Saturday, February 28, 2009

For sale: One life in China

Chen Xiao had pretty much given up making her own decisions and so decided to throw open her life to the whims of China's hundreds of millions of Internet users, known in China as netizens."It's your right to arrange Chen Xiao's life, and it's my obligation to serve you," read her online shop.Since December, Chen has been allowing others to decide what she will do each day, because, for the most part, last year was awful, she said.

Her hometown was hit by blizzards, her country rocked by a devastating earthquake, friends divorced and her clothing shop went bankrupt."Every time I had a plan for what I wanted my life to be like, nothing would come of it. It was very disappointing. I figured if other people came up with things for me to do, I might stumble upon something new and better."

What she stumbled upon was not only a new life but a new way to make a living. She charges about $3 an hour, and she's been asked to do almost everything from delivering pet food to caring for stray cats to taking a hot lunch to a homeless man.What surprised her the most was not so much the varied requests but being able to find happiness in the process."If somebody asks you to do something, something simple, and you do it, it can make you very happy.

You can change from a gloomy person to a very bright one. It can help give you a new sense of self-esteem," she said.So far, the most meaningful assignment she was given was attending a child's birth -- the father was a complete stranger who just wanted someone to take pictures and share the moment.

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