An Office Story

This is what happens when you decide to find a job. You see a招聘广告 (zhāo pìn guǎng gào), job advertisement, on the Internet or in a publication, and send your 简历 (jiǎn lì), CV. Someone replies, and invites you to an 面试 (miàn shì)), interview, or more literally, “face to face test.” If you pass it, you 入职 (rù zhí), “enter the job” and start work.


Bravo! No matter what your 职业 (zhí yè), profession, is, you are now one of the “office tribe.” You are a 劳动者 (láo dòng zhě), worker, in the social sense of the word, and could become a 劳动模范 (láo dòng mó fàn), model worker, if you try really hard. You can do 脑力劳动 (nǎo lì láo dòng), intellectual work, or体力劳动 (tǐ lì láo dòng), physical work, the choice is yours.

For the former, you will more likely work in an 办公楼 (bàn gōng lóu), office building, and have your personal 办公室 (bàn gōng shì), office, or workspace. If you are not so lucky, you might work in a大开间 (dà kāi jiān), big open office, with a small 办公桌 (bàn gōng zhuō) or 写字台 (xiě zì tái), desk. Of course you will find your 办公用具 (bàn gōng yòng jù), office utensiles, on it.

In the morning, you squeeze yourself into the 地铁 (dì tiě), metro, to 上班 (shàng bān), go to work, because the subway is the fastest means of transport for many during the 上下班高峰 (shàng xià bān gāo fēng), peak hours in the morning and afternoon.

At your 公司 (gōng sī), company, or 单位 (dān wèi), work unit, a more general reference for the employer in China, you have 同事 (tóng shì), colleagues, or “people who do the same thing as you,” and 领导 (lǐng dǎo), leaders. You can call your superiors 上司 (shàng si) or 上级 (shàng jí), and those of ranks below you 手下 (shǒu xià) or 属下 (shǔ xià). You have to learn about the 等级 (děng jí), hierarchy, and how to properly address your boss – 老板 (lǎo bǎn), boss, 老总 (lǎo zǒng), general manager, or even 大老板 (dà lǎo bǎn), big boss.

They will assign you 任务 (rèn wu), tasks, and even stand over your shoulder shouting 干活 (gàn huó), work! But isn’t that what you want? Working, 开会 (kāi huì), meetings, brainstorming, 做报告 (zuò bào gào), preparing reports, 项目介绍 (xiàng mù jiè shào), project presentation, and many more, all for what? For a 工资 (gōng zī), salary, of course!

You may become a 工作狂 (gōng zuò kuáng), workaholic, and the 业务骨干 (yè wù gǔ gàn), backbone of your company. Or you may get bored and even 偷懒 (tōu lǎn), slack off. You stop being productive, so you 辞职 (cí zhí), resign, or 被辞退 (bèi cí tuì), are fired. But you have to stay in employment until you reach the age of 退休 (tuì xiū), retirement.

But the nightmare is over! 下班了 (xià bān le), it is time to go off work. Finished? No...because you have an 应酬 (yìng chóu), engagement. You had planned a business dinner to discuss a 项目 (xiàng mù), project, or to meet your 客户 (kè hù), clients. Of course, the goal is to have them sign a 合同 (hé tong), contract. If you 谈成了 (tán chéng le), strike a deal, your boss will praise you as 很能干 (hěn néng gàn), highly capable, and give you a 涨工资 (zhǎng gōng zī), payrise, or even a 升职 (shēng zhí), promotion. Well done! 恭喜发财 (gōng xǐ fā cái)! I wish you riches and prosperity!