Receptionist had horror stories about stubborn old lady. But when the boss went to see her—something had changed

January 8, 2018 6:52 pm Last Updated: January 9, 2018 12:01 pm

A construction company manager in China was watching sheets of rain devour the streets when his receptionist told him about a woman who had just visited.

It was an elderly woman she called “Auntie Su,” who said her home had been flooded “with water pouring in from three unground locations.”

There just so happened to be a construction project going on in front of her house, so the woman went to see the construction company, hoping they would look into it and see if there was a connection. The water was already a foot high when she left the house, and it was still rising.

The manager was horrified and decided to leave immediately—but the receptionist stopped him in his tracks.

“Don’t rush it. I know this lady,” she confided. The receptionist had been neighbors with this old woman 20 years ago, and everyone in the building had nicknamed her Red Hot Chili Pepper—“because she was difficult to get along with.” To explain why, she told him a horror story of just how frustrating she was.

“One time she had a fight with a co-worker and was not happy with the way her employer resolved the issue. So she took her two children, who were under the age of 5, to her boss’s office and just left them. She then disappeared for two weeks.”

The receptionist added that in this pouring rain, they wouldn’t be able to start repair work anyway. She suggested he send someone to check out the place after the rain stopped and then they could make a decision as to whether they would proceed.

It did sound reasonable, so he agreed.

The next day, the manager and some staff members went to see Auntie Su’s ground floor apartment. On the way, they ended up talking to many of her neighbors in the 30-unit building—and they all shared very revealing stories.

One of the first things they noticed was how ill-tempered most people were and how most of the apartment tenants did not really like their neighbors.

But when Auntie Su’s name was brought up, the reactions were like night and day.

“Everyone said that she was a kind person and always did good things,” he recounted later. “Everyone could list a few of them.”

One time, the lock on the building’s front door was broken, remained unfixed, and no one wanted to take the responsibility to take care of it. But then Auntie Su purchased a new lock herself, had the door repaired, and gave out keys to each tenant.

Another time, a big water pipe broke and no one wanted construction work done near their apartment—which would be necessary to install a new pipe. So Auntie Su volunteered to let the workers install the pipe under her home.

After hearing so many stories like these, the construction manager wondered whether they’d gotten these elderly ladies mixed up. Was there someone else named Auntie Su?

Three days later, he returned with some workers to assess the damage and begin repairs, and finally met the famous Auntie Su.

He came face-to-face with a woman who looked young and vibrant, although she was actually in her 70s, with dark black hair and skin without wrinkles.

Before he could say anything, she showed him the underground drainage ditch and told him, “If the ditch is blocked by sediment due to poor maintenance, then that will be my responsibility to repair it, and I’ll pay the three workers’ salary—100 yuan per laborer. If the problem was caused by your company, you’ll have to pay them.”

(KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

By now, he was wondering if his receptionist had lied to him about his Auntie Su.

Curious and skeptical, the manager asked Auntie Su, “Were you always like this?”

She didn’t think the question was strange at all and replied that her reputation must have preceded her.

“You must have heard something about me,” she said. “No, I was not like this 20 years ago.”

“Back then my nickname was ‘Red Hot Chili Pepper,'” she continued. She described to him how she had been heavily affected by Chinese society under communist rule—where everyone is taught to only look out for themselves, and this extreme and selfish way of thinking was accepted as the right thing to do. She didn’t know any better.

“I was fearless. No one could force me or persuade me to do what I didn’t want to do. My parents had no control over me; my siblings couldn’t influence me; and my employer couldn’t manage me. The reality was that society didn’t educate people well. No one cared about anybody else.”

Then the manager asked her, “But how did you become who you are now?”

She smiled at him and told him a story. In 1996, she came across a book, “Zhuan Falun,” which detailed a practice that taught how to be a good person, and it included slow qigong exercises that had improved so many people’s health. She learned that a kind person doesn’t have to hit back when attacked, or insult someone if they are insulted. She read about the importance of being truthful, compassionate, and tolerant, and learned that by not worrying so much about her own suffering, she became happy.

However, three years later, the ruling communist party banned the book and the practice called Falun Dafa, spreading lies about the people who followed the teachings.

The communist party’s human resources run deep, as everyone is expected to join the party in some way in Chinese society. A committee member from Auntie Su’s apartment building was “assigned” to watch her—however, shortly after he was put on this assignment, the man’s wife fell and damaged her spine. A doctor had told this man it would be at least three months before his wife would recover.

When Auntie Su heard about this, she visited his wife to wish her well.

“She was in bed and in a lot of pain,” she said. They ended up talking, and Auntie Su explained about the beauty of Falun Dafa, so she would understand that the propaganda being created by the communist party was not true. She gave her an amulet as a gift, and told her “Falun Dafa is good.” She told her to remember that “truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance”—the universal values that Falun Dafa teaches—were good and wonderful, not bad. It would aid in her recovery, she said. The woman agreed, and they parted ways on good terms.

Auntie Su later found out that, miraculously, she was able to walk again in just seven days—far short of the 100 days the doctors predicted.

She had heard of miracles of health and recovery from practicing and respecting Falun Dafa, but this had happened so close to home. When this woman’s husband found out, he was so astonished he felt he couldn’t bring himself to spy on her.

This wasn’t the last miracle Auntie Su had experienced either: she told the manager other amazing stories, and astonishing as everything sounded, he believed her.

“So that’s how you changed,” he said.

Before he left, he went to examine the work on the ditch, and the laborers told him it was indeed their company’s fault, as their construction had blocked up the drainage under her building.

But Auntie Su just smiled and said to him, “Let’s not focus on whose fault it is. What is important is that it’s fixed. I’ll pay the 300 yuan.”

He could only smile in return.

“You really are a good person,” he said.