Message in an Ipad box

I received the following as an email a few days ago and thought it was interesting enough to share with you here-

“Just wanted to share with you a message I received from my soon-to-be brother-in-law. He wrote:

On a completely unrelated and weird note, a few minutes ago I was breaking apart the box for the smart cover I recently bought for my iPad and discovered Chinese writing on the inner cardboard surface of the box. The writing was hidden between two layers that were glued together and I only found it because I was physically breaking apart the box. We immediately started to speculate about what it could possibly say and then I realized you may be able to read it. Anyway, if you have a minute and if you’re interested, would you mind taking a look at the attached picture for us? I’m praying it’s not the last will and testament of a depressed Foxconn worker or something terrible like that. More than likely it’s probably nothing, but we’re curious to know either way. Thanks a lot for your help.

The image is attached. Kind of hard to read, but it turns out it is not a suicide note, but a forlorn love letter. Nonetheless, it’s a good reminder that things like ipads may look like sterile, perfectly homogeneous products of the future, but are actually made by real people with real (if slightly melodramatic) feelings. I also like the idea that the author assumed the message could be thrown into the Apple distribution network like a bottle into the ocean, with virtually no chance that it would ever be seen–but it was!

Anyway, just thought it was a cool anecdote that might be of interest to you / your team.”

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About T

I have been working in China for nearly five years now. I have traveled to more than 30 cities and towns, and have lived in 3 provinces. I am interested in issues concerning development in China and the rest of the world. I hope to provide a balanced look at some of the issues facing China as it continues its rise to power.
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23 Responses to Message in an Ipad box

  1. wordpress says:

    Actually not a “forlorn love letter” but the lyric of a song named “《错错错》”. The song was a top 10 single on charts 2010.

  2. What a relief! A love letter or maybe a karaoke prompt-board (perhaps from a still-depressed/lovestricken Foxconned worker). In the printing industry, we get quite a bit of hidden messages in our paper rolls and pallets. Most tend to be rants about low pay, imperious foremen, insolent bosses, bad working conditions, that sort of thing. One printing associate I know really did discover someone’s last will and testament scrawled into his paper reams – frightened the living daylights out of him. Changed his life completely when the message sunk in. Hope I don’t get that kind of message myself.

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  4. Yaxue C. says:

    Young workers at Foxcom would have no time for a love letter, I guess, sweet or forlorn. In a way, the song is a ready-made love letter that speaks for the scribe.

    It’s one of those remarkable little incidents of life, and thanks to Tom for putting it here.

    • Yaxue C. says:

      Oh, for those who don’t have any Chinese at all, the title of the song is “Wrong, wrong, wrong,” and the refrain in larger characters at the bottom can be validly translated as “forlorn love, forlorn love….”

  5. The story would take an interesting twist if you could find the author.

  6. Niko says:

    Thanks Tom for posting, this is indeed interesting. Whether it’s song lyrics or not, I like that the worker wanted to do that.
    If only there were a way to communicate back. I’ve always wondered what they think about things they manufacture for export. Like crappy novelty gifts (trucker hat with a fake turd and ‘shithead’ on it?) or XXXXL tshirts.

    • Same here, Niko. I wonder what they make of sex toys and other stuff they assemble. Tom should do a perspective piece like that – would be absolutely brilliant to read.

      • Tom says:

        I’m working on setting up an ongoing project with former students to share their work experiences, but these things take time, and ask a lot of time of these workers.

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  8. macroidtoe says:

    Reminds me of the some of the hidden messages from Japanese programmers that have been found in old NES roms.

    • Oh, yeah. Just like those Finnish music trackers back in the 1990s embedding all sorts of lurid messages and phone numbers of chicks into their tracks. Ah, those were the days…

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  11. M says:

    cool story, if I would be able to see attached photo from China it would be even cooler (same with all recent posts with photos) or Tom expects that all of his readers are using proxy to read his blog?

    • Tom says:

      I hadn’t been aware of the problem, since I’m always working with a VPN on. I’ll play with it over the next few days and see if their is a solution. Are you reading on the site or with an RSS reader?

      • M says:

        reading on the site, the problem is pictures are hosted on WordPress domain which is blocked in China

  12. Dear Tom, I hope you don’t mind me using the image of the letter in my blog post. I’ve linked back to you. Many thanks for such an unusual story with a personal touch. Many thanks.里的一颗迷茫的爱/

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  14. Reblogged this on Janet's Craft and commented:
    I love Tom’s recent blog post about a human soul in south China and an iPad in the west. It is such a bitter-sweet story that really touched my heart. The story is amusing, yet also humbling. We’re thousands of miles away from a Foxconn factory in south China, and yet a casual hand-written ‘letter’ has closed the gap and I can’t help but imagine a broken hearted young man on a production line, yearning for love and freedom. Would someone like to turn it into a film, or find out who this poor soul is?

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