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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 4, December 2014

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Thomas Chockley
Plainfield, Illinois, USA


Getting By

Chongqing, China nine years ago. I was fascinated by the hard-working porters. Most of us called them "bang-bang men." I was told the nick name came from the bamboo pole (a "bang" in Chinese) that they used to carry heavy loads across their shoulders. They were real entrepreneurs, enterprising and sometimes ruthless.

For the first leg of our journey home my wife and I took a river boat to Shanghai. Imagine two suitcases apiece loaded with a year's worth of clothes and Chinese mementoes and hand luggage for each of us. At the docks two bang-bang guys made it clear that they could carry our cases to the boat. I looked at the stairway down to the boat, and we quickly set the price. It would cost 30 Yuan for each of the four large suitcases and 20 apiece for the hand luggage pieces. Translation: about $23 dollars total in those days. The enterprising leader of the duo took all four of the suitcases on his pole and left the two pieces of hand luggage for his colleague.

bony dragon
down to a thin-soled
string of cash

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