Friday, July 03, 2009

Bonding made possible by cardboard boxes

What do you do with a pile of empty flattened cardboard boxes? You recycle it of course, and in China recycling is theoretically easier than almost anywhere because someone, somewhere out there, wants what you have. When we lived here before, all we had to do was put something outside our door and it was gone within 1/2 hour. People would rifle through our stuff, keep what they wanted, and pass the rest on. I was curious to see what would happen the time I left some old maternity clothes out. I fully expected to see some old man walking around in the courtyard wearing them. You have to hand it to the Chinese - nothing is wasted here.

But in our new complex, the standards are a bit higher. I was shocked the day I left a bunch of plants down in the basement near our lift for several hours and no one disturbed them (this was before I killed them). Last night I put the 30 or so boxes outside our door and no one touched them. More surprising, no one objected to them taking up the hallway. But they had to go, and Erik told me there was a place on the east side of our car park where we could dispose of them.

So Ethan, my new maid, and I dragged them into the lift and down into the basement. There we found a shopping cart (a very small shopping cart) onto which we piled the boxes as best as we could. By the end of the car park, Ethan was pushing, and my maid and I were both trying to keep the boxes from falling off. We pushed the cart up to the street and out to the gate, where we hit a speed bump and my maid, myself and the cardboard kept going while Ethan stopped. We were laughing pretty hard by that point. We managed to drop it all next to a man sleeping on his cart. We yelled at him a few times until he woke up, assessed our pile of cardboard, and offered us five kuai for it. That's less than a dollar.

My maid tried to argue with him a bit, saying that we'd dragged it all through the carpark and it was an extremely hot day. He told her to go use the five kuai and buy an ice cream. I looked at all of us, covered with sawdust from the boxes, dripping a bit from the heat, and thought, "Wow. Well, at least we got rid of the cardboard."

I'll tell ya though - nothing bonds you with a new Chinese helper like struggling with a load of recyclable goods.


Six Wilsons said...

The way you worded it at first I thought you were saying Ethan was your new maid! Ha!
So, how long has she been with you? Does she stay with you or just come for the day? How's it going? I bet it was great to get som good laughs with her though, probly made things a little easier. So, did you get an icecream???

Four Buttons said...

Ahh, you have a new maid, such a typical expat lah! he he :) how's it all going? 1 dollar is a lot of money for 30 boxes, what a tremendous deal! I know what you mean about the chinese taking anything left outside, we used to set stuff outside our house in Sing and then watch from our window to see how fast it would go, and it always went within the first hour, how did they know about this stuff so fast? I have a theory involving a phone tree and nosy locals...hmmmm :) glad to see your boxes are unpacked, post pics of your new place asap!!!

Gina Marie said...

Our maid just started last Wednesday. Maids are not live in here, so she just comes Mon-Fri from around 8:30-4. It's going pretty well, although it hasn't been that long. We did not get an ice cream. I gave one kuai to Ethan for helping. I tried to give two to my maid but she refused it.

And Lindsey, I wish I could say that it was boxes from our move that we were taking out, but our shipment hasn't even left Singapore yet!! They couldn't ship until they had our visa paperwork, which wasn't completed until last Friday. The shipment will be here around July 17. The boxes were from the wood laminate we put down over the UGLY tile.