Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 10: Efficiency
Bi Lele explained: “The little cactus ball grew from the root of big one. It was later transplanted into a new pot, so the boss has been taking care of two plants since it was the product of the original one.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
“And that’s not all….” Bi Lele craned her neck looking at the direction of the director’s office and then lowered her head, looked at Zhang Siyi, she lowered her voice and continued to explain: “About two months ago at the end of May there was an intern working with our group from T University.”
“Oh?” Zhang Siyi leaned in closer, eager to listen to the gossip with rapt attention.
Bi Lele pointed to Zhang Siyi’s desk, saying: “Like her, you both were assigned to the same desk and asked take care of the cactus.”
“Wait a minute,” Zhang Siyi interrupted. “Let me make it clear. I didn’t ask for the cactus. The boss gave it to me by his own accord.”
Zhang Siyi repeated the dialogue at that time, Bi Lele turned a blind eye: “When you admitted to liking the cactus, isn’t that just a roundabout way of asking him for it?”
Zhang Siyi mouth twitched. The plants were in different pots so naturally he didn’t know that the small one came from the bigger one. So, why was asking about it so weird….
Bi Lele continued: “In any case, the girl was nice and had a cheerful personality. Although she didn’t say it out loud, it was obvious that she liked the boss. When she was picking her plant, she directly asked Gu Yu for the small cactus. Rather than directly refusing her, instead he smiled and simply asked: “If I casually give my small cactus away to a girl, then what does our relationship mean?”
Zhang Siyi did not react: “eh?”
“How can you not understand! As the one taking care of the plant, Gu Yu was like the father and since the new growth needed to be transplanted, it’s like a brother. If he gives away a member of his family to some girl, then what does that make her… of course, his wife!” Talking about the director made Bi Lele look around anxiously.
Figuring out a piece of truth, Zhang Siyi was flush with embarrassment.
“At that time, the girl was stunned and couldn’t speak. She didn’t stay for a long and after two months of internship, she left. But after that incident, everyone thought Gu Yu wouldn’t give away his cactus to anyone.” Bi Lele said, looking at Zhang Siyi with a sly look. “I didn’t expect him to give it away now.”
Heart beating faster, Zhang Siyi felt worried. In a flash he had a million thoughts about all that had happened the other day. Would he not think he was Gay? Gu Yu overheard all his ex-girlfriend grievances so if he gave him the cactus ball, was he treating Zhang Siyi differently? Was he trying to hint at something?
Zhu Hongzhen snorted: “Don’t listen to her nonsense. The girls here love to make up stories. The boss just told her that as a euphemism to express his uninterested feelings towards her. Besides, the ball grew out from the big one. It’s a brother, not a child!”
Bi Lele said: “The cactus comes from the same root. If you don’t cut it away, then it will stick together! The seeds that come from the blossoms are the offspring, you have no understanding!”
Zhu Hongzhen: “Forget the details. That’s one crazy theory.”
Although Bi Lele’s comments made a bit of sense, Zhang Siyi was more inclined believe Zhu Hongzhen’s rhetoric. He took a deep breath, consoling himself: It’s an office plant, not a gay thing. (=_=)
However, this story also made Zhang Siyi realize that he may not be as special to Gu Yu as he initially thought. Although they were from the same area and high school, it doesn’t really mean anything. Gu Yu wasn’t just an alumnus but also a graduate of T University with countless additional schoolmates, not to mention, all of his colleagues and additional acquaintances from the industry.
Thinking about it in this way, Zhang Siyi could not help but feel a little disappointed. He didn’t dwell on the subject further so he quickly recovered his mood.
Since there wasn’t a new task early in the morning, Zhang Siyi took the opportunity to take pictures of his work desk and post them to the circle of friends on social media. Note: “new job!”
All Zhang Siyi wanted to do was send one photo and put away the mobile phone, but quickly someone commented. The praises Zhang Siyi received made him feel great.
One of his friends, Xue Wenhan, who was still living in the UK as he was studying for a master’s degree in a related architectural field, wrote a note. Calculating the time difference, the time was two o’clock in the middle of the night. It seems that his friend was still staying up late, but whether it is because he is studying or playing, Zhang Siyi didn’t know.
Many “Congratulations!“ messages appeared as well as inquiries about the new job and how he was doing… Zhang Siyi had no time to reply to them one by one. He was seeking approval and wanted to quickly reply with a short response, but a familiar voice sounded from behind him: “You seem to have a lot of time on your hands.”
Zhang Siyi froze and almost dropped his phone.
Standing at the end of the desk, unbeknown to Zhang Siyi, Gu Yu appeared behind him. With a cup in his hand, he was looking at him with penetrating, sharp eyes and smiling. Without giving Zhang Siyi the chance to talk, he commanded, “Come.”
Perturbed, Zhang Siyi hurriedly shoved his phone into his trousers pocket and followed him.
Gu Yu put two chairs in front of the desk. When Zhang Siyi sat in one, a girl with long straight hair came, and asked softly: “Looking for me?”
Gu Yu said “hmm” and indicated with his hand the vacancy to the side of Zhang Siyi, so she can sit down.
Two people looked at each other and Zhang Siyi was first to introduce himself: “Hello, I am Zhang Siyi. I was just hired yesterday.”
The girl smiled shyly, shook hands with him and softly said: “I heard. I am Du Rui, Hello.”
When Gu Yu saw that they had finished introductions, he pushed two stacks of information in front of them. “This is a design summary of a single youth apartment in S City. It requires three sets of plans. Du Rui will do two sets and Zhang Siyi will do one set. We will meet again in the conference room at 1:30 this afternoon to discuss the preliminary design plans. The plans need to be refined before the end of the work day.”
When Du Rui replied with a simple ‘understood’ and stood up to leave the office, Zhang Siyi was still digesting what Gu Yu said.
“Hey, wait.” Out of the door, Zhang Siyi hurriedly asked her, “He only gave us one morning to work on our designs? With lunch break, that only leaves three hours….?”
Du Rui calmly said: “Yes.”
Zhang Siyi was shocked. When they were studying, they were given a week for each assignment. Now he must do it in three hours? This time he couldn’t ignore the project data.
Du Rui, who had more experience than him, remained calm. Can he do it?
Zhang Siyi stiffly returned to his seat and frantically opened the information about the project to start reading it. The pressure of Gu Yu’s assignment was making him distressed. Never mind what earlier praise he received; Zhang Siyi didn’t have time to think about anything! With such constraints, Zhang Siyi’s motivation accelerated and was determined to create a good plan on time.
Since the project was to design a single apartment aimed at the young adult demographic, Zhang Siyi was more familiar with the work than he did with the bathrooms in the large office building. After all, he lived in a student apartment in the UK. In addition, he experienced many beautiful places when traveling abroad. He tried to draw from memory but changed it and instead used models. He would just have to wait until the meeting to explain his thoughts. Although it was a bit rough, Zhang Siyi was surprised at his efficiency. If he could have done this while studying, it would have been so easy!”
At lunch time, Zhang Siyi ordered a meal at the company and went to the dining area with his colleagues.
Du Rui sat two rows away from Zhang Siyi while Lu Qiao was between them. When she passed by, Zhang Siyi wanted to call out to her and ask her about the plan during lunch time, but Du Rui said: “You eat first. I haven’t finished my designs. I’ll eat later.”
Zhang Siyi thought about it too. She needed to draw two sets, and her workload was much greater than his. Curious, Zhang Siyi looked over at Du Rui to see what she was drawing. He was surprised as there were several already finished, beautifully drawn designs on the table.
“Oh my God! Are you drawing designs by hand?” Zhang Siyi said shocked.
Du Rui smiled and shook her head: “No, the designs have been drawn with a computer. I am making a few final touches now, so I can add some explanations afterwards.”
Zhang Siyi was stammered: “You, you are so good!”
Although the architecture department in the UK had related drawing courses, the department didn’t have a requirement for students to be very skilled at sketching and drawing by hand. Add the fact that computer design software was popular, Zhang Siyi rarely planned out his designs by hand. Without the years of practice at university, he absolutely couldn’t draw to the same professional level as Du Rui.
Du Rui humbly said: “Thanks, but I’m just ok. Take a look over at Yuan Zhicheng drawings. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and his drawings are really great.”
Zhang Siyi didn’t want to say anything. He wanted to bury his own head in a basin of sand!
His relaxed state of mind from earlier quickly dissolved. Once he returned to his desk, he only had a half an hour left until the meeting and his mind was focused on the task. He used to laze around and check his social media accounts frequently, but now, it wasn’t something he was even considering.
He was looking over his design again when a message appeared at half passed one. Gu Yu had summoned him and Du Rui to meet.
In the discussion room, both he and Du Rui placed the designs out on the table for review. It felt like he was back in University having a weekly project critique and was waiting for his professor’s approval. Even knowing he had to plan out one apartment while she was assigned two, he was surprised at the volume of work Du Rui brought to the discussion room compared to his own. It made him feel wholly inadequate. On top of that, her renderings where so beautiful to look at! As a result, he broke out in a cold sweat.
Gu Yu quickly reviewed the work. He first acknowledged the volume of Du Rui work and then let Zhang Siyi look at the two designs. “What do you think?”
“Ah, uh, very good.” The quality of those hand drawn pictures has already blinded Zhang Siyi.
After careful examination, without any hesitation, Gu Yu was quick to point out several flaws in Du Rui’s scheme, one of which rendered it largely useless. She felt like crying.
On the side, Zhang Siyi was feeling apprehensive, only to find out that what he suffered last night was nothing. It was shocking. Gu Yu was a terrible person. He really was terrible! Even though Du Rui had worked so hard, he didn’t feel any pity at all!
When it was Zhang Siyi’s turn, he was prepared to hear the worst. Maybe there was a reason for Du Rui’s criticism, but he thought that if Gu Yu also found faults to his own work, Du Rui might feel a little better.
However, after looking over his design, Gu Yu just nodded and said two words: “It’s good.”
…… Good. that’s it?
Yes, there was nothing more to say.
For the next phase of the draft, the Director had Du Rui modify one of her plans, then combine them with Zhang Siyi efforts and finally said. “All the toilets are to be managed by Zhang Siyi.” He nodded at them, and then left.
Zhang Siyi: “…”
Zhang Siyi watched him nonchalantly leave the room. When he turned around, he saw Du Rui staring at his own drawings. Zhang SIyi wanted to ease the directors’ words in a small way but didn’t know what to say. Du Rui had worked at the office for a long time. He only just started, so how was he qualified to offer this senior a comforting word?
Embarrassed, he saw Du Rui wipe the corner of her eye and look up: “Zhang Siyi, can you talk to me about the thoughts behind your design?”
Zhang Siyi saw her firm tears and red eyes, but then the girl expression suddenly changed. A hint of stubbornness and determination was seen.