Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 53: Empty City
Director Jiang first asked the driver to take Secretary Wang back to the nearby government office before driving them to dinner.
Normally, Zhang Siyi eats at the chain restaurants in Haicheng. The kind of farm-to-table homemade meals Director Jiang spoke of makes his appetite grow. He is reminded of the time Gu Yu took him out to eat sand tea noodles. In addition to the dishes mentioned, Director Jiang ordered other selections, including a famous casserole dish and white head shrimp.
With a bowl of steaming fish soup, the fatigue that Zhang Siyi and Lu Qiao felt, was swept away. The feeling of warmth was worth it.
During the meal, Director Jiang chatted with them for a while. Unlike Secretary Wang’s official speech, this director was more casual. He asked them about their education, the industry, when their annual holiday is and more.
Since they had a very good impression of the Director, Zhang Siyi and Lu Qiao had been chatting with him for a long time.
After dinner, the Director drove them around the city and introduced them to some local customs and culture along the way. He pointed out which plots are new development, what the uses are and how the current situation is. Zhang Siyi took out a pen and notebook to write down the information Director Jiang reported.
C-City is not big. It takes less than an hour to drive all around. Director Jiang turned to them and asked them what plans they have next and whether they should go to the station or not. Sitting in the car watching the relatively busy business district, Zhang Siyi suddenly remembered when Gu Yu took him out to the night market to the experience the old town of Z-City. “Director Jiang, it is still early and you are busy. We can go shopping on our own and then take a taxi to the station.”
Director Jiang nodded at the two young people and said: “Alright. Mr. Zhang has my phone number. Should there be any problems, you can contact me.”
Zhang Siyi and Lu Qiao thanked him for his hospitality, said goodbye and got out of the car.
Observing Zhang Siyi mature ability to deal with others, Lu Qiao didn’t question his decision in the car, but now he asked: “Isn’t the evaluation done, what else is there?”
Zhang Siyi: “Since we are here, we might as well look around and go shopping while keeping in mind the design of the landmark government office building. We might feel inspired by our surroundings. Let’s do a good job!”
Lu Qiao understood, nodded with approval, and said: “Ah, you are really work hard. With New Year’s approaching, I still wanted to do a casual job, but now you have raised the bar. Ha-ha, let’s go.”
Laughing a bit, Zhang Siyi thought of the words his Father used to describe himself: “I’m Mr. three-minutes. The first project will inevitable be taken very seriously.”
Lu Qiao bowed his head and followed him for a while silently, then suddenly asked: “Auntie Four, what do your parents do?”
Zhang Siyi stunned, remembering his promise and his father’s cautious warning: “Why are you suddenly asking me this? My parents are ordinary office workers.”
With a skeptical look, Lu Qiao flatly replied: “Can ordinary office workers afford an education abroad in the UK? Can they rent a 12,000 high-class apartment in the first year of work? Can they buy a cup of coffee for thirty or forty dollars? Well, these days you can say that many ordinary people can do it, but after listening to Secretary Wang and Director Jiang, to be honest, if you weren’t here today, I am sure I would die. I don’t know how to speak when facing big officials.”
Zhang Siyi was a little confused at Lu Qiao reaction. “What big official? He is just the Director of the planning bureau in the city. Even if they don’t normally go out to meet with people like us, don’t be afraid, they are just office workers.” He had comforted Lu Qiao casually, but when he finished speaking, he saw Lu Qiao’s eyes widened.
When Zhang Siyi thought about it, he realized that he “understood” a bit more. He closed mouth and quickly replied: “Hey, anyway, the officials are serving the people. You treat him as an ordinary person. Of course, you are a junior, and should respect him a little bit more.”
Lu Qiao glared at Zhang Siyi for two seconds, suddenly approached him, grabbed the other’s shoulder and covered his mouth with his palm then mysteriously said: “Tell me. I promise not to tell.”
“…” Zhang Siyi shrank his neck. “My Father isn’t an official. He is a civil servant, um, civil servant!”
Seeing Zhang Siyi’s evasive reluctance, Lu Qiao tried harder. He was short so it was difficult to keep him still. He squinted and said: “Are you not a prince that was made to be with common folk as a learning experience?”
Sweating on his forehead, Zhang Siyi is indeed having an experience, but Lu Qiao’s description seems to be a bit too much!
When Lu Qiao saw that he did not answer, he guessed it for himself: “Is your father a mayor? Or a governor? Is he even more powerful?”
Zhang Siyi was afraid that the more he said the more outrageous, and quickly grabbed his mouth: “No. No. No!”
Lu Qiao is a very curious person and his thirst for information has been whetted. I don’t know if the answer is worse than killing him. In anticipation is asked: “I’m begging you!! Tell me soon. Please!”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
Zhang Siyi sighed in resignation. He whispered: “Then you swear not to tell anyone?”
Lu Qiao lifted the hand: “I swear by our revolutionary friendship, I won’t tell a soul. I will be out of orbit in my life journey, completely disconnected from Headquarters, lost in dark space, straight to energy exhaustion … ”
“All right, all right,” Zhang Siyi grunted and said quickly: “My dad is the director of the construction department in Z province.”
“Oh!!!” Lu Qiao said with a ‘I-know-so’ expression. He gave Zhang Siyi a look over then curiously asked: “What does the director of the construction department do?”
Zhang Siyi: “………”
He explained a little bit about the official positions at various levels then returned to the topic: “My Father said to treat people like them with the utmost respect. The more you are not humble and generous, the more they will think negatively about you. That would give them ammunition to use against you in the future.”
Lu Qiao seems to understand, but this “not humble and generous” is easier said than done. It is really difficult to do
Although China has a willingness to promote equality for all, the slavishness engraved in the national bones after the reincarnation of the millennial feudal dynasty is difficult to be cleaned up in a short period of time. The current social status is in the process of change to reach the state of officials and people like there is in some countries in Western Europe.
Moreover, people love to listen to good words and leadership is no exception, but how to say good things is also a skill. It is just like Zhang Siyi had said about being assistants. It not only reflects his modesty, but also pays respect to Secretary Wang’s thoughts. At the same time, he also raised the status of Gu Yu. Also, maybe Secretary Wang will call back Gu Yu with a report making him happy.
Lu Qiao sighed and looked at Zhang Siyi, envious of the family education brought by the other family. Fortunately, Zhang Siyi is a good person. If this person is a bit high-spirited, his envy will have to give birth to hate!
Lu Qiao remembered one thing and humbly asked for advice: “Why when you talked to Director Jiang first, did you give Secretary Wang your business card?”
Zhang Siyi is a glimpse, this little detail Lu Qiao does not mention that he forgot.
After thinking about it, he scratched his head and explained: “I didn’t tell him that we are just little assistants? Although it was Boss who called Wang to make arrangement for us to look at the area, the first to contact was Director Jiang. It can be seen that Director Wang does not look at us, but only our Boss. In his opinion, only Director Gu was qualified to talk to him directly. Secretary Wang came in person today and answered our questions which was more than enough on his part. Therefore, even if I give him a business card, he will return to the director Jiang, then I am not as self-aware, directly to Director Jiang…”
Lu Qiao: “…”
Shit, the original business card has so many bends around? (#°Д°)
“But Director Jiang already knows your phone number. Isn’t giving them a business card excessive?” Lu Qiao asked again.
Zhang Siyi waved his hand: “Two boxes of business cards is two hundred. I have more than enough to give away. Anyway, it will let Director Jiang deepen his impression of me. He is Secretary Wang’s aid. It’s definitely not a bad thing to give him a good impression!”
Lu Qiao was completely convinced, silently in the heart of the cow – hey, the city is deep, he wants to go back to the countryside!
The two walked for an hour and saw a lot of new commercial malls. Although they were not as big as the ones in the big cities, they were also very good.
However, Zhang Siyi found a strange phenomenon. They are already in the center of the city, but there aren’t many people around. Most of the malls were empty. The commercial spaces were void of businesses. Store clerks weren’t coming forward with greetings.
“It’s so…. empty.” Zhang Siyi said with feeling.
“Is it because of the workday?” Lu Qiao guessed.
Zhang Siyi frowned. “It shouldn’t be. It’s going to be a New Year soon. Of course, there are some people going to their jobs, but there should be many young and old alike to come buy things and prepare for the holiday.”
Lu Qiao quickly thought of the reason for this: “Ah, this is product of over-development.”
Yes, a few years ago, stimulated by rising commodity prices and rapid credit growth, many small and medium sized cities built commercial buildings, shopping centers and office buildings, which led to an oversupply in the market.
They realized now, Director Jiang only symbolically introduced them to the area. He was very proud of the development and local construction. However, they actually saw it in the first place and found that the name was not true. Although the commercial building was built, it was both unnecessary and stagnate. It seems that C-City is a typical example of over-development.
Regardless of whether the local government is doing this in order to pursue political achievements or unrealistic GDP growth, this isn’t good. Zhang Siyi’s heart has been very upset about Director Wang views. He whispered: “What new developments? What landmark office building? Is he not afraid that when it is built, the town will be poorer?”
Thoughtful, Lu Qiao asked: “How can the Secretary just ask for an office building on such a large piece of land and not make a plan first? Does his misunderstand the process?”
Zhang Siyi paused and said: “Since he knows the workmanship of Borderless, I don’t think he doesn’t understand the problem. Although he wants an office building, he knows there will be some plot planning beforehand. He used the design fee of an office building to get ideas for plot planning. He is buying one to get the other for free.”
Lu Qiao touched his chin and suddenly came over. He hit his thigh and said indignantly: “I knew it! Just let him do something! Look at what base! Ha!”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
Silence for a while, both of them sighed.
Even if they know the truth of the matter, like a doctor treating a patient regardless if they were good or evil, they have to the work as best as they can. This is basic professional curtesy.
The two quickly took a taxi to the bus station, but taxi driver had an accident at a large pothole. Lu Qiao was so angry at the driver he quarreled with him. They had to get out to take another driver and pay an additional twelve dollars. It was just a small matter to Zhang Siyi and he pulled Lu Qiao along. He was anxious to get to the station on time because he was the one that ordered the tickets back to Haicheng on the same day! However, tragedy still struck.
In the car, they also looked at the time worried. They wanted to encourage the driver to go faster. The long-distance shuttle travel time is a controlled forty-five-minute journey; not too fast and not too slow. The two of them sprint the last one-hundred meters to the train platform, only to see the train pull away, gone. With only a few minutes of dispute, they just missed the train!
Gasping for breath, Zhang Siyi held his knees.
Lu Qiao began to thrash about scolding the driver: “The shithead, bully us outsiders and let us miss the car!” When he was tired of scolding, he was dismayed: “It’s all my fault, I shouldn’t have quarreled with him.” He lowered his head and felt guilty.
“It’s not your fault, we wouldn’t be too late if I didn’t propose to shop……” Zhang Siyi comforted him and waited for him to get up. “Stop staring at the ticket. We really aren’t going back.”
Lu Qiao immediately remembered the line they said together in front of the development area and laughed out loud: “Ok now what?”
Zhang Siyi is also a bit lost: “Don’t know……”
Just then, his cell phone rang. Looking at the display, Zhang Siyi was scared to answer, but he quickly picked up. He listened to the voice on the opposite end: “Are you on your way home?”
“We, we … we aren’t coming back.” (=_=)
Listening to the rhetorical “Um,” Zhang Siyi instinctively softened his voice, and complained pitifully: “Boss….. we just….. missed the train.”
Gu Yu: “…..”