dialogues between two humans

(as opposed to the opposite)

by ling’ling

number one:

Metro line 2. 人民广场. Crowded platform. Waiting for the subway.

An old man in a bright blue Mao suit jacket approaches in grey pants. His features are not rugged. He cannot be a migrant worker, but he’s definitely from the countryside. Perhaps a retired school teacher with a son who made it in 上海. He’s carrying red plastic bags with ingredients for the evening’s meal. He approaches me and brushes my forearm with the back of his hand.

he. 诶。我要到世纪大道。在哪里上?
me. 好像。。。等一下我看吧 (looking at the map above the gate)。。。您那边上吧。
he. 嗯。

I’m looking at his face and I can’t see anything to indicate he realizes who (what) he’s talking to. He gets on the metro and disappears. I can see Chinese around me as confused as I am.

number two:

常德路8123 The elevator on the left (the one that goes all the way to the basement).

He gets on at the 11th floor as we’re going down. I’ve been on since the 14th. He is green sweater, dress pants, concrete dust and the permanent smile of a man engaged in the hard labour of renovating a harmonious society one middle class apartment at a time.

he. (pointing): 什么东西那个?
me. MP3. 听音乐得。
he. (nodding): 啊,知道。

The elevator reaches the first floor and he holds the door for me. He’s probably never first off the elevator.