Who am I?


“You need to get some business cards mate.”
I look across the room in his office and raise an eyebrow at Ray.
“You know I’m not working for quite a while yet.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…. But everyone has them here, personal ones and then one for every business they’re involved in.”
“Yeah right”, I nod, thinking what I would put on a business card now.
After fifteen years in the IT world I’m taking a break from normal working life to explore what the rest of the world has going on.  I wouldn’t call myself an IT Professional right now, but what can I put on the card instead? How do I define myself now? Who am I when I’m not working?

I must look particularly confused as I ponder this, because Ray continues,
“Hey, just put your name and your Chinese mobile number, maybe your email if you want.  You’ll find it really handy when you meet anyone here.  Seriously, everyone does it, check out mine.”
Ray produces his work and private cards and I read through them slowly, considering the layout and content to decide what I would put on it.  Ray works for an Australian based company that builds architectural models.  He’s one of those guys who is a genius with his hands, he can do anything, make anything and do both unbelievably well.  If he can picture it, he can produce it.  So he used to work for these guys making the models, but now it’s all about running quality control on the Chinese factories that do a lot of work now.

None of this is really helping with my newfound identity crisis.  Maybe I can say I’m an Abalone diver.  Apparently they do alright and it sounds like a cool job title.  But Chinese people might take me too seriously and try to get me to work for them doing that.  So I need something that sounds good, but gives me freedom to move; something that will explain to the people of China who I am and what I do.  Maybe I’m a writer.  That’s a great profession for travellers with no particular date to return home.  Then no-one will question why I’m wandering aimlessly around China.  I like the sound of it and look up again.
“Okay mate, you talked me into it …. so how can I get them made?”
“Ahh..too easy…”
He bundles over to his assistant Jessica and asks her if she can organize it for me.  She comes over with a card and a pen and asks me to write what I want to have on it.  I have a new inspiration as the pen touches my hand and I fill in all the details.
“Do you want me to translate it into Chinese too?”, she asks.
“I suppose I do…oh I already have a Chinese name that this crazy girl I travelled with in Australia gave me.”
I do my best impression of it and she eventually recognises and adds it.
“And what’s this?”, she asks pointing to my new identity.
“That’s my job, just put it somewhere on the card.”
She looks confused, but smiles and does it without understanding; as the Chinese do.  I ask for it to be on a red card with gold letters (I’ve heard that’s particularly auspicious in China) and she heads off to the shop downstairs that makes them.  She calls back to tell me the ‘gold’ they have looks like a bad yellow.  I choose to use black writing instead.  I always liked red and black together.

Two hundred cards arrive later and I pick the one from the top of the stack to give to Ray.
“Here ya go mate, you can have the first one.”
Ray looks at it and reads it through then starts chuckling and looks up at me smiling.
“Nice one, that works.”
There in the bottom right corner in english and chinese are the words I’ve chosen to tell the people of China who I am.
“Crazy Penguin.”

Business Card


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