Chapter 34: Personal Limits and Professional Ethics
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“He hung up on you? He didn’t say anything else?” Mei Xiawen tilted his head to look at the room at the end of the corridor, “Was it not a good time? Maybe he had a guest.”
Gu Nianzhi frowned. “I’m not sure. He didn’t saything and hung up before I could finish.”
Meanwhile, He Zhichu was sitting in the single seater sofa before the French windows in his room. He held an application form and stared at the one 1″x1″ photograph for a few minutes. He then called Wen Shouyi, his teaching assistant who lived next door. “Shouyi, come over for a second.”
Next door, Wen Shouyi closed her laptop. She fluffed her hair in the mirror and changed into heels before coming out. As soon as she exited, she saw a young man and a young woman at the other end of the corridor. They made an attractive pair—the man was slender and elegant, while the woman was delicate and beautiful. She eyed them before knocking on He Zhichu’s door.
Gu Nianzhi persisted in continuously calling He Zhichu’s phone. He Zhichu didn’t answer right away, but let it ring relentlessly for a full 15 minutes before pressing on the speaker phone button. Wen Shouyi quietly stood behind him.
Gu Nianzhi’s mellifluous voice filled the room. “Am I speaking with Professor He Zhichu? I’m sorry to bother you, I’m—”
“If you knew you were bothering me and still continued to call, that means it was deliberate, which is even worse.” He Zhichu’s voice was steely, shocking Gu Nianzhi to the point she almost forgot what she wanted to say.
She was quick to recover and hurriedly said, “But you didn’t answer all this time and never told me if you are Professor He Zhichu. How was I being deliberate? I didn’t know, so I only attempted to validate.”
“Oh? So you’re saying it’s my fault?” He Zhichu’s wide brow raised as if he were offended, but his expression displayed no annoyance. Rather, he smiled briefly, and then with a flash in his almond eyes, the smile faded.
“Of course I can’t say it’s your fault.” Gu Nianzhi quietly sighed. It was a tentatively earned victory as long as he didn’t hang up.
She flashed a thumbs up at Mei Xiawen. Her face was beaming as she continued glibly. “I can only say it was a communication issue, thus we need more modes of communication. Professor He Zhichu, can you please give me another chance? The last two times I missed the interview, I really—”
Hearing Gu Nianzhi mention missing the interview twice, He Zhichu’s face became stony once more. He despised tardiness, and not only had Gu Nianzhi been absent, but she done it twice. This crossed the line.
He Zhichu sat on the sofa with one hand supporting his head and the other draped on the armrest. He impatiently said, “Late is late, missed is missed. No matter the reason, the fact remains that it is your problem. You don’t have to tell me and I don’t want to hear it.”
He Zhichu’s icy refusal angered Gu Nianzhi. Her fingers clamped on the phone cord and her voice was sharper than usual. ” Professor He Zhichu, is that you?”
“If you are Professor He Zhichu, I’d like to ask why it is that you won’t listen to my explanation?”
“Because this is my personal limit. Your actions have crossed my personal limit.” He Zhichu did not mince his words; his eyes were hard and his tone unrelenting.
Standing behind him, Wen Shouyi smirked. She knew Professor He Zhichu’s temper best—he never went back on his words. Even in the face of many requests by rich and powerful at the Harvard School of Law, he had never once catered to anyone. This Gu Nianzhi was too insolent. Wen Shouyi shook her head with only a small feeling of pity.
Who could know though, that the Gu Nianzhi on the other end of the line would be even more audacious than what Wen Shouyi had thought, as she began to directly challenge He Zhichu’s limits. “Professor He, I respect your limits but I want to ask you: do your personal limits have any conflict with the professional ethics you are required to abide by?”
Oh? What a smart little mouth, He Zhichu thought. He couldn’t help perking up, his interest piqued. “My personal limits certainly have no conflict with my professional ethics.”
“If you say there is no conflict, I would like to ask you that as a B University law professor, shouldn’t you abide by the rules and regulations of B University?”
He Zhichu was an eloquent lawyer in court, so how could a fresh newbie like Gu Nianzhi quip back at him so effortlessly? However, this didn’t compel He Zhichu to stop Gu Nianzhi from continuing, and so listened quietly.
Gu Nianzhi went on. “I applied as a B University Faculty of Law post-grad student as per regulations. Although I was late twice, the B University Faculty of Law guidelines for examinees state that ‘if the examinee is late due to force majeure,1 it is not considered the examinee’s fault. The school shall give the examinee another opportunity for the final interview.'”
“I had suddenly become seriously ill, and that is force majeure. I’m only human; it is not possible for me to remain immune to every manner of illness or infection, right? I have a medical certificate from an authoritative physician from the finest hospital in the Empire. No matter where this case is presented, I am not unjustifiable.”
Gu Nianzhi finished eloquently and awaited He Zhichu’s answer.
A wrinkle of a smile emerged on the corner of He Zhichu’s lips, but his tone remained dry. “So what? You crossed the boundary of what I can accept, so I don’t want to give you another chance.”
“That was the point of my previous question. Professor He, may I ask again whether your personal limits are in conflict with you professional ethics? As a B University law professor, your professional ethic is to abide to the rules and regulations of B University and the B University Faculty of Law. In the B University: Faculty of Law Rules and Regulations, nowhere does it state that being absent twice due to extenuating circumstances will result in the disqualification for an interview. It serves to show that you are using your personal preferences, instead of the university’s rules and regulations, as your measure of principles. As an esteemed figure in the profession of law, your disregard of the law and using your personal ideals to interfere in your duties means that you are lacking in your professional ethics.” Gu Nianzhi was certain He Zhichu was abusing his powers, and even doubted his professional ethics.
This girl has done it now! Wen Shouyi covered her mouth in shock and couldn’t utter a single sentence.
He Zhichu nodded his head and maintained his relaxed posture, his head supported by his arms. He opened his eyes and addressed her. ” Gu Nianzhi, you persistently found opportunity despite my numerous rejections. This spirit of perseverance is rare and commendable for a law student. You didn’t submit in the face of rebuttals from authority, but were brave enough to question authority and respected the spirit of the law. Your determination to never compromise is rare for law students. Well, Gu Nianzhi, you did not disappoint me as the top student in your class. I’ll give you another chance.”
What a reversal of fortune! What good luck! Gu Nianzhi was so ecstatic she could hardly resist jumping up and down.
She didn’t care that she was still holding the phone as she did this, and grinned at Mei Xiawen. “Class Rep! Class Rep! Did you hear that? I got the chance for another interview!”