Chapter 94: As if seeing the old me
After afternoon examinations the next day, Xu Tingsheng received a call from that Yanzhou Nightly reporter he had previously met in the Civic Square. The reporter had specifically called to inform him that the newspaper article from last time had already been published. The remaining matters need not be said.
Xu Tingsheng returned to his dormitory room and packed up his things. After saying goodbye to his roommates, he returned to the riverside residence. Along the way, he bought a copy of that day’s Yanzhou Nightly. Flipping through it, he was rather satisfied with the article, which could be considered pretty good.
Following this, having received the other party’s bank account number on his phone, Xu Tingsheng transferred him the money.
He could not claim to feel joyful or disgusted regarding this. It was just-he felt a sense of release. In his previous life, Xu Tingsheng had been a somewhat overly rigid person, perhaps having been overly arrogant or thought too much like a scholar. Having been a teacher, having just moved from one campus to another and not sufficiently interacted with society at large, he had been greatly unused to things having left education for entrepreneurship later on.
Now, he only wished to safeguard those things which were truly important to him above all else. As for everything else, he would just let nature run its course.
Arriving at the riverside residence, the two students whom Li Linlin had introduced were currently here. They had already come here a few times before, having already gotten familiar with their required job scope. Xu Tingsheng had nothing additional to tell them, merely giving the two a partial advance of their wages and instructing them to rest properly and have a good year.
As for the problem of security over the winter holidays, with Zhong Wusheng around, Xu Tingsheng naturally had nothing he needed to worry about at all.
Faced with a boss who was also a first year student like them, these two students Li Linlin had introduced had initially felt it to be a little strange, inevitably acting a little more restrained as a result.
After having interacted a few times and grown more familiar with Xu Tingsheng, they could already joke around with him infrequently now.
This time, one mischievously called, “Hi, Boss! Heehee.”
Then, she pointed downstairs, smiling, “Reporting to Boss, the hardworking Lady Boss already arrived in the afternoon! She’s been busy until now; currently, she’s in the midst of discussing business with a customer downstairs.”
Usually, Xu Tingsheng requested of them not to call him Boss. Xu Tingsheng could really not yet associate himself mentally with this form of address. More time would be needed before he truly got used to assuming this role on a daily basis.
Now, not only had she called him Boss, she had even said...Lady Boss.
Xu Tingsheng was struck dazed by these words, “Lady Boss?”
“Student Xu...don’t pretend, everyone knows. You’ve already taken down our faculty’s flower-could I be less clear on that? Zhixin and I are in the same class and the same dorm room, you know.”
Only now did Xu Tingsheng come to a realisation. Li Linlin had merely told him before that one of the girls introduced by her was from the English course. Unexpectedly, she was actually also that same roommate of Lu Zhixin’s she had spoken of who had to work hard for her livelihood alongside Li Linlin.
Lu Zhixin had come? And not only had she come, she had even helped out for the entire afternoon, and was currently still helping out with business discussions downstairs...really, what opera was this chick singing? This seizing of initiative, this enthusiasm-Xu Tingsheng was really left feeling a little panicked.
Not waiting for an explanation, Xu Tingsheng hurried downstairs.
There was a relatively small parlour between the three rooms downstairs. Xu Tingsheng had previously bought a sofa and a coffee table, setting the parlour up as a simple, temporary place to receive guests.
After all, he had originally also planned the platform as a medium through which training institutes could try to recruit people to attend their courses.
Strictly speaking, Lu Zhixin should currently be talking with Hucheng’s first ever customer to have personally paid them a visit at their headquarters.
Opening the door, Xu Tingsheng found a bespectacled middle-aged man seated within the parlour, a cup of hot tea placed before him. Opposite him sat a smiling, earnest Lu Zhixin.
Seeing Xu Tingsheng enter, Lu Zhixin stood up, smiling in a very natural and poised manner, “You’re back?”
“Let me make the introductions. This here is Principal Tang, Tang Guangyi, the main in-charge of Yanzhou Modernity Training Institute.”
“This is our boss, Hucheng Education’s Xu Tingsheng.”
Perhaps because Xu Tingsheng was just too young, the middle-aged man named Tang Guangyi was unable to immediately come up with a proper manner of address for him. Not even calling out a ‘Boss Xu’, he simply nodded somewhat awkwardly, greeting Xu Tingsheng in this manner.
After Xu Tingsheng had greeted the man, Lu Zhixin made up some excuse and called him out of the room.
“The training institute’s looking for us to help them in recruitment. I asked a great price of them, receiving fifty thousand straight up annually coupled with an additional two hundred yuan of proceeds for every student they manage to recruit,” Lu Zhixin said.
Xu Tingsheng was taken aback by this. For Hucheng Education that had only just started out, this was really too high of a price for its first recruiting service. If Xu Tingsheng were to have proposed a price himself, it would definitely have been much lower than that.
Noticing Xu Tingsheng’s expression, Lu Zhixin continued, “Anyway, we’ve already offered them an initial price. As for negotiations, we’ve surely still got to give them some leeway. You can discuss the specifics with him later.”
“Still, I feel that since this is our first recruitment proxy service, it can also be considered a critical step in our fundamental basing of prices. It’s best if...you can persist a bit more on this.”
“My view is that it is better for us to give up on doing this piece of business than to let our standing drop. In terms of Hucheng’s future development, we’re definitely worth this price. We won’t be lacking such business in the future.”
Hearing Lu Zhixin’s analysis, Xu Tingsheng’s understanding of her grew as he asked rather astonishedly, “Your family runs a business?”
Understanding what he meant, Lu Zhixin smiled as she nodded, “My father owns a home appliances business. I’ve been playing there since young.”
Hearing Lu Zhixin’s words, it was not hard at all for Xu Tingsheng to understand why she was so intelligent and astute. This young girl might be even more proficient in the area of business than he was.
Xu Tingsheng wasn’t any troubled over this. What he was troubled about was Lu Zhixin’s current attitude, which was really...too much like a Lady Boss, a virtuous, capable other half.
With her after all having helped him, Xu Tingsheng could not appear too rejecting of her as he asked somewhat awkwardly, “About that, you...how is it that you're here?”
Without any bit of awkwardness at all, Lu Zhixin replied, “Liu Daiyun, your employee and my roommate! She said that you're short on hands here.”
“Since I'm a Yanzhou local and also don't have anything much to do over the winter holidays, I thought that I might as well come over. On one hand, it's to accompany Daiyun a little-she’ll surely be lonely here alone over the winter holidays. On the other, I can also see if there's anything that needs helping out with as well.”
“If you don't mind, I'll be coming over all hols.”
Lu Zhixin having said this, it was equivalent to having cut off all Xu Tingsheng's paths of retreat. If he politely refused, that would mean that he minded. Then, should he say that he minded it or not?
Just as Xu Tingsheng was feeling troubled over this, Lu Zhixin pushed him back, “Alright, let's talk about me later. You should go to talk with that Principal Tang first.”
As Xu Tingsheng was returning to the parlour, Lu Zhixin tugged at his sleeve, elaborating in a low tone, “This person's very easy to deal with. Take it slow, no need to rush.”
Having returned to the parlour, Xu Tingsheng apologised to Tang Guangyi before sitting down and saying, “Principal Tang, regarding the price, my colleague already mentioned it to you earlier. What do you think?”
Xu Tingsheng thought that whether the other party wept and begged claiming their poverty or claimed an insider's overbearingness and derided them for offering an unreasonable price now, it should be done with the motive of slashing prices at the end of the day.
However, Tang Guangyi didn't do any of these, just smiling rather forcedly and awkwardly, “About that...you see, the previous investment for our training institute was very high, so we might not be able to take out so great a sum at once. Can the price be a little lower?”
Before Xu Tingsheng had answered him,he was already continuing, “If it's truly impossible, how about we discuss on paying in installments? When our operations have picked up and we have the cash, we'll pay you a few more times in installments. How about that?”
Xu Tingsheng knew now why Lu Zhixin had said that this person would be very easy to deal with. In fact, that was a massive understatement.
However, just this person whom many in the outside world might take to be a fool instead filled Xu Tingsheng with countless emotions. He was not a fool. He was just filled with the idealism of a scholar, also possessing that pitiable sense of pride.
Feeling apologetic at this, feeling apologetic at that, even claiming that his previous investment had been too great when it was probably just that he was already so poor that he could only cry.
It was like seeing the old him, the him of his previous life.
There was a period of time in Xu Tingsheng's previous life when he had been the same. He had been working in construction, but he had felt too apologetic to look for the old principal when the school he had once taught in had been refurbishing its canteen. His old colleagues would have made use of this old relationship, yet he would rather just go over to the contractors’ and wait fruitlessly there.
In the eyes of others, even to the current Xu Tingsheng himself, such a pride would inevitably seem rather pathetic and pitiable.
Here, Xu Tingsheng asked, “Principal Tang, you were a teacher once, yes?”
“Yes, that's right. I worked in a junior high school for 14 years, teaching Language,” Tang Guangyi said.
“How did you end up starting a business?”
“A few of my friends were discussing and felt that there’s quite a market for education. They wanted to find someone in the industry, and I was the one they chose. Feeling a little unresigned to spending my whole life teaching within a school, I decided to go for it.”
“Then, already having connections with schools, if you additionally draw on the students and their parents whom you've accumulatively taught all these years, recruitment shouldn't actually be that hard, right?”
Being more familiar with training institutes and how they operated within the education industry, the two methods Xu Tingsheng had just spoken of were precisely the main methods of recruitment for many preexisting training institutes. Meanwhile, people who chose to work in this profession were normally equipped with these two conditions.
The Tang Guangyi before him should be equipped with these two conditions as well.
Tang Guangyi smiled, saying, “I haven't used these connections.”
As for why not, Tang Guangyi did not say it, nor did Xu Tingsheng have to ask why. It was precisely that scholarly idealism and pathetic, pitiable pride that was at work. Once again, Xu Tingsheng felt as if he was seeing the old him.
Xu Tingsheng very much wanted to give Tang Guangyi a reminder, very much wanted to scold reason into him, telling him that society just didn't allow for people to be this way. Still, he didn't do it. He knew that no matter what he said, Tang Guangyi would definitely not be able to accept and concur with it. Such things could only be experienced, be realised by someone firsthand.
In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, enlightenment had only dawned upon him when he had already been penniless and frustrated.
“Principal Tang, how about this? Under the principle of bearing responsibility towards the students, I'd like to go to your training institute and take a look first,” Xu Tingsheng said, “If everything turns out fine, I'll agree to your proposal of paying in fixed installments. We can sign the contract immediately; after that, I'll quickly arrange for the platform to start on the recruitment service for you.”
The number of registered parents on Hucheng Education Service Platform had currently already reached more than 1600 people, still being in the midst of rising rapidly as well. Speaking just in terms of the upcoming winter holidays, a situation had indeed already arisen wherein the supply of home tutors was insufficient to meet their demand.
Xu Tingsheng had the ability to generate business and revenue for Tang Guangyi's training institute.
“Naturally, naturally. Being responsible towards the students is naturally the first and foremost thing,” Tang Guangyi excitedly stood up, “How about we go now then?”
Tang Guangyi's modernised training institute was not far away from the academic city of Xishan. Xu Tingsheng, Lu Zhixin and Tang Guangyi rode a bus over together for a look. Xu Tingsheng was rather taken aback by how good the facilities of the training institute were. As for teachers, the training institute had many proficient teachers who had once taught in famous schools.
However, while Tang Guangyi's training institute had already been in operation for half a year, most of its classrooms were empty, their doors shut tight. Even for those few classrooms whose doors were open, there were only a small number of students inside.
Leaving the modernised training institute, Xu Tingsheng and Lu Zhixin chatted as they walked, the former asking, “What do you think about this modernised institute?”
Lu Zhixin hesitated for a moment before saying, “It's extremely good, shockingly good even.”
“However, while that Principal Tang might be rather proficient if placed in charge of teaching or management, this institute will not be able to last long if he's the one running it.”
“It’ll not last even if we help him with recruitment?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
Lu Zhixin replied, “I don't know. Therefore, I feel that we should actually reject this piece of business, or delay it a little, or add some restrictions in the specific process of recruitment…”
“After that, we can wait until he's unable to hold on, and, when the time is ripe...gobble up that modernised training institute.”
“I think that your blueprint for Hucheng’s future development also goes somewhere along these lines. This is a very good chance for Hucheng to get a training institute of its own. You should properly think about it.”
What Lu Zhixin said was right, could not be more right. She was virtually an old hand in the field of business. In having correctly predicted Xu Tingsheng’s future plans, she might even surpass him in this area.
However, she caused a slight chill to run down Xu Tingsheng’s spine. This girl was far more terrifying than he had originally thought. If she was just his employee, Xu Tingsheng would guard against her, but would not mind this, even making good use of her talents.
However, that was not what Lu Zhixin was. What she wanted now was Xu Tingsheng himself, or perhaps something else.
His mind temporarily falling into chaos, steeling his resolve as he was also overcome a little by an urge to run away, Xu Tingsheng looked straight at Lu Zhixin, saying, “Just now, you asked me whether I minded you coming to help over the winter holidays. I’d like to say now that I...may mind.”
Shocked by Xu Tingsheng’s sudden declaration, Lu Zhixin looked dazedly at his eyes, the corners of her mouth twitching and her eyes turning red. However, she did not cry.
“Sorry, I...I’ll go home first then.”
Lu Zhixin left. After returning to the riverside residence, Xu Tingsheng called Tang Guangyi and got the contract signed. With Old Wai and Li Linlin still here, they were able to immediately get started with the implementation of the recruitment framework.
Hucheng completed its first business deal. Also, as soon as the corresponding sum of money had been transferred over, it would virtually be able to completely make up for what Xu Tingsheng had initially invested in the company. Old Wai and Li Linlin were both very happy.
However, Xu Tingsheng could not feel happy at all.
Lu Zhixin was actually not in the wrong, not in the wrong at all. She had simply been diligently stating matters as they were. All of it had been with Xu Tingsheng’s interests in mind.
Yet, Xu Tingsheng was worried that her goal-oriented mindset along with such a scheming method of doing things might somehow come to hurt that person whom he cared about in the future, that precious little girl. Therefore, he chose to be cruel to her.
Yet, Xu Tingsheng’s soft personality was such that he could not help but blame himself, could not help but feel guilty.
Before sleeping, Xu Tingsheng sent Lu Zhixin a message, “I’m sorry.”
Lu Zhixin replied, “It’s fine. You still have a train to catch tomorrow. Sleep well, goodnight.”
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