I always make it a habit of tipping my maid. Sometimes I do it during the time I’m here, sometimes at the end. But I try to, because 100 RMB goes a long way for people in this country.

My maid this time around, I think it the same one that once made me fill out her evaluation survey at gunpoint. At least she gives the impression she remembers me. The last two days she has come by to leave me a couple of extra bottles of water and today she saw me leaving my room to go upstairs to the penthouse. She offered to clean my room right then, and I said a little something in Chinese and she told me it was very well spoken.

After hanging out up there for an hour I came back down and she was still working in my part of the corridor. My room was done and I went in and got going on some other things when there was a knock on the door. She had two more bottles of water and an apple. She told me tomorrow was her day off and that she would not see me again, I told her I would be back and that I would see her next time. She smiled and said goodbye.

I closed the door and the little wheels started turning – I debated whether it would be insulting to walk down there and hand her a 100. Finally I concluded that I just didn’t care, so I grabbed one and left the room. My door was not yet fully closed before she started thanking me. I handed her the 100 in the traditional Chinese two-handed manner and she was effusively grateful so much so that I thought she was going to cry. I told her that I wanted to offer her a little something for taking such good care of me and that normally I would leave it tomorrow, but since she was going to be gone, I would like to give it now.

I’ve never been thanked by anyone so many times by a single person, regardless of what wonderful thing I had done.

Now a cyncical person might just say I’d been suckered out of $7. And a pure-hearted person might suggest that she was completely sans guile. I don’t care one way or another, it made me feel feel good and if she’s able to spend it in some way that causes enjoyment for her, well then I have succeeded in making the world a tiny bit better this morning.

After writing the first part of this I decided to get really brave and go out and take her picture. She was extremely kind to pose, I asked her name, she told me it was Margie Huang (she pronounced it with a hard “G”) and tried a bit more Chinese with her and that was that. Another friend made.