I missed this in yesterday's People's Daily, but had to post it today:
"Grandparents" rental service offered in Beijing
A newly established company in Beijing has offered a novel service to rent "grandparents" so as to deal with housemaid pinch, which is resulted from the fact that most housemaids will return home for family reunion during the forthcoming New Year and Spring Festival holidays.
Healthy retirees, aged over 50, with good educational background and patience with children, are wanted by the company. More than 40 elderly people have applied for the job since the company's opening. The monthly salary of the "grandparents" will range between 600 yuan to 3,000 yuan.
Let's just start by resisting the urge to say that this has something to do with China's "Confucian" tradition, which venerates elders. It seems much more in keeping with that other pillar of Chinese tradition, Karl Marx, who tells us that capitalist development, through the agency of the bourgeoisie, "has left no other nexus between people
than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment"."
I mean, why bother referring to elderly housemaids as "grandparents"? I know, I know, it's all about marketing, and "grandparents" makes it sound nicer for the stressed out yuppies caught in the lurch as their usual housemaids take a few days off for Spring Festival. And, of course, the other side of this story, not mentioned in the paper, is the growing problem older people on fixed or limited incomes have making ends meet in booming Beijing. So, maybe it is just the "magic of the marketplace," everyone's interest being served by the exchange of money for services. But I keep hearing old Karl in the back of my head.....