Chapter 20: To Learn
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
What Xiao Zhao said was like a bucket of cold water, it soaked Li Sui completely. “Where are you now? I will meet with you, bring me to the port to look for Lu Shang. I can’t reach him.”
Xiao Zhao could hear the anxiousness in Li Sui’s voice, he said, “Lu Lao Ban is a careful person, he will be fine. You should calm down.”
Li Sui knew very well he was overreacting, but no matter what, he just couldn’t calm himself. The scene of Lu Shang leaving this morning replayed in slow motion in his mind. Li Sui suddenly remembered a saying, whenever people part ways, the tiny details of their last seconds would become especially clear. That thought fueled his anxiousness, he really wanted a pair of wings, then he could fly to the port and find Lu Shang.
The rain was pouring heavily outside, the whole city plunged into darkness. Li Sui couldn’t idly sit around any longer, he took out a set of rain equipment and rushed out the door. There were no longer pedestrians on the streets, only a few soaked stray dogs dashed across the fields. Li Sui heard nothing but rain and wind. The rain had an oceanic scent, it was salty and bitter. Blown by the wind, raindrops slashed onto Li Sui’s face. Li Sui was out here for less than five minutes and was already soaking wet, he never knew that typhoons on a tropical island were so terrifying.
Li Sui walked on the streets with difficulty, finally he was able to hire a taxi.
Hearing where Li Sui wanted to go, the driver looked taken aback. “Look, kid. It’s not that I don’t want to bring you there, but the place you are going to is very close to the sea. That’s very dangerous.”
Li Sui took out a stack of cash, handing it to the driver, “Is this enough?”
Taxi drivers that would work even in this weather, were either thrill seekers or people who are in real need for money. As expected, the driver hesitated, finally deciding to drive Li Sui there.
The driver didn’t dare go too fast since there were small pieces of rock and sand in the wind, they made terrifying sounds when they collided with the windshield. Both of them were tense, the driver didn’t like the mood, so he turned on the music and began chatting with Li Sui, so that he could relax himself as well. “With this weather, everyone’s hiding at home. Why do you want to go to the port?”
“Oh my. Must be a family member, right?”
Li Sui paused, then he replied “hm” lightly.
“It will be fine, I’m sure that person is safe.” The driver comforted Li Sui.
The rain didn’t show any signs of subsiding and they drove all the way to somewhere near the port, but before they got there, they were stopped by the traffic police.
“You can’t enter.” The traffic police said.
“I’m just going to find a person.” Li Sui replied.
“No one’s in there, all the people evacuated. Turn back.”
“What about at the sea?”
“Today, no ships departed after three, all the ships that departed before that are accounted for. Whoever you’re trying to find is not here. Turn back!”
Li Sui froze, the driver didn’t know what to do either. At that moment, Li Sui’s phone rang, it was from Xiao Zhao.
“Xiao Li…why is it so noisy at your end?”
Li Sui immediately closed the taxi door, “What’s wrong?”
“Liu XingMing just called, he asked me to pick them up from the International Hotel. Lu Lao Ban is there too, don’t worry.”
Li Sui felt all four of his limbs go limp, “He…”
“They didn’t go out to sea at all, seeing that the weather wasn’t good, they only went to the construction site. Where are you now? Why do I hear the rain? Don’t tell me you actually went out to find him?”
Li Sui swallowed, “I see. Thank you.”
“What’s the matter? Did you find the person you’re looking for?” The driver asked.
Li Sui nodded, he kept thinking that Lu Shang would definitely be here on the way. He wasn’t thinking clearly, in his mind, he only wanted to come as soon as possible. Li Sui felt like an idiot, he was angry, but he was also relieved.
The driver saw Li Sui’s expression, it was like he wanted to cry but also laugh. The driver tried asking, “So what now? Are we heading back?”
“Go to the International Hotel.”
As if the weather was fighting with them, when they arrived at the hotel, the rain had mostly stopped. The wind was still strong, but it was a lot weaker than when Li Sui went out. However, the temperature seemed to have dropped, Li Sui shivered as he got out of the taxi.
Li Sui’s hair was mostly dry because of the wind, but his clothes were still soaking wet, mud and water stuck to his trousers. He got out of the taxi in a complete mess. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lu Shang standing at the entrance of the hotel, holding a champagne glass. He was talking with some people, it seemed like he was bidding farewell to the guests.
Li Sui suddenly recalled the farewell party; the board members were holding a farewell party for Lu Shang. As if he just got his brain back, he hesitated and didn’t go over.
The person standing at the entrance noticed him, seeing Li Sui, a rare, startled expression surfaced on Lu Shang’s face. Lu Shang scanned Li Sui carefully and asked, “Why did you come here?”
Li Sui stared at Lu Shang from afar, his eyes turned red. As if he was wronged but also glad. In that second, Lu Shang could sense that this person staring at him, this person wanted to jump and hug him. Only that, due to the crowd, he couldn’t.
The wind was still blowing strong, a corner of his blazer flew up as Lu Shang walked over to Li Sui. He rubbed Li Sui’s soaked clothes and asked with concern, “What’s wrong?”
Li Sui shook his head, as if a ball of cotton was in his throat, he couldn’t utter a sound.
Lu Shang didn’t ask anymore, he just held his hand and passed through the crowd, bringing him to a private room on the second floor. The hotel workers quickly brought a dry change of clothes to them. Li Sui changed into the clothes and sat on a chair, letting Lu Shang blow his hair dry with a drier.
“Where’s your phone? Why didn’t you pick up?”
Lu Shang answered while fiddling with Li Sui’s hair, “My phone’s out of battery, I didn’t bring it with me. Did you forget?”
Li Sui choked a bit, then he said sulkily, “Then you can at least bring a spare phone.”
The corners of Lu Shang’s mouth lifted slightly, “I was with manager Liu all that time, if you want to find me, you could’ve called him.”
Finally, Lu Shang knew why this kid looked so spiritless. This was the first time Li Sui sulked in front of Lu Shang, it was also very likely the last time. While Lu Shang felt blissful, he was also a bit touched, he never knew Li Sui valued him so much that one unanswered phone call was able to wreck his mind.
Lu Shang had a small hunch, it seemed like things were already developing into a direction he couldn’t control.
“Director Lu, are you inside?” Someone knocked on the door.
Lu Shang turned the hair drier off, “Yes?”
“It will be your turn to speak on stage soon.”
Li Sui sneezed then he sniffed his nose.
“Did you catch a cold?” Lu Shang combed his hair, tidying it.
Li Sui shook his head, “I’m fine, it was cold outside, that’s all. I will be great again after sleeping, you should go.”
Lu Shang could hear his stuffy nose. Running around in the storm and standing in the freezing wind, all the while worried and anxious, it must have been hard. Now that Li Sui finally saw Lu Shang and loosened up, all the little problems came out immediately. Remembering how Li Sui stood at the entrance with a pair of puppy dog eyes made Lu Shang feel guilty. He looked a lot like an abandoned German Shepard puppy who just found his owner again. Moreover, he was solely responsible for not picking up the call.
A bunch of people were waiting outside, Lu Shang walked to the door, then stopped. He turned back and asked, “Do you want to learn?”
Li Sui curled up in the coat and paused for a bit.
“To manage a company, do you want to learn how?” Lu Shang asked.
Li Sui finally came to his senses and realized, there might not be another chance. He sat straight and replied, “I want to.”
“Good.” Lu Shang said with a deep voice, “Starting tomorrow, I will teach you myself.”
When Lu Shang said he would teach Li Sui, it wasn’t just talk. The next day, when they got off the plane, they headed to the bookstore. They brought a bunch of new books home, there were both Chinese and English ones.
“You already have some basic knowledge, so now focus on remembering the academic principles.” Lu Shang flipped the books opened, he marked the content with a red pen. “The chapters marked with the red circles are the ones you should focus on. I will teach you the details after you read through them.” After saying that, he handed the books to Li Sui.
To cram ten years of knowledge into a specialized, elite course, required an innate gift. But more than that, it required hard work, it would be a huge challenge to one’s patience and perseverance.
“You are a clever person, but it is impossible to manage a company without the required knowledge.” Lu Shang smiled, “It takes time.”
Li Sui’s cold wasn’t healed completely yet, he swung his dizzy head away from the pile of books, asking, “You have read all these books before?”
Lu Shang leaned on the back of his chair, he randomly flipped open a book with the title <<Management>>, “When I was your age, I was already applying for my MBA.”
From that day onwards, Li Sui never took another afternoon nap. He would wake up at five thirty in the morning to memorize principles and equations, he would also read all kinds of business examples at night, practicing English even at the dining table. Lu Shang had work in the morning and in order to teach Li Sui personally, he had to go back home from the company during his breaks. Li Sui was always afraid that Lu Shang would exhaust himself, so he would listen very attentively, sometimes even asking questions.
Lu Shang had his own method in teaching, he seldom spoon-fed knowledge directly, he would try to lead Li Sui. Suggesting an idea, then guiding Li Sui through the deduction process. Li Sui would reach the conclusion on his own, so it was efficient and memorable. Normally, except for lessons, Lu Shang wouldn’t intervene in Li Sui’s study. It was only when Li Sui was stuck at a dead end would Lu Shang give him some pointers.
Today, there were some problems in the company, so Lu Shang came home late. Li Sui had been reading for the whole day, so his questions piled up into a mountain. The second Lu Shang came home, Li Sui pounced at him. “I understand the relationship between supply and needs, but how do I link it to the real situation in life? Also, that number I calculated before seems a bit weird. And, and the Math problem this morning, I solved it, am I right? Did I do it correctly?” After bombarding Lu Shang with the questions, he found Lu Shang sitting on the sofa, rubbing his forehead. Li Sui froze and asked concerningly, “Are you tired?”
Lu Shang smiled lightly, the eyebags under his eyes were so evident, “I’m fine.”
“I think we should rest.”
Lu Shang shook his head, “Sit.” After saying that, he took Li Sui’s book and began answering each of Li Sui’s questions in detail.
It was already late at night, the light bulb in the living room was just changed recently, it gave a soft yellow glow. When shone on Lu Shang, it made him look sluggish and soft at the same time. Li Sui stared at Lu Shang’s slightly lowered eyelashes, for the first time, he found himself lost in Lu Shang’s deep and slightly exhausted voice.
“…so, remember the equation you asked about before? You can use that to get your answer for this question—— whatever are you looking at?”
“Uhh, I…” Li Sui froze, he saw Lu Shang’s gloomy gaze. He lowered his head in shame, “Sorry.”
Lu Shang laughed lightly, “Am I that nice on the eyes?”
Li Sui glanced at Lu Shang, he wasn’t sure which nerve in his brain snapped but his mouth just moved on its own, “Yes, very…”
Lu Shang didn’t expect Li Sui to actually reply, “Even better looking than the books?”
Li Sui didn’t reply this time, he just affirmed it in his heart. In his heart, he screamed, You have no idea how good looking you are!
“Fine. I will explain it to you again, don’t lose focus this time.”
After Lu Shang explained everything, it was way past midnight. They practiced a bit of speaking, then it seemed like Lu Shang was even more exhausted. He still sat on the sofa, but leaned his head on Li Sui’s shoulder.
Li Sui knew he must be feeling pain in his chest again, so he didn’t dare move a muscle. Li Sui relaxed his shoulders so that Lu Shang could lean on him more comfortably.
“Li Sui.” Lu Shang asked with his eyes closed, his tone was calm, “Is studying hard?”
“No, it’s not.”
Li Sui smiled softly as he placed his hand under Lu Shang’s chin, letting Lu Shang rest on it as a cushion, “Living up till now was hard enough. What is there that’s harder and more intolerable than that?”
Li Sui was describing his own experiences, but Lu Shang sounded like he had been through the same. He said lightly, “Yes, that’s right…”
The two of them stayed in that position for a while, Lu Shang didn’t say more, his breathing was also quiet. Li Sui thought he was asleep, so he bowed down to hook up Lu Shang’s legs. Just when he lifted his whole body up, Lu Shang opened his eyes.
“Let’s go to sleep?” Seeing that he was awake, Li Sui planned on putting him back.
But Lu Shang just tilted his head, shutting his eyes again. He murmured languidly, “Don’t wanna walk.”
Li Sui froze as his fingers tightened. With huge, light strides, he headed to their bedroom. His mouth forming a bright smile, “Hm.”
In the morning, Lu Shang finished a bunch of paperwork that was piled in the office. Uncle Yuen entered to find Lu Shang leaning on the chair and watching a TV broadcast. That piqued his interest. Lu Shang didn’t normally surf the internet; he was never interested in TV shows either. There were only work-related documents on Lu Shang’s computer, he couldn’t even find a single extra photo in it. For some reason, a person like that was suddenly interested in the TV.
“Assistant Xe wants to have a meeting with you this afternoon, are you going?”
Lu Shang lifted his head from the screen and replied, “Going.”
Uncle nodded, when he left, he intentionally slowed his pace to look at what Lu Shang was watching. It was a parent support broadcast about teenage problems.
With the intense studying in recent days, Li Sui’s appetite naturally went up, stuffing three bowls of rice for dinner. His mouth was stuffed full as he spoke, “When can I graduate from my apprenticeship?”
Lu Shang picked up a piece of chicken and gave it to Li Sui, smiling, “When you can spot the problem from that financial statement that day, then I’ll let you off the hook.”
Before sleeping, Li Sui lay on the bed to read. After waking up early in the morning for consecutive days, he was quite exhausted, so he kept dozing off as he lay on the bed. Lu Shang walked over and lightly knocked on his head, “Are you sleepy?”
Li Sui crawled up, rubbing his eyes.
Seeing that Li Sui couldn’t even keep his eyes open; Lu Shang pulled his book away and hurried him to bed.
“I’m going to read a bit more.” Li Sui refused.
“There’s no hurry. Don’t make a habit of this inefficient practice.” Lu Shang tried comforting him while preparing the bed, “Come, I will tell you a story.”
“What story?” Li Sui immediately regained some energy.
Lu Shang took out the medicine from the bedside drawer, he swallowed it and laid on the bed himself. Turning the lights off, he asked, “If you want a dirty, messy employee to tidy himself up when on duty, what would you do?”
Li Sui thought for a while, “I will order him to do so.”
“What if he doesn’t listen?”
“Deduct his salary.”
Lu Shang smiled at the simple answer.
“Am I wrong?” Li Sui asked.
“Correct. This is also how most companies in the mainland operate.” Lu Shang continued, “Apart from that, do you have other ideas?”
Li Sui considered for a while, “Make him get a girlfriend.”
Lu Shang was amused again, this time he directly laughed. They were too close; Li Sui could feel the slight vibrations coming out of his lungs. His heart trembled in the darkness.
“What are you laughing at?” Li Sui tried regulating his tone and expression, he felt his acting had improved a lot recently.
“Explain your answer.”
Li Sui’s face turned serious, he justified his answer, “No matter how useless a person is, if he were to meet someone who could motivate him to change for the better, then even he would improve.”
It was a sly answer with a hidden message, Lu Shang could comprehend what he was insinuating, but he decided to ignore that “In other words, you would give him incentive to change.”
Li Sui affirmed while feeling a little dejected.
“You’re correct. In this world, if you want someone to act according to your wishes, there are only two methods. One is punishment, another is award. No matter what kind of tactics stem from these two bases.” Lu Shang continued, “Just like with this messy employee. If you want him to be tidy every day, you could order him to do so, then punish him if he doesn’t listen. Or, you could praise him.”
“Praise? How do you praise someone like that?”
“No matter how messy that person is, there will still be days when he’s relatively tidy. You should praise him when that happens, praise him so much that, he’d start feeling sorry for himself. Then he won’t dare showing up messy again.”
Li Sui turned his little head, “What if he is a thick-skinned person?”
“Then that person might be a great talent in retail.” Lu Shang smiled, “This is the second thing I want to tell you. Do you know how many interns trip at the thickness of their skin? If you want to be a good businessman, you will have to strip yourself of hubris and emotions.”
Li Sui asked, “So you are saying that I should have a thick skin?”
Lu Shang laughed and continued to explain, “What I mean is, don’t let your face become an obstacle in making decisions. You need to know how to refuse people.”
Li Sui nodded, then Lu Shang continued, “Back on the main subject. Teaching should be done according to individual aptitudes, the same goes for using people. When do you use punishment, when do you reward them, and when to use both. All of these depend on the person you are using them on. So,” Lu Shang said with a serious look, “except for the knowledge written in books, there’s one more thing that you must understand.”
“The human heart.”
Li Sui faltered a bit.
Lu Shang held onto his hands under the blanket, he squeezed them softly, then signed, “Li Sui. I will teach you how to discern the human heart, but that’s in case if anyone wants to harm you. With that you won’t be passive in the face of other’s malice, it’s not so that you can harm others. You must know the human heart but mustn’t toy with them. You are an honorable man that deserves the world, you should engage in noble acts. Life is limited, utilize the short time you have for good. I want you to always bear these words in mind.”