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Chinese Business, 2017

A man I’ve never met

introduces me to a woman I’ve never met.

It’s all done over the phone.

A Chinese social media app.

 

Tim—that’s his English name—

texts me in English about our plans to meet

next Monday in Southern China.

His company—and my company’s partner—

has tasked him to accompany me

while I give a presentation.

 

Tim later texts

he’s not coming.

His company will send a colleague instead.

 

Hours pass,

someone named Jody sends me an invite

I add the name to my app

An unmanageable number of Contacts.

 

S/He texts in Chinese

s/he will accompany

me

on Monday.

The app has a translator.

I don’t respond with words—although I assume s/he speaks English—

instead send an animation

two cute cartoon characters

facing backward

quickly spin forward

revealing in their grasps

two fluffy letters

O and K.

 

The texts continue in this manner

regurgitating the same things Tim and I have already,

and which he has obviously not shared;

namely,

the time, the address, where to meet,

again,

my arrival time.

I text her/him 1:10,

then send another GIF,

a photo of

a bug-eyed mad chemist

giving two thumbs up,

the background flashing

multicolored strobes.

 

Jody replies

a one-second cartoon-loop

a bunny dancing.

There are Chinese characters imbedded down the side,

but the phone can’t translate these.

 

But it doesn’t matter.

And that’s that.

Done.

 

I put down the phone

and consider a moment,

how conveniently alone we’ve become.

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