Sunday, August 5, 2007

International Ep5: Ping Meets Canada

Quick note on Lifehack before I go on- 80% complete the revision. I might only release locally for the sake of keeping big-boys publishing options a bit more open. Debating the need for another new cover, once with a realistic Regan portrait somehow in it. The current cover makes it look like a horror book, and while that is a factor, it's not the only focus.. and it's not nearly as gory as you might expect a "horror novel" to be..

Anyway, Ping. Where to start. She arrived what seems like a long time ago. Fina, in no particular order, here's some defining events early on...

The Laptop
Unlike Rei and Asuka who had been using the spare computer in the kitchen when need be, Ping came with her own laptop. It was about a month old. Just before coming to Canada, she dropped it. Hard. Her solution? Buy a new one.
This was typical. She had access to gobs of money, which outweighed her patience. After much convincing, she agreed to let me try to get it fixed on warranty. Ever try to get a Chinese Toshiba fixed in Canada? The same model here and there are the same in name only. The guts are all different.
"Take your warranty info and the laptop to this authorized toshiba dealership near you, and they can fix it."
"Will it matter than it was bought in China?"
"Nono, just take it in."

"Hello Mr Authorized dealer! I have this tosh-"
"WTF! That's the Chinese version! You're gonna hafta talk to toshiba."
"They sent me to you."
"Well, I can't do anything with it. Talk to toshiba."

"Hey toshiba, he couldn't do anything because it's the chinese version, and-"
"Really? Try these guys instead."

"Hi Mr Authorized dealer #2! I have th-"
"Aw geez, we cant get those parts. Talk to toshiba."

"Hey toshiba. They told me to talk to you."
"Wow, they couldn't deal with it?"
"Well, they said cuz it's the chin-"
"Try these guys over there..."

Eventually I ponded it into the toshiba guys' heads that it wasn't going to get fixed locally. They had me chip it across the country to the national toshiba HQ to get fixed. Meanwhile, Ping had entirely forgotten about her old laptop and my struggle with it, and bought a new one.

After much more confusion which is now merely a blur in my memory she ended up with her old chinese laptop, which she wanted english windows on, and a new canadian desktop that she wanted chinese windows on.

This made sense at the time, somehow. Like I said, Blurry logic. This was an effect we've affectionately come to call "Ping-sense".
I ended up having to install chinese windows more than once. Ping momentarily thought I knew mandarin! No, it was just that windows is windows. After having installed it a zillion times, I just knew what it was asking next, and which menu options I wanted.

Then the old laptop died again. It had been only repaired of the most obvious error, and more damage from the drop was waiting to be a pain in the butt. Call toshiba, and start that whole process over again....

Mix in some help from a family friend of hers who lives a couple hours from here, and I never wanted to see one of Ping's computers again.

I had been reading with Rei after dinner to help with her pronunciation, and offered to do the same with Ping. She accepted. Kind of.
Ping had no interest in improving her english. She was only interested in the academics. When she arrived, half her luggage was textbooks. The three big sciences, and all of Shakespeare, in two languages.
What did she want from me? To help her grind through her social studies textbook. While Rei's sessions tended to be 10 minutes followed by half an hour or so of semi-related chatter, Ping's went on for hours, chipping slowly through page after page of canadian history. This went on for about a week and a half before she figure out (or maybe my wife hinted) that this extended time after dinner was slowly killing me. Usually after dinner, I would do a few things that needed doing, then get my sore butt out of this wheelchair and into bed, to play games, watch TV, draw, etc until I wanna go to sleep. A long day or two now and then is survivable, but this was too much.
Ping then had another idea. She would scan all the pictures of the textbook, and email them to her family friends in the area, so they could translate them and send them back. This didn't last long either. Ping began to (slowly) realize that her academic life in canada would go a lot smoother with a big more ability in english....
Go figure.

One day shortly after Ping arrived, the two of us went on a walk to the store and back.
"In china, people like you... Aren't outside." This meant that people in wheelchairs are generally stuck at home in China. They aren't seen out and about. Doubtless accessibility in China has a little to do with that, and also attitudes about the disabled. "You do so much!" I do? Tall that to Rick Hansen, or my old physio therapist from GF!
A bit later she comes up with another unexpected question. "When you clean house?"
"Oh, whenever it needs it. Like once a week, I guess."
"My house we clean every day." She does? Wow. She must think canadians are slobs!
"What day?" She asked.
"You call her when you want?"
"Call who?"
BWAAAAAAAAAHAHHAHAHAA! Yeah. Ahem. Maybe Ping's family can afford a daily maid, and buying laptops at the drop of a hat, but we can't. "We're middle class, we can't afford a maid."
"Oh! China, no middle class." Yeah, I heard. You're either loaded in China, of you have to get a mortgage for your dirt.

After reading about all that, you might imagine that Ping's a stuckup lil snob. She's just been raised with money. But I think she'll survive it.
One day, Me, Michelle, Ping and Rei went to the little mall nearby. By this time, Rei and Ping had more or less decided to hate each other. (More on that in another post) so when Michelle headed to the craft store, and I went to the game store, Ping stuck to me, Rei stuck to Michelle.
But Ping had a reason for coming with me. We arrived in the game store, with rack of DVD cases all around. "Which one you like?"
I love to yatter about which games are good, which are underrated, and which need to be banished to hades. But I thought I'd keep it simple. "That one's popular right now, but it's not my type. That one's good. I played the heck out of it."
"Which you want?"
"I think I have all the ones I want already. One's coming in two months I plan to get." I had seen through her plan. She was looking to get me a present, in a way of saying thanks for all the various things I'd done for her, but I quietly shut down her plan. The intent was more than enough.

Another time, I was coming down the hall, and there was Ping in the living toom, looking sad. "Hey Ping, what's up?"
She looked down, and glanced at me. "I OK."
"If you're sure..."
"Just when... I look at you, I get... not cry, but like cry."
"Yes, sad."
"You have pain and have to be in wheelchair."
Awwwwww. "Ping, listen. Its a bad thing to have to do, but don't let it worry you. I don't let it worry me. You only need to worry about school, OK?"
She nodded, and seemed more or less satisfied. Since then, it's become as plain a thing to her as it is to me. It was nice to know she took a moment to think about it though. Ping's really a sweet (and funny!) girl when she takes a moment to think about things.

Next time i do a student post- WAR! In the kitchen and abroad!