Having been called out, Wang Xiaoming could no longer pretend to be a turtle in a shell. He slowly raised his head and tried hard to convey his innocence by letting tears well up in his eyes. Unfortunately, he misjudged the time and place.
It was bright and sunny outside, and the office windows were sparkling clean. The bright sunlight shone through the window without any effort and fell onto Wang Xiaoming. His eyes glistened with the tears that caught and reflected the sunlight.
From the manager’s angle, the tears became a glint in Wang Xiaoming’s eyes—that was characteristic of a scheming bastard! Did this mean that Wang Xiaoming was a corporate spy from another company? Was he here for the purpose of destroying the company’s business and reputation? Otherwise, it would be hard to explain why the man barged in just as they were about to seal the deal on a big project.
Wang Xiaoming had no idea that his imagined tearjerker drama had been turned into a corporate spy drama by the manager. He lowered his voice and said, “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
This was clearly the last moment of pretentious mercy when the final boss has gotten his way.
The manager’s heart turned cold. No wonder he had slammed into so many streetlamps this morning; it must have been the gods’ way of hinting that his brain had been broken to let a wolf into the room!
Wang Xiaoming saw that everyone remained silent, staring at him. Thus his confidence dropped lower and lower until he could only force himself to smile.
It would be better if he hadn’t smiled. For the manager, the smile only further confirmed Wang Xiaoming’s crime of being a corporate spy.
The manager held his anger in check and growled, “Who sent you here?”
Who sent him here?
Wang Xiaoming was surprised. Could it be that he knew Baal existed? How was that possible?
He subconsciously turned back to glance at Baal, only to see Baal leaning casually against the door frame as if waiting for the show to continue.
The manager saw Wang Xiaoming looking at the door and thought someone else was coming. He stood up nervously.
Wang Xiaoming jumped at the sound of the manager’s chair being pushed back and stammered out, “A-actually, I’m just here to… here to ask, if you… wanted more water?”
Why was the scene going in a different direction than he had imagined?
The manager looked at him suspiciously, as if trying to see how many more secrets and conspiracies Wang Xiaoming was hiding.
The “Beer Belly,” here to discuss a contract, finally asked, “What’s your job?”
Wang Xiaoming came back to himself and answered, “Assistant Consultant.” Basically every employee in the company had a fancy-sounding title. He had just found out that the cleaning lady’s official title was “Hygiene Department Head.”
Beer Belly looked at the manager and said, with a half-smirk, “Your company’s main product is to train top-notch corporations, find out their problems, and create more profit and value for those corporations. From where I’m standing, it seems like your company itself has problems.”
His tone was calm but his words were cutting and jabbed where it hurt.
The manager chuckled drily a couple of times. “He’s a new employee; we didn’t have time to train him yet.”
“Then the problem is with your employee’s core values.” Beer Belly reached out a hand, picked up the cup on the table, and slowly sipped at it. Then he looked at the manager, his face revealing none of his thoughts.
The manager understood that this meant the partner was waiting for him to make a decision. If he did well, they could continue discussing the partnership. Otherwise, they would go their separate ways and the last month of hard work, of bowing and scraping, would have all been for nothing.
But it wasn’t easy to handle this well.
If he fired Wang Xiaoming—as much as he wanted to—this would indirectly prove that he was not a good judge of character and had hired the wrong person. This would be a fatal blow for a company that marketed itself as a management training company.
But if he didn’t fire Wang Xiaoming, what other punishment was there? Withhold pay? It was just 800 yuan; holding back too much would be seen as cruel while holding back too little would be useless. Nevermind other punishments. He wasn’t the government and had no power to throw anyone in jail.
Though a million thoughts crossed his mind, the manager did have a few years of experience under his belt, and he successfully kept his face blank. He scolded, “Setting everything aside, knocking before entering anyone’s office is basic courtesy. You can pick up work-related things slowly, but you must know how to be a decent human!”
Wang Xiaoming thought dejectedly to himself that not only did he learn nothing during the first day of work, but he had also gotten himself yelled at, by name, twice by the manager. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon; how in line with his streak of misfortunes.
His heart didn’t so much as tremble.
The manager continued his pretentious blabbering, which contained several professional-sounding nouns and some very accurately pronounced American English words. This definitely cleared the dark clouds over the Beer Belly’s face.
“Fine.” The manager felt like he’d said enough and demonstrated his authority. He decided to let Wang Xiaoming go this time. “Go. Have Annie come in.”
Wang Xiaoming sighed in relief as if he had been spared a trial.
Baal hadn’t seemed to have anticipated things being resolved this easily. When he saw Wang Xiaoming head out of the office, he immediately started walking toward Wang Xiaoming.
He’d done the same thing in the hotel, so Wang Xiaoming didn’t bother thinking things through and ran toward the back of the meeting room.
His behavior obviously exceeded the manager’s and Beer Belly’s expectations.
Just as the Beer Belly was about to say something, Wang Xiaoming suddenly ran behind him and then stopped with a pained expression on his face.
Beer Belly jumped in surprise. He was about to move aside when Wang Xiaoming picked up the cup with difficulty and thenquickly splashed its contents at his face!
“Wang Xiaoming!” The manager almost flipped the table in his anger.
But the table remained on the ground because it was too heavy.
The water landed on target because it was light enough.
Wang Xiaoming looked at Beer Belly’s wet face and the yellow-green tea leaves dotting it. His heart plunged into ice. He didn’t have the courage to look at the manager’s face because he knew, without looking, that it would be burning with the flames of rage.
In a good mood, Baal removed his hand from Wang Xiaoming’s back.
The Beer Belly slowly turned around and looked at the manager.
The manager hurriedly appeased, “Fire him, I’ll immediately fire him!”
But Beer Belly didn’t say anything, just wiped a hand across his face. He flicked his hands so the tea leaves fell to the ground. Then he walked away without a backward glance.
The manager’s flames of anger turned into flames of anxiety. He flew forward and blocked the way, “President Cao, President Cao… this is all my fault, I’ll take responsibility. We can talk it out… don’t leave.”
The Beer Belly looked at him expressionlessly and asked impassively, “Do you want to pour a cup too?”
The manager stepped back in disappointment. He knew the situation was beyond repair.
Beer Belly’s figure quickly disappeared from the end of the hallway.
When the door opened, they could hear the squeaking of the hinges. The wind from outside blew on the manager and he felt chilled to the bone.
Wang Xiaoming stood rooted to the ground and didn’t dare look back for the longest time.
“Wang Xiaoming.” The manager finally opened his mouth.
Wang Xiaoming knew that nothing good would come out of this. So he opened his mouth and sensibly said, “Manager, I know. I really screwed up this time.” He was as wronged as the Salem witches1The original phrase in the text is “窦娥就是这么被冤的,” which translates to, “This is how Dou E was pronounced guilty when she was innocent.” This is a reference to 窦娥 (Dou E), who was a fictional character in the play “The Innocence of Dou E,” a play tracing back to the Yuan dynasty. In the play, she was falsely accused of and executed for committing murder; her innocence was proven later.
The manager didn’t say anything. The truth of the matter was that he was so angry he couldn’t say anything.
“So, manager,” Wang Xiaoming took a deep breath, “Give me a warning. I’ll remember it and never do it again.”
What was the definition of shameless?
This was the definition of shameless.
The manager had finally seen it all. Wang Xiaoming wasn’t scheming; he was just shameless2Slight play on words. To be scheming is to be 腹黑 (literally: black-bellied) and to be shameless is to be 厚黑 (literally: thick and black).
“You think I’ll still keep you on the job?” The manager swore that he had asked this sarcastically, but Wang Xiaoming answered in all seriousness, “Manager is a good guy. Plus you said that you had high hopes for me.”
“That’s because I was blind!3狗眼 (literally: dog-eyes), a colloquial way of referring to your eyes when they’ve made a mistake. 瞎了狗眼 (literally: blind dog-eyes), colloquial way of saying that you’ve mistaken a bad person for a good person (when said in an angry tone) or vice versa (when said in a mournful tone)./3” The manager finally yelled out, “Why else would I hire a traitor and fool4白眼狼 (literally: white-pupil wolf), 驴肝肺 (literally: donkey lung and kidney). 白眼狼 is often used to refer to traitors and 驴肝肺 is often used to refer to someone who throws away everything someone’s done for them. Wolves were seen as vicious animals and a wolf with a white pupil is blind, so 白眼狼 is a vicious blind animal who attacks even those who’ve been kind to it. 驴肝肺 comes from the phrase 好心被当做驴肝肺 (literally: treating good intentions as if they were the donkey’s kidney and lungs). A donkey’s kidney and lungs are the least tasty portion and were often sold cheaply, so this phrase essentially means treating something valuable as worthless. like you?”
Wang Xiaoming could only pretend to not understand the insult. He continued, “Manager, your eyes are big and round and black; definitely not dog eyes. And I’m absolutely not a traitor or a fool. I’ll prove with my actions that, manager, you made the right choice.”
Baal let out a chuckle, “Dog eyes are big, round, and black.”
If Wang Xiaoming had a knife or a fork in his hands, he would absolutely have used it to stab Baal. But he had nothing, so he could only glare at Baal with his eyes.
Baal didn’t care at all.
The manager shouted furiously, “Get the f*ck out!” As soon as the word ‘f*ck’ left his mouth, his body turned around 180 degrees and slammed straight into the wall.
Wang Xiaoming asked in pity, “Why do you keep slamming him against something?”
Baal laughed delightedly, “Don’t you think his features are flat?”
They were flat. If you covered them with short hair, the face would be no different than the back of the head. But Wang Xiaoming knew that Baal had something else in mind.
Naturally, Baal said with a smile, “I just wanted to see if I could make the world’s first ‘pie-face’ through slamming.”
Wang Xiaoming, “…”
The manager was injured on the job and went to the hospital. So everyone left work early that day.
As for Wang Xiaoming, in less than 8 hours he had become a central figure in the company lore.
The two young women who came in with him thought of him as a hero out to save the world and punish evil. Only Wang Xiaoming himself knew that he wasn’t a hero; he was more yellow-bellied than a coward5Original phrase “他不是英雄，他是比狗熊还要孬的狗熊” (literally: He was no hero, he was more of a cowardly bear than a bear). 狗熊 (bear) rhymes with 英雄 (hero) in Chinese and is often used to refer to a coward. .
He went back home, ate, took a bath, and went to bed. He remained silent the entire time.
Baal watched him with uncaring eyes and also said nothing.
Only when Wang Xiaoming had finished everything and lay down on the bed did Baal jump furiously on the bed and press down on Wang Xiaoming’s shoulders. Baal glared down from his higher position and demanded, “Can I take this to mean that you’re giving me attitude, human?”
Wang Xiaoming’s shoulders hurt under the pressure, but he gritted his teeth and refused to say anything.
Baal seemed to detect his pain and suddenly pressed down harder.
Wang Xiaoming’s pajamas were thin and he could feel the heat coming from Baal’s palms.
“Still won’t say anything?” Baal leaned down, nose almost touching Wang Xiaoming’s lips.
Wang Xiaoming heard his heart stutter for several beats and an unusual flush colored his cheeks.
Baal looked at him and thought of something, but he suddenly let go and slammed the door on his way out, leaving behind just a cold demand, “Go look for a job at the Silver House tomorrow!”