They Would Get A Fake Backstory, And Very Little Time To Memorize It
How much Donald and the other rent-a-foreigners would have to actually interact with Chinese attendees varied, but often, merely smiling and looking white wasn’t enough. They’d need a fake name and backstory, which they would have to play up in conversations … information they would often be given just minutes before. “Sometimes we were told before we left, ‘You’re an investor from Florida. This company makes silicone products. This is your name. Here are your business cards. Hand them out.’ Other times, I would get an email with flight info and who to meet. That’s it.”
You might think that leaving all of that for the last minute sounds like a terrible idea and/or a comic relief bit in Ocean’s 12. You’d be right. On one job, Donald had two hours to prepare on a car ride from the airport to the factory, learning a new identity and all sorts of facts and figures about the metal industry and U.S.-China trade. Oh, and to memorize a speech without cards.
“Inside, we all messed up. The speeches were all over the place. I got part of my name wrong — I used my real last name by accident, and I had to pretend it was my middle name. We mistook some workers for bosses. One of us even bowed terribly in the Japanese style because he thought it was universal across Asia. He even asked about sumo wrestling [a distinctly Japanese thing] to THE MAYOR, which was bad, because our host had told us like ten times to not say anything unless spoken to.”
And yet it worked. “We pulled it off. They were impressed. I knew enough of the language to know that the mayor and people from the factory were excited.” It usually didn’t matter what they said or did, as long as they said and did it as white people.