What do you think of when you hear the phrase “foreign face job”?
If you are thinking of having someone of a different race or ethnicity being placed in a setting where they stick out because of how they look, you got it right. These types of jobs exist all over the world, but my experience with them comes in the far east. When I first settled in China, I had heard about these types of jobs from friends and other bloggers but wondered how I could get in on the action. It turns out that who you know is pretty important with these types of jobs. I enjoy following Donnie Does on Barstool Sports, he has done a few of these types of jobs.
I was asked by a friend to take pictures for his Chinese friend’s company. Going into it I had no idea what the company was, who his friend was or if this was really a foreign face job. For all I know this was some fake company! All that was asked of me was to look nice, wear business casual and be outside of my apartment at a certain time. All fairly simple tasks if you ask me.
I was picked up by a driver along with the other foreign faces, some old, young, male and female, covering a wide range of people. The hour-long ride was filled with small talk and getting to know each other. When we arrived to our new company for the day, we met with members of the company, only one spoke any type of English. This was also a Saturday morning where the company generally does not work. Since we were coming, all of their employees were there for these pictures.
We were first brought to the boardroom, asked to wear vests with the company logo (I still had no idea what this company was) and were asked to just talk to one another. They scattered in some Chinese employees next to us to make it look like we were all working together when in reality we could not understand each other. The oldest looking foreign face was put at the head of the table to pretend like he was our boss. A cameraman was taking hundreds of pictures along with videos. It was so tough trying to keep a straight face while this was going on, but I think I did pretty good. There was a lot of fake smiling and head nodding going on in the boardroom.
In the boardroom, the lone English speaking employee tried to explain what the company produced. Finally, I would have my answer! After her explanation of the company producing “connectors”, I still really did not know what they did. Connectors for what? What are you connecting? When I asked these questions, she simply responded with “technology and connectors”. These questions are still unanswered to this day.
After that photo session in the boardroom, we were brought out the main floor and asked to sit at different cubicles and pretend to work. I picked up the phone and did my best office phone call impersonation. They wanted to cover all angles with us, from the boardroom to the average worker at the “connector” company. When they zoomed in to take a picture of me at the cubicle, everything on my desk was in Chinese characters. I can literally read two Chinese characters now.
The icing on the cake was after the boardroom and cubicle photo sessions, all of the company employees and the foreign faces were asked to go outside for an entire company photo. The part where I mentioned above about sticking out really showed in these photos. They sprinkled us in with the different workers of the company. I really think that the people working at the company were really thankful that we came that day. After the photo sessions, we were treated to lunch and driven back to where we live. Not bad for a Saturday morning.
So if you ever hear or read about any of these types of foreign face jobs out there, I can vouch that they do exist. These actually happen in this day in age in major cities across the world. It is amazing to see that there are major chunks of the world that really do not get exposed to foreigners of any kind. I will write more about this topic of “foreigner aliens” in other posts about China.
So if you ever happen to be in Southeast China and see a “connector” company ad with a bunch of foreigners in it. You never know who they are and what they really do. I might be the most famous “connector” company worker out there.