Today the temperature dropped down enough that it was not painful to be outside. I sat at the regular eating little and slowly demolishing pint after pint of beer. One of the waiters came over and sat down, and we spent a while discussing his decision to quit his job and become an air purifier salesman. He is under pressure from his wife to make more money to support their newborn, and the stress of the career change was showing in his face.
After a while, one of the chefs came over for a few beers and started asking me about Europe. He was going to Sweden, he said, having been hired to work in a chinese restarant in a China Town over there. We talked about the good things about Sweden: the environment, blonde white girls with pointy faces; and the bad things: the prices, the blonde white girls with pointy faces, and the winter. He asked me a few leading questions about passports and visas, and then it came out. His boss was organizing a 3 month tourist visa for him, in order to get in to the country, and then when his visa had run out, he was to overstay it until the place got busted by the police. At which point, he happily informed me, the Swedish government would pay for the journey back to his home town for him.
I wanted to tell him that the 2,000 quid a month salary might not materialize, that the process of leaving Sweden might be harder than he realized, and that never ever ever trust a Chinese man, especially if he has complete control over every aspect of your life; but then, he enthusiastically reeled off all kinds of information about Sweden, its population, its climate, what they like to eat and this and that about their history. This was all very elementary stuff to me, but, he was so excited about the prospect’ and had done what was to him so much research, that I just could not bring myself to prick his bubble.
Maybe, just maybe, this might be the best thing that happens to him. A couple of months in an alien country working hard and making friends, before being confined to restaurant accomodation after his visa runs out and until he is busted by the police; an interesting detention period before he is dumped at some random city in China that has an airport, and then stories to tell his friends and family for the rest of his life when he is back in his village.