Striving for ScienceChapters List
Chapter 14: Take Unfair Advantage
The driver who was taking Shen Changan home was probably an employee hired by Dao Nian, because Changan noticed he was exceptionally polite. At every red light, the driver would ask if he was thirsty, hungry, or tired.
Shen Changan, who had just eaten his fill at Dao Nian's place and carried a large bag of ingredients and fruits: "..."
At a busy intersection, an elderly lady, frail and unsteady on her feet, was attempting to cross. She had only made it halfway when the traffic signal changed, and the cars waiting for the traffic light to change in the back saw that the car in front was still not moving, they impatiently began honking their horns.
The urgent blaring of horns only made the old woman more anxious. She wanted to pick up the pace, but her physical condition wouldn't allow it.
"What are you doing running out at such an old age?!"
"Doesn't she have anyone at home? Letting an elderly person like her go out alone?!"
After the recent rain, the weather hadn't cooled down; instead, it felt a bit stuffy. One of the drivers had a short temper and couldn't help but lean out of his window and shout a couple of times.
Other drivers, however, couldn't stand it. They retorted, "You don't have elderly people at home? Why are you yelling?"
The man who initially shouted looked somewhat embarrassed and muttered under his breath before rolling up his window. Around the intersection, the intermittent blaring of horns turned the pedestrian crosswalk in the middle of the road into an isolated island.
Shen Changan turned to the driver and said, "Brother, please wait for me."
The driver was momentarily stunned but then saw him get out of the car. Shen Changan sprinted to the old woman, lifted her, and carried her to the other side of the street. And within less than two minutes, he returned to the car.
Hearing the slightly hurried panting of the young man, the driver steered the car through the intersection. "Mr. Shen, they say that doing good deeds brings good luck. Would you like to buy a lottery ticket later? You might just hit the jackpot."
"If winning the lottery were that easy, who would bother to work?" Shen Changan waved his hand dismissively. "I won't join in on that excitement."
He remembered when he was a child, he sat on his father's shoulders as they strolled through the streets. There were many people selling scratch-off lottery tickets, and he wanted to join in the fun. So, his father bought a few tickets for him. Surprisingly, he won a quilt after scratching just two of them.
He was overjoyed and coaxed his father into buying ten more tickets. However, this time, he didn't win anything at all.
Dad held his hand and said, "Getting something for nothing can lead to a fleeting sense of joy, but life isn't a perpetual windfall. Dad hopes that our Xiao You, even without relying on gambling or praying to gods or Buddhas, will become a strong, successful man who can stand tall in this world on his own."
On that day, his father accompanied him to give the won blanket to a lonely old woman. When they returned home, they realized that they had forgotten to buy the military cap he wanted most.
His father promised to take him to the store the next day, but that same evening, he received a call from his team and hurriedly left the house.
His last words to his father were, "Dad, please come back soon."
"Mr. Shen, the community where you live is here." The driver suddenly spoke, bringing Shen Changan back from his memories. He looked out the window and thanked the driver.
"No need to be polite," the driver stepped out of the car and opened the door for him. "Let me help you carry it up."
"No, no," Shen Changan quickly declined. "Our complex only allows temporary parking outside. If you stay too long, you'll get a parking ticket. Thank you for today, and you should go home and rest."
"It's my honor to drive Mr. Shen home." Seeing that Shen Changan really didn't want him to assist to carry the bags home, the driver said regretfully, "Then when you have the chance in the future, please ride in my car again."
Shen Changan quickly agreed, and once the driver had driven away, he let out a sigh of relief. It seemed that the people Dao Nian had arranged were too enthusiastic. He wondered if their job was primarily to flatter and offer compliments, otherwise their demeanor was simply just too warm.
Their warmth, which made him feel delicate like a flower, made him a bit apprehensive.
He wasn't sure how many vegetables and fruits Liu Mao had packed for him, but the bag was quite heavy. Finally, his refrigerator at home had a purpose.
Climbing up several flights of stairs, Shen Changan heard the sound of a door opening on the fourth floor. He looked up and saw the stern face of Grandpa Zhang.
"You ran off to someone else's fields to dig up food..." Grandpa Zhang's perpetually displeased expression suddenly changed. He took a few steps and stood in front of Shen Changan, staring at him with a serious expression. "What did you eat outside?"
Shen Changan instinctively stepped back. He didn't realize that Grandpa Zhang was so agile. He lowered his head and sniffed his sleeve, detecting a faint smell of hotpot. "I had a hotpot with a friend."
Grandpa Zhang stared at him for a long moment, his serious expression slowly returning to his usual displeased one. "No wonder the smell is so strong."
"Is it really that noticeable that you can smell it from several meters away?" Shen Changan sniffed and then took out a handful of vegetables from his bag, handing them to Grandpa Zhang. "My friend gave these vegetables to me. I can't finish them all by myself, and they'll go bad if I leave for a few more days. You should take some home to eat."
"Green vegetables?" Grandpa Zhang looked at the dripping green vegetables in his hand, then looked at him with a complicated expression. "Since you're willing to give them to me, then I won't be polite. Wait here."
He turned and went inside, quickly returning with a large box that he handed to Shen Changan. "It contains a thousand-year- old wild ginseng. Use it to make a nourishing stew."
Exchanging a bunch of vegetables for a thousand-year-old ginseng, no matter whether it was real or fake, Shen Changan felt like a big swindler who had taken advantage. "Grandpa Zhang, these are just some vegetables. You don't have to..."
"Do you look down on my ginseng?" Grandpa Zhang raised an eyebrow, his expression seeming to say, "If you do not accept it, I'll blow your head off." Shen Changan felt a bit intimidated and reluctantly stuffed the ginseng into his bag of vegetables.
"If you like these vegetables, I can make some extra when I cook dinner tonight. We can share a meal," Shen Changan suggested, thinking that Grandpa Zhang would refuse. But to his surprise, Grandpa Zhang hesitated for less than three seconds before nodding his head.
He really was a strange old man.
Back at home, Shen Changan stuffed everything into the refrigerator. No wonder the bag was so heavy; it turned out that besides vegetables and fruits, it also contained two fresh, lean pieces of meat and a few bones. Fresh bones couldn't be left for too long, and not wanting to waste anything, he cleaned the bones and put them in a pot to simmer.
After preparing the ingredients for dinner, Shen Changan sat on the sofa, feeling a bit bored. He picked up his phone and sent a message to Dao Nian. He had visited Dao Nian's home today, eaten his food, and even taken some with him, so he felt a bit embarrassed.
Changan: Dao Nian, have you woken up from your nap?
Seeing the full stop, Shen Changan knew he was awake. He chatted with him, even though the other side will only reply to him with one or two words or punctuation marks, it didn't dampen his enthusiasm.
He used to be a chatterbox when he was a child, and while he had become more normal over the years, he still hadn't completely overcome his chattiness. In the end, he even mentioned Grandpa Zhang, who had exchanged a thousand-year-old wild ginseng for a bunch of vegetables.
Changan: I feel like I'm a swindler taking advantage of a lonely old man.
Nian: You didn't take advantage.
Holding his phone, Shen Changan rolled on the sofa. With such a righteous tone, he almost believed it himself.
Changan: I can't finish all these vegetables. We have a day off the day after tomorrow. Would you like to come to my place and taste my cooking?
Dao Nian gazed at the phone screen with his usual indifference. He never interacted with humans more than necessary, and going to someone else's house was a bit troublesome.
However, once in a while, it seems ......it does not matter?
After dinner was ready, Shen Changan went downstairs to knock on Grandpa Zhang's door. As soon as he knocked, the door swung open. Grandpa Zhang was dressed in a Zhongshan suit, his hands clasped behind his back. "Dinner is ready. Let's go."
Looking at Grandpa Zhang's demeanor, Shen Changan had a momentary feeling of encountering a big shot.
During their meal, he watched in astonishment as Grandpa Zhang downed half the pot of soup. Changan quickly retrieved a box of digestion aid tablets from a drawer and handed it to him. "Grandpa Zhang, would you like to take a few of these?"
"No need." Grandpa Zhang wiped his mouth with a napkin, looking mysteriously profound. "Do you know why you're the only one living on this floor?"
Shen Changan: "Maybe they all went to other places."
There were four apartments on each floor of this building, but it wasn't surprising that some apartments were vacant, possibly because some young people in Wuming City go out to work and mostly only elderly are left to live in the countryside
"Heh," Grandpa Zhang smiled, as if he were amused by his ignorance. "Before you moved in, there was another family living on this floor. However, they moved out in less than two weeks. Do you know why?"
"Maybe they didn't like the fact that this building doesn't have an elevator, and climbing the stairs every day was too tiring?" Shen Changan thought for a while. "Going up and down the stairs every day can indeed be exhausting."
Grandpa Zhang's previous mysterious expression was replaced by frustration, "You're a young man, can't you be more active, broad, and novel in your thinking?"
"Or maybe they had huge debts and were afraid of being discovered by their enemies, so they had to keep moving." Shen Changan felt that Grandpa Zhang's reprimand was justified. Sometimes reality was more bloody and melodramatic than novels and TV dramas.
"What debt? It's because this building is haunted." Grandpa Zhang tossed two digestive aid tablets into his mouth. "You've been living here for over a month, haven't you noticed that there are very few residents in this building?"
Noticing him taking tablets, Shen Changan, afraid of annoying him, pretended not to see it. "Although I haven't seen how many residents are in this building, I haven't seen a ghost either. Grandpa Zhang, there's no basis for talking about ghosts and spirits. It's good that you have a reverence for these things, but don't get too obsessed. If you encounter something, you should call the police..."
"You know fart!" Grandpa Zhang snorted. "You're blessed with merit and aura, but you're just an ordinary person who can't see beyond the physical realm. It's a total waste."
Shen Changan: "..."
We are all ordinary mortals, so let's not dislike each other.
"So, tell me, where's the ghost on my floor?" Unable to reason with the old man, Shen Changan had to rely on facts to make him come to his senses.
"It was an earthbound spirit. She couldn't stand the golden aura of your merits any longer. She took advantage of the rainy weather yesterday and escaped from the building," Grandpa Zhang said while swallowing four more tablets. "If she doesn't leave, her soul will scatter because of your merits."
"Oh." Shen Changan stood up with an indifferent expression and began to put away the dishes. "Grandpa Zhang, you can watch TV for a while. I'll go wash the dishes."
Grandpa Zhang: "I didn't lie to you."
Shen Changan nodded with a knowing smile, "Yes, I know."
Grandpa Zhang: "..."
But your face clearly says, "I'll quietly watch you say nonsense." You know fart!
"Why wash the dishes? I'll take you to see the ghost now!" Grandpa Zhang stood up from his chair. "If I don't show you today, my name won't be Zhang!"
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