China Elevator Stories

“How Much Do You Earn?”

I chat with a 17-year old girl who works as a massage therapist on the second floor of a  hair salon in Shenzhen.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


After having talked about our families, she asks me: “How tall are you? One meter seventy-something?”
I tell her: “I’m exactly 170.”
“You could be a model.”
“Working as a model would be too exhausting, I’m pretty happy with the job I have.”

She asks: “What’s your job?”
“I work as a graphic designer.”
“That’s a great job. How many hours do you have to work a day?”
“8. How about you?”
“We have to work more than 12 hours a day.”
“Wow, that must be really exhausting.”

She answers: “It is. How much do you earn? Your salary must be really high, I guess.”
After I tell her, I ask: “How much do you earn?”
“A little bit more than 2000 RMB (around 250 EUR or 325 USD). Do you live closeby?”
“I do. How about you?”
“We live in a dormitory closeby. Our employer pays for it.”
“How many people share a room?”
I mistake four for ten, because the words sound similar in Chinese, so I ask her: “Ten?”
She says: “No, four.”
“I see. Four is still okay I guess. At least it’s better than 10, isn’t it?”

Have you ever had a conversation with a massage therapist?

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