The disasters began on Wang Xiaoming’s very first day of work.
Upon arriving at the company, Wang Xiaoming gathered up his courage and, in anticipation of a bright future, was about to introduce himself and greet his fellow coworkers. Then he spotted the manager wearing a banana-yellow jogging suit and a pair of obvious knock-off Nikes, standing by the office door with his hands on his hips and shouting energetically, “Look at the moon above, dawn is perfect for exercising!1举头望明月，/ 晨起要锻炼 is a meme-like adaptation of a famous Chinese poem. The original lines read “举头望明月，/ 低头思故乡” (“I raise my head to look at the clear moon in the sky and then lower it to think of my hometown”). Here, the manager has preserved the rhyming scheme of the lines but changed the second line to “must exercise in the morning.” Comrades, are you ready? Our morning exercise begins now!”
Wang Xiaoming lowered his head to look at his shiny black patent leather shoes and realized with despair that he had forgotten the fact that while he didn’t need to clock in, he needed to participate in the morning jog.
Because the atmosphere around him became too depressing, everyone’s eyes unavoidably fell on him.
The manager glanced at his shoes and then waved a friendly hand at him. “Come, come over here.”
Wang Xiaoming knew that nothing good was going to happen, but he had no other choice than to walk over.
The manager grabbed his shoulders, turned him around, and showed him off to everyone. “Come, look at his shoes. Leather shoes! Looks like stiff leather too. Looks like someone didn’t listen to what I said during the interview. I want to tell everyone that getting hired doesn’t mean you can sit back, relax, and do whatever. We have rules in this company and we’re a big company. If you don’t do well, don’t perform to company standards, then we’ll give you a warning. Three warnings and you can pack your bags, go home, and do what you want. Our company can’t support you nor afford you.”
Afterward, he released Wang Xiaoming’s shoulder and walked away without giving Wang Xiaoming a second glance.
The other senior employees looked at him in either sympathy or glee and then followed the manager out the door.
Two newly hired young ladies snuck over to him and whispered, “We didn’t wear running shoes.”
Wang Xiaoming glanced down; their situation was even worse. High heels.
The morning run took place on the sidewalk outside the park.
Clearly employees of the company were regular visitors to the park. The manager at the head of the pack still had the energy to greet people walking past as he ran, even though it seemed like he was the only one doing the greeting.
Wang Xiaoming jogged alongside the two young ladies until Baal demanded impatiently, “Get up there.”
“Ah?” Wang Xiaoming jumped in fear. Up ahead was a crosswalk; if he ran out, he’d either get hit by a car or scolded.
“Go follow that banana peel.”
The only one that matched that description would be a certain manager who thought of himself as an official inspecting the city.
Wang Xiaoming didn’t dare defy Baal, so he subtly ran faster.
He thought he was being subtle, but it was obvious to everyone else.
The path was narrow, so there was no way he could push his way through without somebody noticing.
The older employees assumed that the scolding in the morning had scared him and that he wanted an opportunity to plead his case with the manager. So they mostly ignored him.
However, they saw that just when Wang Xiaoming had caught up to the manager, the manager suddenly turned and smoothly slammed himself into the electricity pole to the side. The movement could only be described as decisive, giving people no time to react.
On the road, cars drove by.
On the sidewalk, everything stood still.
Because the accident had happened so quickly, everyone stood still for about three seconds before they realized what happened.
Out of instinct, their first reaction was to hold back their laughter, and only afterward did they realize they should have asked how the manager felt after running into the electricity pole.
The manager shook his head as he moved away from the electricity pole. He was still a little dazed. In response to the curious looks he was getting, he couldn’t really explain what made his brain short circuit and resulted in him running into the electricity pole for no apparent reason. He thought it over and could only blame it on twisting his ankle and getting thrown off course.
The crowd became excited and advised him to take it easy today.
But they underestimated the manager’s dedication to exercise. He informed everyone firmly that slacking off for one day would result in slacking off for life, and slacking off is not allowed in life! Everyone should always follow through on the principles of being committed and never giving up. He insisted on finishing the course no matter what.
The manager was so dedicated. As much as the crowd praised his dedication, a part of them also sighed in regret.
So the company-wide jogging exercises continued.
Wang Xiaoming slowed down on purpose and ran off to the side. He asked Baal quietly, “Did you, uh…”
“Yeah,” Baal answered without a hint of regret, “I told you to run faster so you could see better.” Then he waved his hand.
The manager had an up-close and personal encounter with a streetlamp.
Wang Xiaoming chose to remain silent as his gaze moved between Baal, who was laughing so hard he could barely stand straight, and the row of streetlamps.
The beneficial-exercise time was finally cut short by the manager’s increasingly swollen forehead.
When they returned to the company, the manager immediately hid himself away in his office.
Out of curiosity, Baal asked Wang Xiaoming to get closer to the office and then went in to look for himself. After he came out, he asked in confusion, “Who’s the guy with the green clothes and red face? Why does the manager keep bowing to him?”
Wang Xiaoming imagined the scene. “Guan Gong?2关公 refers to 关羽, a character from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He is often viewed as an all-around protector and is often considered as a bringer of fortune, especially in occupation and finances. Some images depict him with a red face, which could be a result either of red used in warding off evil and/or of red being viewed as the color for loyalty.”
“Uhh, historical figure. He became a god later on.”
Baal frowned, clearly unable to understand how any human could become a god.
But his confusion meant that Wang Xiaoming wasn’t distracted by him and could quickly immerse himself in studying the tricks of the trade from his seniors.
After learning for about a minute and working for an entire morning, Wang Xiaoming finally understood the true meaning of this line of occupation, which was to keep calling corporations that had never been talked to before and ask that they come for training. The most awkward part wasn’t that they’d never met each other but the opening line—
“Chief so and so? We have a class here that can help improve your corporate management abilities. Why don’t you come here and take it?”
At first, Wang Xiaoming thought they were returning customers. Why else would they have such “awesome” opening lines? But after getting the dozens of cold shoulders and maybe one enthusiastic customer, he started to realize that the entire selling point of this company was its “amazingness”—it was like a bull with a pitchfork on its head; whoever landed themselves within its grasp was the stupid one3The original word used for “awesome” is 牛叉, which is internet slang. It can be used in admiration or sarcasm. The characters for the word is 牛 (cow/bull) and 叉 (pitchfork, fork), which is why the author describes the company as a bull with a pitchfork on its head. 牛叉 actually has its roots in 牛X, which is a censored version of 牛逼/NB, the original slang for being “awesome.” The X was used to censor 牛逼, and because X is also referred to as 叉叉, 牛X then became 牛叉..
During lunch, Wang Xiaoming spent two-thirds of his time picking out the meat from his lunch dishes. He swallowed the meat in two seconds and used the remaining time trying to stuff the rest of the food into his stomach.
Baal’s patience was about to dip into the negatives, especially since he hadn’t seen a single passable man this entire morning and noon—bald, beer belly, bucktooth… he’d finally learned what it meant to challenge his limits.
This negativity exploded completely in the afternoon.
After a morning filled with prayer and mental exercises, the manager returned to normal and even made sure to eat a bowl and half of rice for lunch.
Afterward, Wang Xiaoming got the rundown from the experienced coworkers. Every time there was an important guest in the afternoon, the manager would eat a bowl and half of rice to avoid having his stomach rumble during the meeting.
Wang Xiaoming asked curiously, “Does the manager’s stomach often make sounds?”
The coworker nodded, pained. “One bowl means his stomach makes a sound; two bowls mean his backdoor makes a sound.”
Wang Xiaoming asked politely, “What does it mean for his backdoor to make a sound?”
The coworker’s desire to gossip vanished as if someone had poured water over it. He adopted a nonchalant expression and said simply, “Go ask your man.”
Wang Xiaoming saw a bored Baal sitting beside him and casually asked, “Do you know?”
Baal looked at him as though he were an idiot and slowly drawled out, “A******.”
Wang Xiaoming opened his file folder and stuffed his blushing face in it.
That afternoon, the important guest arrived.
Baal’s patience crashed to a new low. He thought that if the company didn’t have anyone good-looking, then at least some guests would look fine. But it turns out that people of the same level flocked together. Of everyone, Wang Xiaoming’s face would be considered enchantingly beautiful.
Baal immediately stood up and demanded, “Go resign.”
“Ah?” Wang Xiaoming, who was about to make a call, jumped.
Luckily, he and his coworkers’ workstations were pretty far apart to avoid them disturbing each other’s calls. This meant that nobody realized that he often talked to the air.
Baal snorted out, “There’s no future here.”
He didn’t think Baal would think of his future!
Wang Xiaoming didn’t know whether the emotion welling up in his heart was worry or relief. Even though Baal was a fallen angel, he could learn how to be friendly and caring if he spent enough time with people. A gentle smile broke out on his face.
Baal stared at him. “Don’t think that you can relax just because I won’t enforce the three-day deadline.”
Wang Xiaoming’s heart twitched.
“I’ve thought about it, and there’s a place that suits you best.”
Wang Xiaoming’s heart twitched again. “Don’t say it.”
But Baal is not someone who would keep quiet just because someone asked him to. He stared at Wang Xiaoming coldly and said in a commanding tone, “Go to the Silver House!”
A beautiful face was the key to success.
“No.” Wang Xiaoming refused with a voice as quiet as a mouse’s.
Baal looked at him and a hint of coldness flashed across his eyes.
Everyone turned to look at Wang Xiaoming.
They saw his chair slam into the wall while he slowly stood up.
After experiencing their manager bash himself against the streetlamps without a word of complaint this morning, they’d developed a certain tolerance for extraordinary events. Therefore, everyone simply watched in silence. Nobody bothered with questions and none of their facial expressions showed signs of shock.
Suddenly, Wang Xiaoming jumped and then, like in the movies, his arms stretched out and he gradually shuffled towards the manager’s office.
Maybe they felt something exciting was about to happen, so the crowd kept silent.
Wang Xiaoming’s body stopped in front of the office door.
“No…” His voice was almost pleading.
But Baal has seen too many pleading faces, so this had no effect on him.
So with another bang and under the watchful eyes of the entire crowd outside the office, Wang Xiaoming rushed in fearlessly and slammed his palms against the meeting table.
The teacups on the table rattled and the tea swirled around, touching the rim of the teacup in the process.
Baal retracted the hand he used to shove Wang Xiaoming and crossed it against his chest. He watched the events unfold with a smile. He refused to believe that, under these circumstances, that idiot manager wouldn’t fire Wang Xiaoming4The original raw uses”炒他的鱿鱼”, a derivative of 炒鱿鱼 (literally: fry squid), which is slang for getting fired.
Wang Xiaoming remained standing with his palms pressed against the meeting table. His palms still retained the tingling sensation after striking the table surface. His scalp continuously prickled under the looks of shock and anger. He kept his head lowered and refused to lift it.
In the end, it was the manager who broke the silence.
He said, in what he assumed was a calm—but was actually abnormally quivering—voice, “Wang Xiaoming, what do you want?”
- 1举头望明月，/ 晨起要锻炼 is a meme-like adaptation of a famous Chinese poem. The original lines read “举头望明月，/ 低头思故乡” (“I raise my head to look at the clear moon in the sky and then lower it to think of my hometown”). Here, the manager has preserved the rhyming scheme of the lines but changed the second line to “must exercise in the morning.”
- 2关公 refers to 关羽, a character from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He is often viewed as an all-around protector and is often considered as a bringer of fortune, especially in occupation and finances. Some images depict him with a red face, which could be a result either of red used in warding off evil and/or of red being viewed as the color for loyalty.
- 3The original word used for “awesome” is 牛叉, which is internet slang. It can be used in admiration or sarcasm. The characters for the word is 牛 (cow/bull) and 叉 (pitchfork, fork), which is why the author describes the company as a bull with a pitchfork on its head. 牛叉 actually has its roots in 牛X, which is a censored version of 牛逼/NB, the original slang for being “awesome.” The X was used to censor 牛逼, and because X is also referred to as 叉叉, 牛X then became 牛叉.
- 4The original raw uses”炒他的鱿鱼”, a derivative of 炒鱿鱼 (literally: fry squid), which is slang for getting fired