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.Albuquerke is in the Western Corridor, water is a constant problem and Ms.Ngyuen, and I talk water all the way to the headquarters.I expect something dramatic like Wuxi Technologies, perhaps an oasis of green in the middle of this rocky landscape.We come to a chainlink fence and drive parallel to it for miles.Beyond the chainlink is nothing, the landscape is the same on either side.We stop at a guardhouse, turn in and go through a gate.The sign says 'New Mexico-Texas Light Industrials' but it's very small.It is ten in the morning and light sears the landscape.I keep hoping for the oasis, but we drive for fifteen minutes and see nothing but rock and brush.The brush looks dead; Ms.Ngyuen informs me that it comes alive in the spring.Like Baffin Island, I imagine, the living things live their whole lives in that narrow time when conditions are favorable, and all the rest of the time they wait.Eventually, far ahead I see a complex of buildings.They are low, the same color as the land, a kind of bleached brown.When we get closer I see they're surrounded by gravel.Well, why waste water on grass? It's untended, nothing like the raked garden of stones at my flat in Wuxi.The site is a cluster of half-a-dozen buildings.But the size is deceiving, buildings I assumed were a story high are actually three stories.We drive under one right into the garage.When Ms.Ngyuen opens the door the heat is not nearly so bad as I expected, although, of course we are in the shade.We take an elevator up three stories.Inside, the floor is polished and painted concrete, the walls are adobe, it looks a little pinched.The offices are drab, the only color comes from calendars.The staff wears khaki; crisp brown and tan, short sleeves.I'm not sure if it is exactly a uniform, because even in one office it's sometimes coveralls, sometimes shirts and pants or skirts.Some people wear white blouses.A few glance up as we walk by, the rest seem engrossed in their work.We come through a double door into what must be the executive offices and things look better.Our footsteps are muffled by sand colored carpet, wooden desks have Native American pottery on them, plants are growing out of Native American baskets.Prettier, but Wuxi it's not.I meet Vice President Wang.He is from the main office in Hainandao, here for five years.He is a small, neat man with a short brush of hair.His office is all sand colored, with huge windows that look out at miles of scrub.In his khaki he gives an impression of military correctness.He leans forward, smiling, and shakes my hand."Engineer Zhang," he says, his voice forceful and full of energy, "we are pleased you could come." His English is accented but good.We have tea and discuss my journey, and then the water shortage.Finally he gestures towards a tube on his desk, the kind for storing plans and large flimsies."My engineers have been looking at your project from Nanjing University.It is very impressive.You designed this using the techniques of organic engineering?"My beach house.I explain that it was an assignment during my internship.(Woo Eubong's design was the one eventually accepted, mine, I tell myself, was not to the taste of the owner.) Vice President Wang explains that New Mexico-Texas has an organic engineer."I don't suppose you have much need for a man who can design beach houses," I say."We don't need too many beach houses, although we have one in Hainandao, and plan to have one in San Antonio." Vice President Wang smiles."There are other things you can do, I am sure.""What would you need?""How about if I have you speak with our Engineer after lunch, she can explain."We break for lunch, which is red snapper Veracruz and icy cold Mexican beer.The cafeteria is sand colored, with soft accents of mint and melon.Very institutional.The windows look out on scrub.The noon landscape is blasted white with sunlight.After lunch I meet Mang Li-zi, the organic engineer, trained in Shanghai.Her office is also carpeted, but her desk and tables are metal.She is finishing the second year of a five year rotation from Hainandao.She is Chinese and her first words to me are, "Ni shuo poutonghua ma?" 'Do you speak Mandarin?'"Shuo," I say, 'Yes.'"Good," she says in Chinese."It's easier that way.Do you need augmentation?""No," I say, "I think I can understand.You speak very clearly." Actually she has a heavy Shanghai accent, the kind that changes 'Shanghai' into 'Sanghai.'She is the first person I have seen who is not in khaki, she wears a pale green tunic over yellow pants, soft spring colors.She is pretty, has an oval face with a rosebud mouth and small nose.Very polished, very Shanghai, which is, after all, the fashion capital of the East.She sighs."It's not like China," she says."But the system is good, we're connected with Hainandao, it's as good a system as you'll find here in the West.""What kind of work do you do?""Mostly I run the Engineering Department, administration.Once in awhile I modify plans, or do some design work.It's all right.Not what I expected, I'm looking forward to getting back to Hainandao.I still keep my hand in, though.In the evening I do some systems work, for recreation.Let me show you some."The system is conventional, not like Wuxi where I didn't have to use a contact.We jack in and she shows me some designs she's done.Two, which she tells me have already been accepted, are for office complexes.She talks about using available materials.It's obvious that the office complexes will be used here, not in China or Japan.She's at work on an industrial complex right now.She takes me through it using the system and flimsies.She has an interesting touch, very Chinese but very different from Woo Eubong.Woo Eubong's pieces are subtle, sometimes with bits of fancy technology.Mang Li-zi's pieces are less complicated.They have the virtue of appearing gracefully simple but not cheap."You did these for New Mexico-Texas?" I say.They don't look like desert designs, I wonder where else the company has offices."Yes," she says, as if admitting something."I've gotten bonuses for both works."They're nice, but I don't think particularly worth bonuses.Of course, I have to remind myself, she did this on her own time.Do they expect her to design office complexes for them? It seems to me they ought to have her do it on their time."Do they come to you and tell you they need the plans, or do you ask them for the work?" What I am really trying to discover is if New Mexico-Texas will expect me to give them all of my free time."No, they have to be posted, let me show you." She uses an outside access and shows me a list of competitive bids.There are listings and specs for hundreds of jobs all across the nation, from hundreds of corporations.It's some kind of national posting.She keys an index and pages through screens of proposal requirements.None of the jobs listed today are projects for New Mexico-Texas."What do you do," I ask, "watch until New Mexico-Texas posts a job?" Seems foolish to me, why couldn't they just offer it to her?"No," she frowns at me."You don't understand.New Mexico-Texas didn't post these.They're office complexes for other companies, not for New Mexico-Texas.The first one is for Intek, the second is for Senkai's Western Division.I find a posting that looks interesting to me, and I submit a bid in New Mexico-Texas's name.It's a way to keep my hand in.""What about the fees? How do they pay you if you submit the bid as New Mexico-Texas?""Well, the company gets the fee, then they give me a bonus."It takes me a moment to figure out.She is looking up postings, designing complexes on her own time, and New Mexico-Texas gets the fees."But you do all the work," I say."I use the company's system," she says."I work for New Mexico-Texas.I'm not a company.If I sell a project, good, I get a bonus.If I don't," she shrugged, "it doesn't matter.They still pay my salary.And I get all the benefits, medical, housing, all of it [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]