weekend, we met again at a Korean-style rotisserie.

Afei is now a police officer. At our second get-together, he told us two stories he’d never shared with his wife. He had not just because he didn’t want his wife to worry about him.

As a new police officer, he joined a sting operation and had a face-to-face encounter with a suspect who wanted to buy a gun. The suspect became alerted and suspicious and pointed his gun at Afei’s head after he found the firing pin was missing from the gun Afei offered him. Afei calmly handled the situation and eventually called in his comrades to arrest the suspect. If this story is life-threatening, then the other is health-and-happiness-threatening.

At a birthday party, one of his “friends” offered him and others something to “sniff”. Later, Afei got really sick and threw up everything he’d eaten. After a furious questioning, he knew that what they’d sniffed was drug. They got so angry that they beat the daylights out of the “friend”. Afei has since never contacted him.

When he told us the story of his first and last use of drug, I commented, as I often do when this topic comes up, that ordinary people need to work really hard, for dozens of years, and at the expense of other enjoyments, to get a feeling of happiness and euphoria. Drug abusers can easily get dose after dose of them just by taking some magic substance. They pay for this false happiness and euphoria with the rest of their life. None are immune to feelings of happiness. Neither can anyone be immune to drugs. So, my idea is: avoid drugs at all costs.

At our two get-togethers, we either forgot to bring a camera or forgot to take photos. We only drank and talked. Next time, I’ll make sure photos are taken!

I’ve settled down in Beijing with my wife. As long as I stay put in this city, we have other chances to meet again and with other boys and girls.

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