In the early morning at a small Chongqing city inn, some lodgers already get washed for their day's outing. In room 608, Liu Ximei, an elderly woman from northern Hebei Province traveling all the way to the southwestern city, sits next to the bed, picks up her mobile phone and dials a series of numbers starting with 158, just as she did over the past month. The call gets through, but nobody answers.
At a small Chongqing city inn, Liu Ximei shows a plastic bag that contains others' leftovers she has eaten in recent days. [Photo: Chongqing Morning Paper]
Liu tried to persuade her son to take a job at a state-owned enterprise in their hometown, but the 27-year-old young man, hoping to live life his own way, refused and stayed in Chongqing after graduation, which sparked a three-year fight between them.
According to the mother, a job with a state-owned enterprise offers a guarantee for a steady and better life in the future. Liu has 3 kids and her second son, born in 1985, is her favorite.
"From childhood on, he did so well in school that he was admitted to a key university in Chongqing at the age of 18," Liu said beaming with pride.
In the same year Ran started his college life, his elder brother graduated from a college and entered the Hebei-based branch of the China Railway 22nd Construction Bureau Co., a state-owned enterprise where their father works.
Liu was happy with the eldest son's job and was confident that "there will be no problem for a key university graduate with a good major, like her clever younger son, to find a job in a state-owned enterprise."
It was always her and her husband's hope for the three kids to get a secure job with a state-owned enterprise.
Things took an unexpected turn however, when that hope triggered an "irreconcilable" conflict between her and the younger son, the mother said.
In 2009, Ran started job hunting after graduation, when his mobile phone became a hotline for his parents. "We exhorted him to find a secure regular job more than one time," Liu said. "Their father's company admits kids of its employees but the quota had run out by then."
Since then, Ran has objected to his parents' job hunting wishes. After repeated consultations with other family members, he chose to stay in his university city, where he got an offer from a local business company.