the chief eats a fish

So a translation of a story making the rounds, again. The Chief Eats a Fish first appeared at the end of 2011 and keeps circulating. Fish, of course, is a common pun for “extra, or too much”. Of note are the different ways that each of his subordinates addresses Chief Yu and the way that puns function, making the social body out of different parts of the fish. Nevertheless the satire speaks for itself.

 The Chief (局长) Eats a Fish

The weekend had come and as was their custom, the work unit staff gathered to dine. According to Chief Yu this activity was “going deeply into the lowest levels of society (深入基层)” and the best shortcut for connecting with the masses.

Chief Yu loved to eat fish, which was of course on the menu. They had drunk three rounds of wine and five different dishes when the fish was served. The waitress knew Chief Yu and so she made sure that the fish head was directly facing him. Without waiting for anyone’s input, he immediately drank three cups of wine (fish head wine is a colloquialism which means “delicious wine”). When he had put down his wine cup, Chief Yu began to allocate the fish.

Chief Yu used his chopsticks to pluck out the fish’s eyeballs with practiced ease. He gave an eyeball each to the people on his left and right. He said, “this is known as the far-seeing eye. I hope the two of you will act in concert with me.”

The two vice-chiefs smiled and gave the Chief their heartfelt thanks, saying, “Chief Yu we will not let you down and will completely support the work you have begun.”

Chief Yu removed the fish skull and presented it to the Head of Accounting, saying, “this is known as the axial column. You are the key worker in our department so of course I’m giving it to you.”

The Head of account was surprised to be treated so well, but said, “Thanks, boss.”

Chief Yu gave the pretty mouth to his “young cousin”, saying, “The lips and the mouth rely on each other (唇齒相依)”, which is a traditional proverb to express the idea that two people cannot get along with each other.

The Chief’s “young cousin” shot him a flirty glance and said, “Thank you older brother Yu.”

Chief Yu gave the fishtail (wei 尾) to the office manager, making a pun on the expression, the committee takes responsibility (wei 委以重任). The office manager was completely grateful and said, “Thank you, elder.”

Chief Yu gave the fish stomach to the assistant (fu 副) head of the planning department, again making a pun, “this is called treating others with sincerity (推心置腹 – fu is also the character for stomach).” The assistant head dipped his head and replied formally, “Thank you Chief.”

Chief Yu gave the fins to the administrative director, saying “open your wings an fly. You are the nearest to our Chief and so will definitely go higher everyday.”

The administrative director a huge smile saying, “I hope that the Chief will give me the necessary support.

Chief Yu gave the fish buttocks (ding 腚) to the union chair and said, “If you hold the course, there will be happiness in the end (ding 定有後福).”

At the end of the allocation, all that was left was a picked over slab of meat. Chief Yu smiled bitterly and shook his head, saying, “I should probably take care of the leftovers, after all that’s what a Chief does.”

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