96. It's Just Business

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May was hoping to broker cigarette lighters in America. Her friend said that Mr. Wang was a big manufacturer in China. She gave May Mr. Wang's phone number. May called Mr. Wang, and invited him to Los Angeles. She arranged several meetings between Mr. Wang and some US wholesalers. Because he did not speak English, she was the interpreter at the meetings. Mr. Wang promised to give May a commission for whatever business deal was made and for all future orders.

The first three meetings were unproductive. The last meeting was with a Chinese wholesaler. He spoke Chinese, so there was no need for May to interpret his remarks. She sat there throughout the meeting and listened. The two men discovered that they both had grown up in Guiyang, a large city in southwest China. At meeting's end, no deal was made. Everyone shook hands.

May and Mr. Wang walked out to her car. Then Mr. Wang said that he had forgotten something. He excused himself and walked back to the office. May waited a moment. Then, suspicious, she snuck back to the office and heard the two men making a deal behind her back. Mr. Wang was cutting her out of her commission.

May went back out to her car and waited. Mr. Wang was whistling as he returned to the car. He apologized for making her wait. She said it was no problem. Then she drove Mr. Wang back to his hotel. He thanked her for her help, and said he was returning to China the next day. She didn't say anything about what she had overheard. She went home and tried not to cry about what had just happened—she must be strong.


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