Wu Shuo tuo is a strong man in his late twenties working in a garment manufacturing firm in Xinyang, China. His name means, quite literally, to support or to push, and such is his job – heÂ is a fork lift operator in the factory unit 22. WuÂ has this brilliant idea of stealing garments – one or two at at time, maximum – from the packaging department. His line of thinking, very different from the general Chinese, but still human:Â one out of millions; what difference does it make? So every Saturday, after this 10-hour shift, he’d take two of the garments: one red tee with a white smile-like logo on it, another with a similar design, only black in colour, and sell them to a local market dealer, who’d then repackage and pass them on to a American Mall in uptown Shanghai market, where the tall and big people originallyÂ from half way around the globe would shop – these tees would be too big for the Chinese -Â they’d sell for $8.95 a piece, and Wu would get a commission of two yaun, sometimesÂ even three if the dealer was in a good mood. Those two were the only tees he’d ever steal, for some reason.
Claire is an English-born American who has a degree in business administration and aÂ yearning for foreign travel; she engages in a foreign assignment with one of the leading sports apparel manufacturer – the exact same one who outsources manufacturing to the factory in whose Unit 22 Wu works. SheÂ is posted as the General Manager who’d oversee these manufacturing units in China. Life is fun, amidst hot smoked and steamed dumplings and cheap labour. She has even started taking Chinese classes in order to connect with her workers, and maybe find some “local flavour” in the streets.
The era is technology driven, and lots of funny statistics can pour out if technology is implemented to capture and record everything that happens. The technology in Unit 22 was such. Two things happened: One,Â a certain SKU reported a consistent loss of inventory over a period of three weeks, which an Indian developerÂ had programmed, based onÂ detailed specifications from a certain ERPÂ solutions provider in Europe,Â to trigger an alarm in the reporting system and so, the next report that Claire received had this fact stated in a nice bullet point under “Concerns”. Two, the security cameras put in place for the perceived happiness and satisfaction of the foreigners do not distinguish between foreigners and Chinese, recording everything diligently.
Claire is practical and very technologically-savy. Putting two-and-two together, she quickly correlates the result of missing inventory to the cause, Wu stealing those two tees every week. As any ethical and yet, profit-oriented, manager would do, she calls Wu to her office. A English-Chinese translator helps her get across the rather curt decision – “The company has a zero tolerance policy for theft of any kind. In accordance with this policy, Wu is fired from immediate effect. Moreover, to make an example of this kind of inappropriate behaviour, Wu would also be reported to the authorities.”
Things move swiftly from here, and everything is a blur.
Claire returns to America, in a state of extreme depression, on the verge of complete breakdown. Only yesterday was sheÂ “apprised” by a rather eager Chinese middle-level manager that the authorities had executed Wu.
This is a work of fictionÂ and should be treated as such.Â Any consequental implications are unprecedented and I bear zero liability for them.Â Built upon a premise set in the book “Organizational Behavior”, Robbins and Judge, Twelth Edition, published by the Prentice-Hall ofÂ India Pvt. Ltd. in an Eastern Economy Edition. ISBN 978-81-203-3090-0.