The Chinese Rice

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Seung Geel Hong

A story of a man who repairs a clock radio in exchange for Chinese rice, and he ends up with a disappointing commodity

The Chinese Rice

First Edition

By Hong, Seung Geel

© 2019 by Hong, Seung Geel

All rights reserved

ISBN:  978-1-79471-604-9


The following story was inspired by true experience, but the names of persons and organizations were changed to protect the privacy of everyone involved.  Therefore, any similarity between any of the names in this story to any known individual, whether living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Hong, Seung Geel

The Chinese Rice

1.The Agreement

David Jorgenson locked his apartment door and rode the elevator down to the first floor and entered the lobby.  He sat down on the couch and began to read the latest issue of Popular Science.

A few minutes later, Maria Martinez approached him and asked:


“David, you can fix almost anything.

Can you come up to my apartment and see what’s wrong with my clock radio?

It won’t turn on. . . .”


A few minutes later, David went to his apartment and picked up his tools before going to Maria’s apartment.

He took the radio apart and determined that the transformer was not working.

He explained to Maria:


“You’ll have to buy a new radio, because the transformer is burned out.”


Maria asked:


“Can’t we just buy a new transformer?

I’ve had this radio for years, and I never had any trouble with it until now.

I would like to keep this radio if I can.”


David explained:


“No, you need to buy a new radio.  There may be other things wrong with it besides the transformer.

I have an extra clock radio that I don’t need, but it needs a new power cord.

So, if you’re willing to buy a new power cord, you can have the radio for free:  I won’t charge you anything for my labor.”


Maria was happy to hear that David had a clock radio that he was willing to give away, but she did not want to spend any money to buy the power cord.

Therefore, she made David an attractive offer:


“David, I know that you eat a lot of rice.

So, if you put on the new power cord at your expense, I’ll give you some Chinese rice.  I think you’ll like it. . . .”


As soon as Maria had finished speaking, David blurted out:


“Oh, sure!  I don’t think I ever ate Chinese rice.  At least I don’t remember.  I’ll try anything!”


2.The Clock Radio is Fixed

David went to the hardware store and bought a 12-feet long extension cord.  He took it home and cut off the end that receives the appliance cord plug.

David preferred to use extension cords, because they normally were sturdier and often cheaper than regular lamp cords.

Anyway, David stripped away the insulation from the “cut-off” end of the cord so that he could solder the bared wires onto the place where the power cord connects to the power supply part of the circuit board (i.e., inside the radio).

After he put the radio back together, David took it to Maria’s apartment, but she was not home.

Therefore, he went back to his own apartment and wrapped the radio with newspaper.  And he put the radio into a plastic grocery bag and hung the bag on Maria’s doorknob.

3.Waiting for the Rice

David tried to visualize the Chinese rice that Maria would be bringing to him in exchange for the radio.  Would the rice be dark?  Would it be white?  Would the kernels be long or short, or somewhere in-between?

All that evening, David watched TV in his apartment with the door “cracked open,” because he wanted to let Maria know that he was at home in the event that she should attempt to deliver the Chinese rice.  But to David’s disappointment, Maria did not come to his apartment that evening.  Therefore, he locked the door at 11 o’clock and went to bed.

The next morning, David learned (from the lady across the hall) that Maria had taken the radio into her apartment about 20 minutes after he had hung the bag on the doorknob.  And a few minutes later, Maria’s daughter had picked her up so that they could spend a couple of days together out-of-town.

So, for the next two days, David thought off-and-on about the Chinese rice.  Perhaps, instead of raw rice, Maria might bring him some type of pre-cooked rice, such as rice in canned or frozen Chinese food.  Or, she might bring cooked white rice mixed with some type of sauce or oriental vegetables.  David even contemplated the possibility that Maria might bring him a dish resembling “Spanish rice.”  And the more David thought about Maria’s Chinese rice, the more impatient he became for Maria to return.

4.Maria Returns Home

Maria returned home on the third day, and she put the rice in a plastic grocery bag and hung the bag on David’s doorknob.

Later that day, David returned from a visit to his brother, and he became somewhat disappointed when he saw what Maria had brought him:  She had brought him plain white rice in a Ziploc bag, and the rice looked just like the kind that David had been using all his life.

He was completely satisfied with the amount of rice that Maria had given him, because the value of the rice and the value of the extension cord were approximately the same.

Nevertheless, David could not understand why Maria had told him that she would give him Chinese rice.

Hence, fearing that he might offend Maria if he should question her in the wrong way, David decided to wait until the next day to ask Maria why she had told him that she would give him “Chinese” rice.

In the meantime, he would try to think of a way to question Maria without upsetting her.

The next day, David looked for Maria several times, but she was out of the building all day.

Then, at about 7:30 p.m., while David was watching TV, Maria knocked on the door and asked David if he was satisfied with the rice.

David responded:


“Yes, I’m satisfied, . . . but I thought that I was going to get something different:  To me, the rice looks just like the kind we can buy at any grocery store.

Why do you call it Chinese rice?”


Maria innocently replied:


“Because I bought it at the mall from Chinese people. . . .”

Submitted: May 10, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Seung Geel Hong. All rights reserved.

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