The Chronicle of Mr. “Close Enough”
By Hu Shi
Do you know who the most famous person in China is? His name is a well-known phrase to everyone, everywhere. In Chinese, his surname means ‘Enough’ and his given name would be ‘Close’. He could be from any village, any county, and any province. You must have seen him, or heard people talking about him. The name of Mr. ‘Close Enough’ is on our lips every day, because he is like the representative of the Chinese people.
Mr. Close Enough looks ordinary, just like you and I. He has a pair of eyes, which unfortunately does not see clearly. He has a pair of ears, which hears rather poorly. As for his nose and mouth, they are not particularly sensitive to tastes and smells. His brain, although not small, has poor memory and his thoughts are not at all analytical.
What he often says is “as long as it is close enough, we are fine. Why bother being precise?”
When he was a child, his mother sent him to buy brown sugar, but he brought back white sugar instead. When reprimanded, he shook his head and said “brown sugar and white sugar, are they not close enough?”
In school, his teacher once asked him “which province borders Hebei on the west side?” He answered Shaanxi. His teacher said “The answer is wrong. It should be Shanxi.” He said: “Shaanxi and Shanxi, are they not close enough?”
Later he became a clerk in a bank. He could write and calculate, but was not very careful. Often times, he would mistakenly write the Chinese character of 1000 for that of 10, or vice versa. His carelessness infuriated his boss, who often berated him. He would grin as though apologizing and say, “The characters of 1000 and 10, don’t they look close enough?”
One day, he had to take the train to Shanghai for an urgent matter. He strolled unhurriedly to the train station, and found he was two minutes late. He could not believe that the train had already left the station. As he watched the smoke billowing from the vanishing train, he shook his head:’’ It seems that I will have to leave tomorrow. Today and tomorrow are close enough, but the train company is just overly punctual. Is 8:32 not close enough to 8:30”? Grumbling to himself, he walked slowly home, puzzled as to why the train couldn’t have waited just 2 more minutes for him.
One day, he came down with an acute illness. He sent a family member to fetch Dr. Wong from the Eastern Avenue. The family member, in a hurry, couldn’t find Dr. Wong from the Eastern Avenue, but instead brought back a cow doctor, Dr. Wang from the Western Avenue. Mr. Close Enough, as sick as he was lying on the bed, knew that it was not the right doctor, but as he was in such great pain and too worried to wait any longer, he thought, “This Dr. Wang seems to be close enough to the other Dr. Wang. Why not let him have a try?” Thus the wrong Dr. Wang came to his bed, and applied the method he used as a vet to treat cows to Mr. Close Enough. In less than one hour, Mr. Close Enough was dead.
When Mr. Close Enough was about to die, he gasped: “A live man… and a dead man… are close enough. As long as… it is close enough, we are fine. Why bother… to be so precise?” Having finished his mantra, he took his last breath.
After his death, people applauded Mr. Close Enough as being very wise and philosophical. People said he had always been undemanding and easygoing so therefore, virtuous. As a result, they gave him the title “Grand Master of Flexibility” posthumously.
His fame grew further and wider with time to the extent that countless numbers of people today are emulating him. Consequently, everyone has become a Mr. Close Enough and China has now become a nation of lazy people.