Troublesome Female Mechanic
Early the next morning, Xia Lei arrived at the machining plant of Krupp Mak Maschinenbau in Essen. It was 0740 hrs. Germans usually started work at 0800 hrs but he arrived 20 mins early in hope of giving them a good impression on his first day.
After asking around, Xia Lei found the Human Resources office. There was nobody in the office so he stood outside and waited. Neatly-dressed people walked into the office building one after the other and into different offices to start their workday.
At around 0756 hrs, a middle-aged man came to the door of the Human Resources office and Xia Lei recognised Krew though it was his first time seeing him.
“Hello, Mr Krew,” greeted Xia Lei in German.
Krew looked Xia Lei up and down and asked tentatively, “Lukas?”
Xia Lei nodded, “Yes, I’m Lukas. I’ll be in your care.”
“Come in. I’ll have to talk to you about your work,” said Krew.
Xia Lei followed him into the office. The furnishing in the office was simple; a shared workspace, some desks and a water dispenser.
Krew sat on his chair and spun half a circle to look at Xia Lei, “Have you any prior experience in machining or processing?”
Xia Lei understood him perfectly but pretended to find it difficult to process the language and paused for a few seconds before he said, “Yes, I have this area of… area of experience. Mr Krew, this is my resume. Please take a look.” So saying, he handed the prepared resume to Krew with both hands.
Krew, however, did not even glance at it, “No need to look. You’re just going to run errands for the mechanics. It’s enough for you be get familiar with the basic functions. But which mechanic should I assign you to? What a headache…”
At this moment, a woman in blue work clothes walked in. She was very young and about 180cm tall, curvy in front and back and very attractive. She was tall and her features were delicate, especially her clear, blue eyes, which were like blue gems in the great sea that drew one’s attention. And her lips - full, delicate and moist. Lips like hers made men with active imaginations want to kiss her to feel them, and as for naughtier imaginations…
A work badge perched on her chest with her job title written on it. She was a senior mechanic and her name was Annina.
Female mechanics were not rare in Germany but one as beautiful, sexy and young as her was rare, especially when she held a higher rank than most.
“Annina, to what do I owe this pleasure?” A smile appeared on Krew’s face but his smile seemed obscene. His eyes were fixed on Annina’s particularly spectacular chest as he spoke and it was clear from his actions that he was thinking dirty thoughts.
Annina frowned and said, “I’m here for personnel. My assistant has quit for a fortnight already and the company has yet to assign me a replacement. I’m doing the job of two people now. I’ll go on strike if you don’t give me an assistant today.”
Krew stood and pointed at Xia Lei, “I haven’t forgotten your matter. This is the assistant I got for you.”
You have to say that this guy reacted quickly.
Xia Lei stretched out his hand and gave her a friendly smile, “Hello, I’m Lukas.”
Annina did not reach out her hand and looked at Xia Lei questioningly, “You?”
Xia Lei retracted his hand awkwardly.
“Mr Krew, you know that I’m responsible for the maintenance of precision machinery. My previous assistant had six years of experience as a machinist. Now you’re giving me such a young person, and an Asian on top of that. Is this some sort of joke?”
“What other suitable assistant is there? There’s just this one. Take it or leave it. I can assign him to someone else,” said Krew.
“Then when will I have my assistant?”
“That I don’t know. I’m giving you this one but you don’t want him. The alternative is to wait half a year, at the earliest,” said Krew.
“You…” Annina looked mad, then she looked at Xia Lei, “Do you have the relevant work experience?”
“I have some experience,” said Xia Lei.
“I’ll put you on a three-day probation. You leave if you don’t make the cut. You have to have the ability if you want to be my assistant and if you don’t, I don’t want an assistant either.” Annina pulled no punches.
Xia Lei was not angry, “I’ll leave on my own if you’re dissatisfied.”
“Come with me.” Annina left the Human Resources office reluctantly.
Xia Lei nodded his thanks to Krew and followed Annina out.
Annina brought Xia Lei to a workshop full of people at work in work clothes. Some were cutting metal, some using lathes to process parts and some were assembling mechanical products. It was very busy.
Xia Lei thought the workshop was to be his workplace but Annina brought him past the workshop and to a single work shed at the back.
Xia Lei was surprised when the door opened and he saw a disassembled Leopard 2 tank and a dismantled tanker engine.
Annina’s work shed also had a super-precision CNC lathe, as well as cutting and welding equipment - a complete set. Looking at all the equipment, Xia Lei was struck by a thought, ‘There’s just her and myself in this place. It’ll be relatively low risk for me to steal trade secrets like this. Lucky me.’
“This is my workplace,” said Annina, “As you can see, I am mainly in charge of maintenance. Do you have experience in this?”
Xia Lei was about to say that he didn’t but thought for a bit and said, “Some. I can ease your workload.”
Annina looked him over again, “Your German’s not bad but conversational level is not enough. Can you read technical manuals?”
Xia Lei nodded, “I can understand most. Coming to Germany is my dream. I studied German on my own for three years.”
Annina casually picked up a German manual from her workstation and threw it to Xia Lei, “I don’t quite believe you. Read this aloud.”
Xia Lei flipped through the pages of the manual and started reading slowly, “This product is suitable for use in an open pit. This is a product of Krupp MaK and the company holds all rights to modify the product… Precautions…”
Xia Lei could actually read the manual smoothly but he read slowly and also made some mistakes on purpose. Long Bing had cautioned him about this and he had not forgotten.
Annina looked a little warmer when he finished reading, “Not bad. Your German is quite good to be able to read that much. Show me your skills next. You have three days. If you can get my approval in three days, you can keep your job position.”
“I’m prepared. What is my job today?” said Xia Lei.
Annina looked about for a moment, then pointed at a motorcycle parked in the work shed. “You say you have experience fixing machines. That motorcycle is mine. It works, but it’s slow and the engine sounds faulty. Can you fix it?”
Xia Lei looked at it. It was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, worth almost 300,000 yuan in China and could be said to be the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles. However, the value of the vehicle was not what mattered; what mattered was that Annina did not trust him from the start and asking him to repair the motorcycle was an obvious attempt to make things difficult for him.
Annina’s eyes held a look of scorn, “What, you don’t know how to fix it? In Germany even non-professional mechanics can fix motorcycles. You Chinese mechanics can’t even do this?”
Xia Lei could see it now - this Annina seemed to have a racist outlook and looked down on Asians.
Xia Lei had no experience at all in repairing motorcycles but Annina’s words made his temper flare and he stared straight at her with a faintly scornful smile on his lips. “Isn’t it just a motorcycle? How difficult can it be? Give me an hour and I’ll get rid of all its problems.”
“One hour?” Annina looked at Xia Lei in surprise, then laughed, “Lukas, is it? What joke is this?”
“I’m not joking,” said Xia Lei.
Annina grunted, “Lukas, you know what? This motorcycle is my transport vehicle; I ride it to work and even I am not sure what’s wrong with it. Fixing it, even for me, would first require removing the engine for a thorough inspection, then finding solutions to the problems found. What I want to tell you is that I’d need at least five hours to do so and you’re telling me you can fix all its problems in an hour. Do you mean to say that you’re better than me?”
Xia Lei replied nonchalantly, “I don’t mean to offend you but it’s just a motorcycle. I really don’t need five hours.”
Annina raised a blonde eyebrow, “Fine. I’ll put a timer on. If you can fix my motorcycle in an hour I’ll take you out for a ride, then treat you to authentic German dark beer.”
“That’s a promise,” said Xia Lei.
“Hold on,” said Annina, “If you can’t do it and go over an hour, you have to disappear from my sight. I don’t like working with ignorant people.”
“Start the timer.” Xia Lei was not going to bother wasting words on her. He carried a mechanic’s toolbox and walked towards the Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Annina glanced at the watch on her wrist and thought, ‘Arrogant punk. You think that’s a cheap Chinese motorcycle? You think you can use your hands and eyes to fix my motorcycle without professional inspection equipment? You’ll disappear from my sight in an hour!’
Xia Lei walked to the Harley-Davidson and looked quietly at its body, then locked his gaze on the motorcycle’s engine. He seemed to go into a trance afterwards and was motionless for about two minutes.
“Huh!” Annina laughed contemptuously, “What, you’re clueless? Stop blowing your own horn!”
At that moment, Xia Lei seemed to have discovered or confirmed something and started to use a wrench on the motorcycle’s engine.
“Hey!” said Annina, “My motorcycle’s worth 20,000 euro. You’ll have to pay me back if you break it!”
Xia Lei looked back at her, “Can you shut your mouth?”
Annina stared blankly.
Was this the attitude of an assistant?