The Uncanny Tailor (of Jinzhou)
It was late afternoon. Orlando Jones was teaching a film class. She was doing the semiotics of tailoring as an example of how the students might approach an analysis of the (cinematic) construction of the socio-economic differences between two characters. Orlando Jones was attempting to draw their attention to how one of these characters habitually dressed in polyester and vinyl (it was a movie winter) and that the other wore an expensive looking grey suit with matching grey woollen overcoat and a well shaped and dented (in exactly the right place and to the correct depth) grey felt fedora. Orlando Jones asked the students what indicators might provide a clue to the estimated cost of such an outfit. She pointed out that the suit was exceptionally well cut and tailored - it fitted the character as if it had been made for his body (and probably had). This was the first (and perhaps only) time that Orlando Jones had discussed the semiotics of tailoring in a lecture and the entire analysis of the character's 'tailoring' occupied less than one minute.
In the middle of this minor detour into the intricacies of tailoring, one of the administration assistants from the Department appeared at the door of the lecture room, indicating that Orlando Jones should speak with her. This had never happened before. Orlando Jones was slightly alarmed, thinking that there must be some emergency, while having no idea what an emergency for her in a Chinese University might have been. She went with the administrator to the departmental office, still worried. In the office she was introduced to a Chinese woman who was wearing a tape measure around her neck in the manner of tailors. Orlando Jones was speechless (in both English and Chinese). The woman was indeed a tailor and had come to measure Orlando Jones for a down padded vest which was to be a gift from the Foreign Affairs Office and would be made to fit her exactly. Orlando Jones was truly astonished, partly because of the gift giving capacity of the Chinese, and partly because being called out of class to be measured by a tailor was a first for her. Until this moment, she was unaware of the planned gift so the appearance of the tailor came as a complete surprise. What really rattled her though was the strange coincidence of being measured by the tailor in the middle of conducting the only semiotics of tailoring in a lecture that she was ever likely to do. Orlando Jones felt as though she had accidentally rubbed some invisible lamp and miraculously conjured a tailor.
She returned to class and began a semiotics of differences in incomes.