Chapter 8: Resignation
At seven o’clock in the morning, the market began to get crowded with mostly elderly people pushing carts to buy vegetables and stroll around. Yang Xiaolong shook the bucket of fish, otherwise they looked half-dead and would not sell well. As the saying goes, “a person lives on one breath, and a tree is sold for its bark”.
While he was playing with the fish, a clear voice came from behind him. “Excuse me, can I set up my stall here?”
Yang Xiaolong looked up and saw a tall girl with a ponytail holding a net bag filled with common sea bass. He had arrived early, so there was still space available in the market. However, the market had designated locations for vendors, and those who set up their stalls haphazardly would be fined.
“Hello,” the girl asked again, thinking he didn’t hear her.
“Oh, sure,” Yang Xiaolong replied. He moved his bucket to the side, since he didn’t have many fish and didn’t need much space.
“Thank you,” the girl took the fish out of her net bag and quickly placed them in the designated spot. She then ran outside to grab a basin and a small oxygen pump from her tricycle. She was quite proficient and quickly arranged the fish in her spot.
“Young man, how much do you sell sea bass for?” A woman with a child stopped at his stall.
“Forty-five yuan per kilogram.”
The woman looked at it for a moment, hesitated, and left with the child before Yang Xiaolong could say anything else. By seven thirty, the sun had begun to beat down, and the fish had lost some of their liveliness.
Several people inquired about the price, but no one bought anything throughout the morning. In contrast, the nearby girl selling sea bream had sold two.
“Honey, those fish over there look great.”
“Let’s go have a look.”
A young couple walked over with smiles and asked, “Boss, how much for the sea bass?”
“Forty-five yuan per kilogram, all caught from the sea.”
The woman squatted down to touch the fish, discussed with the man, and had him pack some up before leaving.
“Forty-five yuan per pound, all caught from the sea,” Yang Xiaolong replied.
After squatting down to check the fish, the woman and man talked for a while before deciding to buy. The woman paid while the man packaged the fish.
“Two pounds and two ounces, for a total of 99 yuan,” Yang Xiaolong said quickly as he weighed and packaged the fish. He then added some water to the bag to keep the fish from drying out in the heat.
“Alright,” the man said, showing him the payment record on his phone.
“You’re good to go.”
After paying, the young couple left.
After waiting for over an hour, Yang Xiaolong finally sold out all of his sea wolves. He dragged the remaining fish to a shaded area. They were quite large, and had been cramped in a bucket all day.
It was almost 8 o’clock, and the last fish was bought by the old man from the grocery store. He said his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild were coming for lunch, and it was just enough for the whole family to eat. The total price was 104 yuan, but the old man only wanted to pay 100 yuan. In the end, he couldn’t resist Yang Xiaolong’s gaze and threw in a bottle of mineral water.
After selling two fish, he quickly collected his belongings and rushed back to work. He hurried to the store and arrived just in time for roll call. The manager had a register ready and was about to call out names when he rushed in with a bunch of things. The manager waved their hand, gesturing for them to quickly put away his belongings.
Yang Xiaolong felt a bit embarrassed and quickly moved the tools to the back kitchen. Their store was small but located in a tourist town. The store’s decoration and style were relatively high-end, and it wouldn’t be good if customers saw them using a bucket and a scale.
After roll call, the manager approached him to inquire about the situation and advised him to be more mindful of the impact of his side job and not to compromise his work.
Time flew by, and another week had passed. Although Yang Xiaolong didn’t have time to go out to sea, he utilized the two hours in the morning to catch fish. Even though he didn’t make a lot of money, he could earn several dozen yuan on a lucky day.
On this day, Yang Xiaolong thought for a long time and decided to resign from his job at the coffee shop. The job was relatively easy, only requiring him to serve a few cups of tea every day, but he couldn’t keep going like this. He wasn’t at the age of retirement yet and couldn’t become too complacent. As the saying goes, “while you’re young, you should make the most of it, otherwise when you’re old, you’ll want to do it, but won’t have the energy.”
After finishing work in the evening, Yang Xiaolong explained his situation to the manager. Although the manager tried to persuade him to stay, he could see that Yang Xiaolong had made up his mind and didn’t insist any further.
In fact, the boss had already issued a notice a few days ago about reducing staff and increasing efficiency. Everyone knew that it meant the business was not doing well and they had to lay off employees. By resigning, Yang Xiaolong indirectly helped the manager and saved him from having to offend anyone.
Although he had submitted his resignation, he still needed to stay in the dormitory for a few days. He couldn’t just quit without a plan like Liu Yufei did.
Although the harbor town is a tourist attraction, there are still many empty houses, especially in some villages near the sea with cheap rent and sea-view apartments.
According to the normal process, Yang Xiaolong should wait for the new employee to familiarize themselves with the job before leaving. However, the store is not planning to hire anyone temporarily, so he only needs to work until the end of the month.
Today is the 28th, and there are only two days left before he leaves. He decided to try to find a suitable place to settle down.
Liehuo Village is the easternmost coastal village in the harbor town, and it is inhabited by fishermen. In recent years, with the depletion of marine resources, many young people have gone out to work, so there are many vacant houses in the village.
Yang Xiaolong rode a shared bike to Liehuo village, where it was very quiet except for a few sea ducks and two big dogs playing around. After walking for half a day, he finally saw a girl repairing fishing nets under a shelter made of a sunshade net.
“Hello, do you have any empty rooms for rent here?” Yang Xiaolong shouted.
The girl turned around.
Yang Xiaolong was first stunned. Wasn’t she the little girl who set up a stall with him a few days ago? They had also met a few times at the market, although they had not spoken much. But they were considered acquaintances.
“It is you?”
The little girl smiled, her two small tiger teeth sparkling and very cute.
“I’m Yang Xiaolong,” Yang Xiaolong introduced himself. They had set up a stall together before, but they hadn’t communicated much, so they didn’t know each other’s names.
“I’m Jing Tian,” the little girl introduced herself confidently.
“Hehe, you’re even a big star,” Yang Xiaolong joked.
Jing Tian smiled lightly, but didn’t say anything in response.
After chatting for a while, Yang Xiaolong explained his purpose for coming and mentioned that Liehuo village was a great choice for easy access to the sea, with a pier just a ten-minute walk away.
“We have a room for rent in our house. Do you want to take a look?” Jing Tian offered.
Jing Tian was a local and only lived with her grandfather. Her parents had gone out to sea a few years ago and unfortunately perished in a typhoon. Their home happened to have an empty room available.
Yang Xiaolong followed her to her house, where he saw two tiled houses in front with a small courtyard in between. Behind them was a two-story building with a sign reading “room for rent” posted on the glass window.