Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Crack in the Wall

By Philip Gardocki

In the early 1980’s, at the same time I was attending a class for a digital imaging X-Ray system, there was another class populated by six mainland Chinese. Their government had bought some CAT scanners and sent some people to school to learn how to maintain them.

One of the first things we noted about this group was that two were always dressed in green and four were always dressed in grey. After time went by, we noted that the four dressed in grey did not know much but were learning. Those dressed in green didn’t know anything and never learned anything. All six men were married and had one child each.

We were amused of their misconceptions they had about us and set about to dissolving as many as we could. A big issue they brought up was about food. They believed that the CIA built the supermarket that was visible from their hotel.

"Why would the CIA do that?" we asked.

"To convince us there were no food riots."

"What food riots?"

And they actually said this, "There is no way a capitalist society can grow enough food to feed itself."

A consensus was reached that there was no way we were going to overcome this a lifetime ingrained indoctrination without some serious visual aids. After all, we were obviously all in the employ of the CIA and duty bound to convince these men that all was well with our capitalist society. So, we took them on a road trip.

We got in their minivan and took them to a different supermarket and then another, and another, and another. Eventually, we asked, "Do you think the CIA built all of these?"

Most of them looked down, not willing to admit that they were convinced, but one offered a half hearted counter argument, "If you Americans have so much to eat, then why do you eat potatoes?"
This question took us back. "Why do you say that?"

"Because potatoes are what we feed the pigs, and only the poorest peasants eat potatoes."

Now it was our turn to be embarrassed. Our only possible reply was, "We like potatoes."

Epilog. I believe we convinced them we were for real and one of them even became a Cleveland Indians fan. After they returned to China, Glen would send a newspaper to him every week, so he could keep up to date on his team. The Chinese censors dutifully snipped anything offensive out of the world, local and political sections of the paper before delivering it. After two years of this, Glen received a letter.

Glen,
          You can stop sending me the paper. They figured out why I was getting it, and now they just snip out the baseball section.
Chang

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