The World of Chinese - - Dragon's Digest -

We’d moved to yet an­other new city. In the mat­ter of rent­ing an apart­ment, I only had one re­quire­ment: There had to be a lot­tery shop down­stairs. Ev­ery­thing else was up to my girl­friend.

She thought there was a lot else that could be done with 2 Rmb—buy a spoon to use for a year, a pack of tis­sues to use for three days, a bot­tle of wa­ter to drink for a day, or even just blast the air con­di­tioner all night. Why waste it on a day­dream? With the money I’d spent on lot­tery tickets, I could have al­ready bought a new im­ported oven; in­stead, I’d not even won enough to buy a slice of bread.

We’d had a big ar­gu­ment about this. How­ever, af­ter we found a new apart­ment, I found there was a ticket shop right down­stairs. Of course, this wasn’t be­cause my girl­friend had had a change of heart—these stores are ev­ery­where, like trash cans on the street.

The land­lord promised to get us a sec­ond-hand re­frig­er­a­tor and a sec­ond­hand wash­ing ma­chine. On the third day, the de­liv­ery guy called me up.

“Boss, what day do you want your fridge?” “Uh, this af­ter­noon.” “Oh? Boss, I might not be able to make it; is to­mor­row morn­ing OK?” “Sure.” “Boss, please tell me your ad­dress.” “I’ll send you an SMS.” “Sorry Boss; I can’t read texts.” I told him my ad­dress, and told my girl­friend the fridge and washer would be ar­riv­ing next day.

“The floor’s cov­ered in laun­dry, and they don’t come un­til to­mor­row!”

“The guy’s just the de­liv­ery guy, he was re­ally po­lite to me, call­ing me ‘Boss.’ And the weather’s so hot. It’s not an easy job.”

“Oh, so he calls you ‘Boss’; that’s great!”

I felt bad, so I thought I’d buy the de­liv­ery guy a bot­tle of some­thing to drink when he came the next day.

At noon, he called, say­ing he was al­ready on the way. I went down to the com­pound’s gate to wait for him. I’d bought a drink, but he hadn’t ar­rived yet, so I went to the lot­tery shop.

The owner was an over­weight mid­dle-aged man. He was ly­ing asleep on the couch with his shirt off, a palm-leaf fan in his left hand rest­ing on his chest. As his snore kicked up in in­ten­sity, the fan dropped from his hand.

It didn’t look like he was go­ing to wake up, and the de­liv­ery guy wasn’t there yet, so I looked at the trend charts on the wall, be­gin­ning my re­search. I’m quite good at re­search­ing lotteries, and know all the key terms: Kill num­bers, emits, even-odds, size, space, pass counts, se­ri­als, sum values, heat, skip dis­tance, tail num­bers…i can talk for an hour with the boss of any lotto shop, even though I’ve never won any­thing.

The de­liv­ery guy called. He was at the com­pound gate, and I said I’d

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