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"Yeah, we have a lot of oil in Scotland."
June 29, 2010 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Say you're a Chinese company wishing to appear more global and well-to-do without all the messy hubbub of hiring a foreigner. What do you do? Drop $44 and rent a white guy.
posted by griphus (90 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Zatkin was paid 2,000 yuan (about $300) to fly, along with a couple of Russian models, to a small city in the central province of Henan where he delivered a speech for the grand opening ceremony of a jewelry store there.

Yeah, we all know how this one turned out.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:04 AM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


A new and exciting kind of LARP.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:07 AM on June 29, 2010


FINALLY A JOB I WAS BORN FOR.
posted by The Whelk at 9:12 AM on June 29, 2010 [16 favorites]


What I'm saying is that I'm great at existing in places.
posted by The Whelk at 9:12 AM on June 29, 2010 [35 favorites]


I should be more outraged than I am. But I'm not.

Should just go to prove my frequently voiced opinion that white guys have it easier than pretty much anyone else on the earth. With the exception of domestic cats.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:14 AM on June 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


America, fuck yeah!

Oh, wait, what? China? Importing random White Guys to look well-connected? Sounds like environmental efforts in the US that get celebrity to promote their cause, making them look more well-connected or important. Except I don't imagine Bono would get paid to sit around in a hotel for a week, watching movies on his laptop until the next press meeting or dinner appointment.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:14 AM on June 29, 2010


Bono?? BONO??
posted by ReeMonster at 9:16 AM on June 29, 2010


What I'm saying is that I'm great at existing in places.

Do you have a resumé or something? Can you show me some professional existing?
posted by Mister_A at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Some of my best fake employees are white.
posted by DU at 9:27 AM on June 29, 2010 [22 favorites]


I can serve as a reference for The Whelk's capability. I have seen him, with my own eyes, exist in places. Well, one place. But he was great at it!
posted by rtha at 9:28 AM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can you show me some professional existing?

I'm at number 31 (some photos NSFW)
posted by The Whelk at 9:29 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Whelk once lifted my luggage for $40 and I must say it was the best luggage lift I ever had.
posted by The Straightener at 9:32 AM on June 29, 2010 [14 favorites]


"lifted my luggage isn't defined yet."
posted by griphus at 9:33 AM on June 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Obligatory:
The lobby at our hotel was dimly lit and smelled like bad seafood. “At least we have a nice view,” Ernie deadpanned as he opened the drapes in our room to reveal a scrap yard. A truck had been stripped for parts, and old tires were heaped into a pile. A dog yelped.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:33 AM on June 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


OK! It sounds like he will be a great addition to my firm, Humans Being LLC. He's got to be better than the last guy I hired, a certain Mr. S. Claus.
posted by Mister_A at 9:34 AM on June 29, 2010


Mr The Whelk certainly does like like a corporeal being of the caucasian persuasion to me. Well done!
posted by 1adam12 at 9:35 AM on June 29, 2010


The Human Fund: People for Money
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:35 AM on June 29, 2010


Here and I thought the days of getting paid to sit at a computer and do nothing ended when I graduated college.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:41 AM on June 29, 2010


What I'm saying is that I'm great at existing in places.

Twins, triplets and other multiples could make a killing. Whereas Ambrose Bierce and Judge Crater...not so much.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on June 29, 2010


funny story: This is actually how Tony Hayward got his current job!
posted by shmegegge at 9:42 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


ExisTemps: Collapsing the Human Wave-Form Function Since 20XX
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on June 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Man, this is like white privilege with a nice white cherry on top made out of cash! I'm passably attractive. Where do I sign up?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:47 AM on June 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


"lifted my luggage isn't defined yet."

Here you go.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:49 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


A dog yelped.

This hotel sucked. Woof woof scrapyard woof Foursquare mayor woof. Don't stay there!
posted by uncleozzy at 9:51 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I got paid to be a white guy. They needed me for an interview team at work. With the combination of applicants and interviewees, they needed a white male on the interview team. I got a call from a supervisor who said: "marxchivist, we need you to be a white male."

"Yes ma'am, I can do that."
posted by marxchivist at 9:53 AM on June 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pfft. The Whelk is so 2002. Hire me instead! I'm whiter. And I'm more existinger, inhabiting 5 dimensions instead of three. I'm on-call 24-7, read to white male up any function or gathering you need - nothing too debased or degrading for me. I'll swear to anyone who asks that I am actually integrally associated with your business. And I will beat any of The Whelk's published prices! Just remember, the E's in Mr. Eleganza stand for Elite Race!
posted by mreleganza at 9:55 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually did this for a company while in China a few years ago. The company was trying to finalize a deal between a Chinese boarding middle school and a Australian boarding high school that was all but signed from the Australian perspective. The dean of the Australian school was to fly in for the final tour before they inked the deal but his trip fell through. Some friends called me up desperate and told me it would be fun. I donned a suit, was toured around with a "translator" (my friend who worked for the brokers and called me up). Turns out their in-house English teacher, the one true English speaker who could tell an Ozzy from a Yank, was in on the fake-out and didn't rat me out. I toured the school, I asked a few school-official type questions about the facilities, they put on a "mass game" for me then took me out for a banquet. It went swimmingly. Everyone was quite pleased and I ended up with one of those stories that ex-pats get to share at dinner parties (or on the interwebs)!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:59 AM on June 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


You could go for a knock-off White Guy, but did I mention my blond hair and blue eyes and ability to project an air of calm, whitely confidence and assured social strata?

Also, I own not one but two different high-quality business suits, allowing me to appear both fashionable and expensive, at no extra cost to you.
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Accents available: Wall Street Patrician , Lovably Coarse Scotsman, and Stephen Fry.
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 AM on June 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


When it backfires, the outcome must be pretty damaging. And rightly so.
posted by honest knave at 10:06 AM on June 29, 2010


Man, I am so down to do this.
posted by empath at 10:07 AM on June 29, 2010


Dude, I'm so white that for Halloween, I strip down to my shorts and go as "Liquid Paper."

I'm a hit with the gals. "Hey baby, I may not be Mr. Right, but I am Mr. Correct."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:12 AM on June 29, 2010 [19 favorites]


They actually prefer Hispanic chicks, but won't offer them a good job after. For realsies.
posted by bardic at 10:12 AM on June 29, 2010


I probably wouldn't make much money as a white guy for rent because I'm sort of burly and barbarian-ish but maybe I could wear an animal skin, carry a club and let them point and laugh at me for like fifteen bucks or something.
posted by The Straightener at 10:18 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am twice as large as any of these other white men and I would work for the same rate. That's double the value!
posted by Megafly at 10:20 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I did this a couple times, and I knew several other people who have. The only thing that upsets me is that I didn't have the connections to get my run-of-the-mill blog post picked up by a semi-respectable american news magazine. Of course, as the experience of being a white-guy for hire should have taught me, it's not like talent or ability counts for anything.
posted by bluejayk at 10:22 AM on June 29, 2010


Little did they know but my current company hired me as a white guy that doesn't do much work.
posted by educatedslacker at 10:32 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


By virtue of my recent DNA test results I can state that I am eminently qualified for the position.
posted by pianomover at 10:32 AM on June 29, 2010


Dude I'm so white my invisible knapsack is from L. L Bean.
posted by The Whelk at 10:36 AM on June 29, 2010 [32 favorites]


Sign me the fuck up
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:44 AM on June 29, 2010


But Whelk, do you have a professional white background?
posted by defenestration at 10:51 AM on June 29, 2010


"When it backfires, the outcome must be pretty damaging. And rightly so."

It sounds like most of the important people are already in on the deception, so it might not be so bad if the secret got out. The point is to put on a good show at the right time. After the contracts are signed or whatever, nobody much cares if you hired a ringer.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:53 AM on June 29, 2010


In college, my room-mate and I were thinking of creative business ventures. One of his ideas was the Interesting Guest, available to make you seem like a more diverse, interesting, or well-to-do person. We'd go to weddings and parties, accompanying someone or simply being there and making lively conversation. Our mere presence would elevate the status of whoever invited us. Worried about how your future in-laws will judge your friends and family at your wedding? Invite some people with class! Concerned that your debut party for your new co-workers will be drab? We'll bring the excitement and adventure! As you might imagine, this plan never took off. But perhaps we were thinking of the wrong customer bases.

Bono?? BONO??

He was the first celebrity with a history of charity work I could think of. Actually, the first one I thought of was of Hijo Del Santo, but I've had lucha libre on the brain for a while.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:59 AM on June 29, 2010


I'd totally do this.

I'm tall, blue eyed, and have a shade of dark blond hair that I guarantee you won't find anywhere in China. I'm also dead body pale. I speak no Chinese other than "Ni Hao" in a bad American accent and I am an incredibly talented B.S.er.

I'm 30 though, so I might not be young and hot enough since I'm a woman. *Sigh* You white guys get all the breaks.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:00 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


A woman in the second link was hired to be an oil tycoon, so you never know! And if it's all fake you can be any age you like.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:04 AM on June 29, 2010


Did we not discuss this when it was first making the rounds?
posted by scalefree at 11:08 AM on June 29, 2010


In college, my room-mate and I were thinking of creative business ventures. One of his ideas was the Interesting Guest, available to make you seem like a more diverse, interesting, or well-to-do person.


The creator of Beach Blanket Babylon in SF had a "Rent A Freak" service and seem to remember some 50s-era ad parody for "Hire A Beatnik! Brings own banjos, will quote poetry, enliven your party!"
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 AM on June 29, 2010


And in States of Desire, in the NYC chapter, there is a rumor that people are just paying foreigners to come to their parties so they look good in the background.
posted by The Whelk at 11:09 AM on June 29, 2010


And if it's all fake you can be any age you like.
That's true. And since we white people basically all look alike, and you can't really tell how old we are, I'm sure it doesn't matter.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:11 AM on June 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, the difference between 25 and 30 is pretty small. Nobody would believe an 18 year old oil tycoon, but a 25 year old executive? Why not.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:13 AM on June 29, 2010


scalefree: Did we not discuss this when it was first making the rounds?
posted by scalefree at 1:08 PM on June 29 [+] [!]


I thought the same thing but then realized I just had the whole MetaFilter discussion in my head re: white privilege and "I should do this." in my head a few weeks ago.

My Imaginary MetaFilter is like Imaginary White Guy Investors Inc., only more fighty.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:21 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


My Imaginary MetaFilter is like Imaginary White Guy Investors Inc., only more fighty.


So it's Imaginary Celtic Guy Investors then?
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on June 29, 2010


hi there,

I'm an indian engineer from bangalore university (honest to god, so cross my heart etc) wanna outsource that rental white guy our way? I can get you a cheaper price.

thanking you kindly,

yrs etc
posted by infini at 11:31 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I got an #FFFFFF in whiteness.
posted by snofoam at 11:32 AM on June 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not content with simply making fake Louis Vuitton and Prada, the Chinese also are manufacturing counterfeit Caucasians.

I can't wait for it to go even further; hiring some really dark skinned Indian to pretend to be an authentic African-American.
posted by wcfields at 11:36 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


wcfields: I can't wait for it to go even further; hiring some really dark skinned Indian to pretend to be an authentic African-American.

Be very quiet or this idea will end up on NBC this fall paired up with Outsourced as a "comedy" block./
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:46 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


*giggles at wcfields*
posted by infini at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2010



Ok, this has made me uncomfortable, a bit.

So, there was this job I had back in '02. I showed up, logged into my computer and cruised the internet all morning, went to meetings, and answered questions with answers I had been given when I got the meeting request from my boss. Literally, I didn't do a damn thing for three months.

For $15 bucks an hour, was I just fulfilling some sort of minority quota?

I'm quite serious and quite bothered. I always thought it was just typical huge corporation crap where they hire people to fill positions with titles that signify nothing.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:49 AM on June 29, 2010


So, there was this job I had back in '02. I showed up, logged into my computer and cruised the internet all morning, went to meetings, and answered questions with answers I had been given when I got the meeting request from my boss. Literally, I didn't do a damn thing for three months.

For $15 bucks an hour


Are they hiring?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:51 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


hiring some really dark skinned Indian to pretend to be an authentic African-American

If Ben Kingsley can play Gandhi; Anthony Quinn can play Kublai Khan, Zorba the Greek, and Auda Abu Tayi; and Charlton Heston can play freakin' Moses, I don't see that as a huge stretch.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:58 AM on June 29, 2010


During the ceremony, one of us would have to give a speech as the company’s director. That duty fell to my friend Ernie, who, in his late 30s, was the oldest of our group. His business cards had already been made.

From the first link. That sounds like a textbook con game. I can see hiring someone to look good and work for quality control, a low level employee comes and goes. But saying the director is someone that has absolutely no idea about the business is straight up grifting, IMHO.

Is fraud legal in china?
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 12:00 PM on June 29, 2010


What are the hours?
posted by jonmc at 12:10 PM on June 29, 2010


I came out of school with a Comp Sci degree a couple years before the tech bubble. During the height of the tech bubble I had some work experience to point at. That being the case, jobs were dead easy to find. (You kids today wouldn't understand that.) I came up with an idea that I regret never following through on.

Go on a bender of interviews and accept jobs at 25 or 30 places. Show up at some of them a few times, call in sick, send apology letters, and generally squirrel around for about a month.

At the time, I probably wouldn't have actually gotten fired from lots of those jobs for at least a few weeks. Many would have HR policies requiring a warning, paperwork, etc. At one or two big companies no one might notice for months if ever. After a month I would have accumulated about two years worth of paychecks and could then go on paid vacation for a couple years. Alas the days when you could get a tech job by just saying I'll take it are gone.
posted by Babblesort at 12:18 PM on June 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Not only am I white and male, I'm also getting the wrinkles of the experienced around my eyes, and years of lazily leading a team have given me that unmistakable air of careless authority.

I'm perfect if you need a fake boss to nod casually as if I'm vaguely interested in what your team is saying.

Reasonable rates!
posted by quin at 12:29 PM on June 29, 2010


If Ben Kingsley can play Gandhi...

Sir Ben was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji. He is ethnically half-Gujarati. Wanna guess what ethnicity Gandhi was?
posted by Etrigan at 12:33 PM on June 29, 2010


Looks like the CNN reporters followed up on this earlier (it says July/August issue but I read it early this month) Atlantic magazine piece, "Rent a White Guy"
posted by Bwithh at 12:34 PM on June 29, 2010


tell me he wasn't a Bhanji?

Gandhi was a Gujurati bania - from the merchant, trader, moneylender, business caste - it has been said that was why he was able to negotiate so well with the british (in his own inimitable way of course)
posted by infini at 12:40 PM on June 29, 2010


Babblesort:
I came out of school with a Comp Sci degree a couple years before the tech bubble. During the height of the tech bubble I had some work experience to point at. That being the case, jobs were dead easy to find. (You kids today wouldn't understand that.) I came up with an idea that I regret never following through on.

Go on a bender of interviews and accept jobs at 25 or 30 places. Show up at some of them a few times, call in sick, send apology letters, and generally squirrel around for about a month.

At the time, I probably wouldn't have actually gotten fired from lots of those jobs for at least a few weeks. Many would have HR policies requiring a warning, paperwork, etc. At one or two big companies no one might notice for months if ever. After a month I would have accumulated about two years worth of paychecks and could then go on paid vacation for a couple years. Alas the days when you could get a tech job by just saying I'll take it are gone.


I don't usually say this, but if you had a newsletter I would like to subscribe to it.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:54 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sir Ben was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji. He is ethnically half-Gujarati. Wanna guess what ethnicity Gandhi was?

Actually, he was born in Yorkshire. His dad was mostly Gujarati from Kenya, thus the the real name Bhanji. But I'll withdraw Sir Krishna, and raise you a Lawrence Oliver as Othello.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:05 PM on June 29, 2010


Good news, The Whelk! We've whittled the applicant pool down to you and one other person. I am pushing hard to get you in here because I just don't know that existing is his strong suit in the long run.
posted by Mister_A at 1:09 PM on June 29, 2010


WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY
posted by The Whelk at 1:12 PM on June 29, 2010


Hardly anyone is really good at existing in the long run.
posted by Babblesort at 1:12 PM on June 29, 2010


except Hamlet, though he did question it
posted by infini at 1:14 PM on June 29, 2010


Hah. Did they get this idea from Gwen Stefani?
posted by emeiji at 1:49 PM on June 29, 2010


You white guys have it good. We polka dotted freckle faces still have a long way to claw up the ladder.
posted by Balisong at 2:14 PM on June 29, 2010


This explains how come my father, a white dude in a suit, is forever being flown around Asia by the companies he's connected to, instead of them parking him in an office and emailing him the spreadsheets.
posted by Phalene at 2:14 PM on June 29, 2010


Sun Ra: What have you been doin lately?
Drunk: Uh huh uh, nuthin, really, nuthin.
Sun Ra: How long have you been doing nuthin?
Drunk: Quite some time. Quite some time.
Sun Ra: You must be an expert at it.
Drunk: Got my B.A., ya see.
Sun Ra: We'll hire you to do that.
Drunk: How much I get paid, man?
Sun Ra: Nuthin.
posted by Twang at 2:59 PM on June 29, 2010


More evidence that white men have it easier than the rest of us.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:05 PM on June 29, 2010


As a coworker of mine once quipped, the only things most CxOs are expected to be are "tall and plausible."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:08 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you have a resumé or something? Can you show me some professional existing?

I bet you didn't notice, but I'm existing as we speak.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2010


Ah, how the world turns. Once upon a time, China was the center of the world, and everyone else who came to visit - shock: even white guys - were barbarians. Now China is importing the former barbarians to glam up their offerings. But, given how fast China is growing, can it be far from a time when once again China will be the center and white guys the barbarians? From what I hear, hints of the "white barbarians" are already starting (and even somewhat more developed in Japan).
posted by VikingSword at 5:20 PM on June 29, 2010


Some of my language instructor friends in Japan had sidelines pretending to be priests at Japanese weddings for couples who wanted a Western-style ceremony.
posted by cwhitfcd at 5:49 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


VikingSword:

Ah, how the world turns. Once upon a time, China was the center of the world, and everyone else who came to visit - shock: even white guys - were barbarians. Now China is importing the former barbarians to glam up their offerings. But, given how fast China is growing, can it be far from a time when once again China will be the center and white guys the barbarians? From what I hear, hints of the "white barbarians" are already starting (and even somewhat more developed in Japan).

If I remember correctly, the literal translation of '夷' or 'barbarian' that is often used in older historical texts carries a much more negative connotation than the more nuanced translation, which simply means 'non-Han' or 'non-Chinese'.
posted by dubusadus at 6:50 PM on June 29, 2010


Well if anyone needs an Exotic Other you know where to find me.
posted by divabat at 7:32 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should be more outraged than I am. But I'm not.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:01 AM on June 30, 2010


Some of my language instructor friends in Japan had sidelines pretending to be priests at Japanese weddings for couples who wanted a Western-style ceremony.


Ditto, and cause he looked like a roly poly country priest with robes and all, he got a bunch of work - even got his universal life church or whatever ordination for 30 bucks over the internet or something like that.
posted by The Whelk at 1:51 AM on June 30, 2010


My bro' and sister in law are Asian [Singapore, Malaysia respectively] and everything in their house, from electrical equipment to cars, is European. All his friends are white. He got really REALLY shitty when I remarked that he reminded me of another semi famous Asian. He used the term "Jap crap" when I rocked up to his house in my dad's WRX.

Some serious issues there. I worked with a Eurasian girl who had similar issues but I'll spare you the details for now. Sort of related to the FPP, I think.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:03 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm, maybe I should add "Being White Guy In China" to my C.V. When I went up Mt. Tai, I was stopped several times by people wanting to have their photo taken beside a white guy. Somewhere out there, there are people with holiday snaps of them standing beside a white guy with a confused look on his sweaty face.

Then I rounded a corner and saw people paying to get their picture taken with a monkey, and realised what I was doing wrong.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:53 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


uncanny hengeman, when I was based out of singapore (geographically only, tbh) and consulting professionally, I received advice from quite a few quarters that having a white business partner would not only increase the amount I could charge but open far more doors. one of the reasons i'm up in the arctic now... (controls other snarky comments))
posted by infini at 3:59 AM on June 30, 2010


I once had a similar job for a Japanese company, but sort of on the opposite end. I worked for a medical testing company based out of Yokohama as an American face at an international pharmaceutical conference Washington, DC. I think I was hired because I smiled a lot and could receive all of my instructions in Japanese. My job was to smile at everyone, explain the company's technology in English, posing as an employee.

At first, being an petite lady in her early 20's I thought that no one would by me as a sales rep when I was clearly the youngest person there by about 10 years, and the wrong skin color. However, patron after patron would step over to our booth, survey the collection of nervous looking Japanese executives (everyone was terrified that their English was terrible) and then make a beeline over to me. I would then explain the company's technology, hand out samples, and answer questions with my best fake-confident tone. I was asked for my card so often (I didn't have one) that I ended up handing out business cards for a "coworker", claiming that I had run out.

I originally thought I'd been hired as a lackey, someone to get coffee and hand out knick-knacks. But when people started to bring me coffee and stand aside while I talked, I realized what my real job was supposed to be. Fortunately, in this case, I think it was more the language skills than my race that got me the job, but it was still weird pretending to be someone I was clearly unqualified to be. I will say that the pay was good and the after-work drinks were free.
posted by Alison at 6:16 AM on June 30, 2010


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