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avant-garde_chauvintist wandering through the garden of ideals

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CHINA | Wednesday, 9 July 2008 | Views [743]

In the U.S., I've often thought that employers try to stretch their employees too thin. Instead of being a cashier, one becomes a cashier/floor cleaner/shelf straightener/item getter/item putter away/problem solver/customer greeter. There is always another task to do, another procedure to learn, another reason to work harder and stay later.

In China, they have a ridiculously massive amount of extra people. Since I arrived, I wondered about the people doing seemingly pointless jobs or just doing nothing in a uniform.

Today, in Suzhou, the last city I will visit in China, I finally realized the beauty and horror of it all.

American and other foreign companies are no different in their use of the large population. Where one or two American employees might work, there are usually five or six Chinese ones.

Today, sitting in a coffee shop, there were four people visible at any moment. I was the only customer. One was just standing. One seemed to be the manager. Two were taking orders. I was the only customer. Two people took my order.

From time to time, two or three more appeared. They were cleaning, mopping, or doing other odd jobs.

I usedto work in a coffee shop that had its moments of business. There was never, ever more than two people working doing all of the aforementioned tasks. Knowing that it wasn't nearly too much work (I often read while at work), I can't imagine why a similar and less busy store in China should need so many employees. Even though it definitely would have been nice at closing time.

I can only imagine (with that horrific realization face) that paying five or six people in China is equivalent to paying one or two in the United States.

Yay globalization...


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