Dear friends and colleagues,

It has recently come to my attention that translation can be a lucrative business and that some people, like simultaneous interpreters at the United Nations, charge exorbitant fees for their services.

Therefore, effective immediately, I will no longer be translating things pro bono.

Now, before you call me a cheapskate or your favorite expletive, realize that I am partly doing this for you. No longer will you have to feel guilty about asking me for help because now you will be giving me money.

So without further ado, here are the new prices for my translation services*:

Basic translation – one yuan per word
This includes anything from helping you interpret street signs to reading texts and e-mails. Please note that casual queries like, “Hey, what does this mean?” or “What’s this character here?” will automatically be billed to your account.

Also note that when translating a conversation between you and another person, I am actually translating twice: once for you and once for the other speaker. Both are billable.

If you see me on the street and need immediate translation help, please have exact change.

Ordering food – three yuan per item plus the right to eat your leftovers
A three-yuan surcharge will be added if you can only describe the dish –  “that pancake thing with the stuff inside” –and I have to guess what it is. No refunds if I guess the dish incorrectly.

Giving directions – five yuan per instance
A five-yuan surcharge will be added if I have to interact with a cab driver; 10 if I have to direct him via landmarks; 20 if he doesn’t know which way north is and I have to use phrases like, “Left,” and “No, your other left.”

Hitting on someone – free
I am happy to assist in flirting, provided I get first dibs if the seduction is successful.

Sexting – 10 yuan per text
If seduction is not immediately successful, I am able to assist in prolonged sexting. Five-yuan surcharge for every dirty double entendre.

Booking a plane ticket – 10 x n
N being, on a scale of 1 to 10, how frustrated I am at the end of the process. I will book your plane ticket for no extra charge if you invite me along. Please invite me along.

Booking a train ticket – same as above
A 300-yuan surcharge if I have go to the train station and stand in line with you. A 500,000-yuan surcharge if this is during Chunyun.

Translation packages
Many of you will choose to pay as you go, but for those with no plans to get better at Chinese I offer affordable monthly packages.

*Fine print: My work hours are 10am to 10pm, Monday through Friday. Any help provided outside this time will be billed at time-and-a-half, although I offer round-the-clock support to all Platinum Members.

If you are still mad at me
Again I must stress this is a win-win situation: I gotta earn a living, and now you have an impetus to improve your Chinese. Once your Chinese is good enough, you can stop using me and start offering translation services of your own!
Please note that these charges apply to all my Chinese friends as well. In fact, can someone help me translate this into Chinese for them? I’ll pay you.

To read more of Peking Man's views on Beijing life click here.

Photo: www.booksfromlithuania.lt


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