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刘宾雁 在桥梁工地上 translation: At the Bridge Construction Site, Pt 2 (Liu Binyan)

This is Part 2 in a translation of the 1956 reportage fiction piece 在桥梁工地上 (At the Bridge Construction Sites) by the Chinese writer 刘宾雁 (Liu Binyan). Liu wrote the piece during Mao’s Hundred Flowers Campaign (百花运动), and was soon victimised for it and labelled a rightist in the following Anti-Rightist Movement (反右派运动).


在桥梁工地上 二

At the Bridge Construction Site Pt 2

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我开始知道年轻的工程师曾刚,是在一九五四年春天。 I began to learn about the young Team Leader Zeng Gang in spring 1956.

一次在工程局施工处等着拿一个资料的时候,听两个职员谈起这个工程师的“怪事”。 Once when I was waiting at the construction office to pick up some materials, I heard two office workers start talking about "strange occurrences" among the engineers.

桥梁队的两个工人家属吵架动了手,一个女人被打伤了,最后扭到法院。 The wives of two workers in the bridge construction team had argued and come to blows, and one woman had got hurt, and it had ended up in court.

出庭作证的人里面,有一个就是工程师曾刚。 One of the people standing as a witness in court was Engineer Zeng Gang.

“多新鲜,”报告这个新闻的职员,最后加上一句自己的评论: "It was refreshing," said the person reporting the incident, and then they added:

“工程师连工人家属打架都管了起来,这还是头一遭儿听说……” "He pays attention if the engineers and even the workers' families get into arguments - I've never heard of anything like it..."

“那有甚么新鲜,”第二个人也提出了自己的意见: "What's new about that?" the other person said, and gave their opinion:

“前些日子人家还给部长写过一封信呢。” "A few days ago he even wrote a letter to the department head."

“甚么?别瞎扯了!” "What? Don't talk nonsense!"

“信不信由你。信是请报社转去的。 "Believe it or not - it's up to you. The letter got passed on to the newspaper office.

听说还打听过有没有回信呢……” I heard that he even enquired whether there had been any response..."

这两条新闻是不是确有其事,我没去了解。 I didn't go to find out whether or not these two stories were true.

引起我注意的,是每逢到工程局来跟有关桥梁建筑的部门打交道时,常常听到关于曾刚的一些传说。 What got my attention was that every time I came into contact with the construction office or the bridge construction department, I would hear stories about Zeng Gang.

事情都一样,意见却分为两派。 The issues were the same, but opinions were divided into two camps.

谈得最多的,当然还不是曾刚在民事诉讼方面的活动或对国际政治局势的兴趣,而是一个工程师任务范围以内的事。 What was discussed most often was of course Zeng Gang's interest in civil appeal movements and international affairs, and things within the realm of engineering.

比方说,多少年来造桥墩的沉井都是在岸上,造好再运到河心的,桥梁队的三分队却建议在钢板桩里、在水下造沉井,说是这样每个沉井可以节省一万多块钱。 For example, for many years the holes for the blocks used to build bridges were in the banks, and then once they'd been built were moved into the heart of the river *[?]*, but Unit 3 from the bridge construction team suggested that they make the holes inside steel cylinders underwater, saying that if they did it this way they could save more than ten thousand _yuan_ per hole.

多少年来,桥身施工的脚手架都是在水上搭的,形状像个楼房,三分队却建议把它挪到岸上来,形状也改变一下,说是可以少用几百根木头…… And for many years, the scaffolding for the bridge body was built over the water, formed like a tower, but Unit 3 from the bridge construction team suggested that they move it onto the bank and change the shape, and that way they could use several hundred less logs.

处长、科长、技术员都对我说过: The Department Head, the Section Chief and the technicians all said to me:

同样一块木料或一立方公分的混凝土,在别处如果只能吃七十公斤的力量,在三分队就得叫它吃一百公斤。 One piece of timber or one square centimetre of concrete would otherwise be required to bear a force of seventy kilograms, but Unit 3 would have it bear one hundred.

三分队新事情最多,而三分队的队长兼主管工程师就是曾刚。 Unit 3 had the most new ideas, and the team leader in charge of Unit 3 was none other than Zeng Gang.

但是传说也不限于这一类技术问题。 But I heard that it wasn't limited to matters of technology.

有一次,施工处的几个年轻人就为曾刚的一个举动展开过一次辩论。 One time, a few young people on the construction side got into an argument over one of Zeng Gang's proposals.

那是抢修渭河桥的时候发生的事。 That happened during repairs on a bridge over the Wei River.

桥墩要垮了,钢梁已经朝便桥这边歪下来,看样子一阵大风就能把它给刮到河里。 The bridge supports were going to collapse, and the steel beams were already bending over the temporary bridge, and it looked as if it would only take a strong gust of wind to knock it all into the river.

几个技术人员都拿不定主意,踌躇不前。 Several technicians had no ideas, hesitated and didn't take any action.

曾刚来了,提出个方案,自己亲自走上了便桥,指挥工人用“千斤顶”把钢梁吊起,然后处理桥墩。 Zeng Gang came and thought of a solution, and went out onto the temporary bridge himself to instruct the workers to use jacks to hoist the steel beams up and then deal with the bridge supports.

一个当时在场的人说,曾刚这种作法本身就是冒险 —— 万一吊不起来怎么办? Someone who was there at the time said that the way Zeng Gang did this was in itself very risky - what if they couldn't hoist them up?

况且,工程师也没必要和工人一起站到便桥上去冒这个生命的危险。 And besides, the engineers didn't have to risk their lives going on to the temporary bridge with the workers.

反对这个意见的人说,曾刚的作法是根据科学的计算和经验,不能叫冒险,事实证明是成功了,至于工程师和工人站在一起,那更没甚么不对—— The people opposed to this opinion said that the calculations and experience behind Zeng Gang's method couldn't be called risky, and were in fact a success, including the engineers and workers standing together; there was nothing wrong with that -

——在工作的紧急关头,工人们知道“工程师也在这里”,是一个很大的鼓励…… during the urgent work, knowing that "the engineers are here" was a great encouragement for the workers...

我听到的许多关于曾刚的意见,放在一起就是一场严重的、针锋相对的争辩。 I heard many opinions about Zeng Gang, and they opposed each other fiercely.

部分人是用钦佩、敬羡的口吻肯定曾刚的大胆精神,另一些人则抱着否定、怀疑的态度,认为这个人冒险,幼稚,不讲究科学…… Some people spoke of Zeng Gang's courageous spirit in admiring, respectful tones, whilst others had attitudes of denial and suspicion, believing that he was a naive risk-taker who didn't pay attention to science.

我听到的,毕竟还是后一种意见更多一些。 From what I heard, slightly more people held the latter opinion.

虽然没有轻易置信,却也受了一定影响。 Although I couldn't be sure of what they said, I had been influenced by them.

在凌口大桥工地上住了几天,工地上的景象,和我预料的完全相反。 Staying at the Lingkou bridge construction site for a few days, I found that the scene of construction was the complete opposite of what I had expected.

这几年采访中所见所闻,使我对于建筑工地的某些混乱状态已经习以为常。 Because of what I had seen and heard during these few years of reporting, I had become accustomed to the chaotic state of affairs at construction sites.

而凌口大桥工地上,却是有条有理,秩序井然。 But at the Lingkou construction site, everything was in perfect order.

这里,几乎找不到一个闲人,也看不出一点忙乱。 You could barely find anyone slacking, and wouldn't see anything rushed or muddled.

人,机器,工具都安放在最合理的地方。 People, machines and tools were all put in the most rational place.

看得出,甚至一个洗石子的地方,一台混凝土搅拌机放在哪里,都是经过一番周密的考虑才安排下来的。 You could see that there was even a place for washing stones, and the placement of every concrete mixer had been thought through thoroughly.

一般工地上常见的恼人的“小搬运”,这里几乎没有。 There were almost none of the little annoyances that you usually saw at construction sites.

我问过不少普通工人,都不仅知道自己今天、明天的任务是甚么,而且了解本小组小队的任务和当前工作中的主要问题在哪里。 I asked many ordinary workers, and not only did they know precisely what their tasks were for that day and the next, they knew about all the issues facing their unit and team at that time.

所以,也就没有工地上常常发生的那种“我在哪儿?”的笑话了。 So, there wasn't any of that "where am I?" joking that you often encounter on construction sites.

分队的计划,每月都超额完成。 Every month each squad exceeded their work quota.

这一切,看来都那么稳当,和“冒险”是一点边儿也沾不上的。 All of this seemed so stable, and the word "risky" didn't apply to it at all.

而桥梁队的其它分队,情形却正好相反: But the other units in the bridge construction team were quite the opposite:

经常是月初窝工,月底加班加点,有的竟同时二者并存; They would often hold back on work at the beginning of the month, and then work overtime at the end, and some of them would even do both at the same time;

每年计划的百分之三十几拖到最后一个月完成,也是常有的事。 Each year, more than thirty percent of the work was completed in the final month, and that was normal for them.

但是从来无人说这种杂乱无章、盲目赶工、大量发生人身、质量事故是冒险,反而觉得那里一切都很正常,很稳当。 But there was never anyone who said that this disordered, messy, blind rush that caused many material and personal accidents was "risky" - in fact they thought it was all normal and stable.

起初,我主要是从工作方法上去考虑了这种差别。 At first, I mainly considered this difference in terms of work methods.

我和曾工程师一起一连坐了两个夜晚,研究和总结他的经验。 Then Engineer Zeng Gang and I sat together for two nights in a row, and he explained and summarised his experience.

他重视计划工作,每次编计划都亲自动手。 He valued working to a plan, and every time there was a plan to be made he would do it himself.

这样每月、每旬队里工作中的各种有利因素、不利因素就都通过他一次脑筋,随时记得。 That way, every month and every fortnight the work in the team had every kind of favourable factor, and he would think through anything unfavourable and remember it.

一切具体措施,都是在这个全盘考虑下作出的。 All of his specific measures came from this comprehensive consideration.

和一般工程技术人员不同,他亲自掌管全队的合理化建议工作,工人提出甚么意见,他随时可以根据当前的和长远的需要及时作出结论,不必经过繁复的登记、审查、批准等手续……如此等等。 He was different from a normal construction technician in that he personally took charge of the rationalisation of the entire team, and if the workers had suggestions, he would always promptly come to a conclusion based on past experience and future needs, and didn't need to complicate matters with the procedure of registering the issue, examining it, approving it... the list went on.

但是谈了两个晚上,我忽然觉得这不是我需要了解的主要之点。 But when we spoke those two evenings, I suddenly felt that this wasn't the important point that I needed to understand.

这几年,施工组织上的经验总结得还算少么? These few years, was the total experience in organising construction still too little?

但是在有些人手下,再成功的经验也行不通。 Yet under the leadership of these people, they wouldn't get experience of succeeding again.

而一到把生产搞到一片混乱、犯了错误的时候,这种人却又挠着头皮,抱歉地(决不是负咎地)微笑着说: And as soon as they put production into disorder, and when when they made mistakes, these people would just scratch their heads and apologetically (but without admitting blame) say with a smile:

“不行啊,都是因为咱们经验不足啊……” "Oops - it's because we lack experience, eh...?"

缺乏经验,当然就无可厚非了: Lacking in experience was of course understandable:

谁能责备一个小学生写了错别字呢? who could blame a primary school student for writing a character incorrectly?

但是不,在很多场合,这不是或至少不完全是经验的问题。 But no, in a lot of situations, this wasn't, or at least wasn't only, an matter of lacking experience.

不,一个心上遮盖了灰尘的人,不可能单依靠别人的经验就能增加自己对于新鲜事物的敏感,正像贪生怕死的人不能从黄继光的作战方法上来学习勇敢一样。 No, someone who intentionally covers their tracks with dust could not rely on the experience of others to improve their sensitivity to new ideas, just as those who are greedy for life but fearful of death cannot use the methods of *_____ [???]* combat to learn how to be brave.

当然,像一切经验一样,曾刚这两天所谈的经验中间,也包含着比方法问题更高也更深刻的东西。 Of course, as with all experience, the experience that Zeng Gang had spoken about over the last two days things that were deeper and went beyond questions of method.

例如,他说“每逢作计划,我只是打个底子,叫工人补充”,“我不怕谈困难,困难在哪儿,一定得告诉工人——只要提出来,就会有办法解决”, For example, he said: "Each time I make a plan, just the basics, I get the workers to supplement it," "I'm not afraid to talk about difficulties - wherever the difficulties are, we have to tell the workers - we've just got to mention them, and there will be a solution for them."

他也激动地说过: He also said excitedly:

“这几年,和工人一起吃一起睡一起工作,才知道劳动的不容易,国家建设的果实来得不易,硬是工人们一滴血一滴汗凝结起来的啊。 "These last few years, I have eaten, worked and slept together with the workers, and only then did I know how difficult physical labour is; the results of building the nation do not come easily, and really it comes with each drip of sweat and each drip of sweat from the workers.

看着工人在水下作业呼吸困难,脸都白了,浇湿了浑身衣服,冻肿了手脚,心里就再也不容许自己有一点疏忽,浪费他们一点力量。 Watching the workers struggle with their breathing whilst working in the water, their faces white, their clothes soaked from head to foot, with their hands and feet frozen and swelling, in my heart I would never let myself be negligent again, or waste any of their strength.

同时,也慢慢懂得了工作有困难才有趣,化的力量越大,干完了越愉快……” At the same time, I slowly realised that work is only meaningful if it is hard, and that the more effort you put in, the more of a joy it is to finish the work..."

这里,都反映了他对工人群众的感情,对工人主动精神的信任。 That reflected his feeling for the mass of workers and his trust and initiative towards them.

他的“联系群众”,也不光是和他们“打成一片”,或者教教他们算术、画图之类的东西(可惜,许多行政干部和技术人员还认为只要跟工人互称“老王”“老李”,或每天和工人一起打上两个钟头扑克,这就是“联系群众”了),而是——想尽办法去组织这些力量,凭自己的技术知识和经验把工人和他们的机械、工作场地安排妥当,使每个工人能最大限度地发挥他的积极性和力量。 His "connecting to the masses" didn't mean just integrating with them, or teaching them arithmetic, design and things like that (what was a shame was that many administrative cadres and technicians though that all you had to do was call the workers "Old Wang" and "Old Li", or play a couple of rounds of poker with them each day, and you would "connect with the masses"); no, it was about thinking of ways to organise this strength, relying on his own technical knowledge and experience to properly arrange the workers, their machinery and the work site, and have every person show the maximum of their zeal and strength.

但是,这仍然不是主要的东西。 But even this was not the important point.

第三次谈话,曾刚自己就提出了这个问题。 The third time we spoke, Zeng Gang brought up this issue himself.

我走进他办公室的时候,他正在打电话。 When I walked into his office, he was on the phone.

那边说话的人已经谈了老半天,曾刚在耐心地听着,一只手轻轻地敲着桌面,见我进来,用眼睛告诉我在桌旁的椅子上坐下,然后对着听筒说: The person on the other end had been speaking for ages, and Zeng Gang was listening patiently, tapping quietly on the table with one hand; when he saw me come in, he motioned for me to sit on the chair by the table, and then said into the phone:

“没错,一点也没错。挖土工是干了八方,八个立方公尺。 "That's right, it's completely true. The digging workers have done eight blocks *[?]* - they've dug eight cubic meters.

混凝土工是二十七个人。 There's twenty-seven people working on the concrete.

二十七个劳动力完成了四十个人的任务。” Twenty-seven labourers are taking on the work of forty people."

电话里又说了一句话。 The other person said something.

我看见曾刚的脸色霎时变了,敲着桌子的那只手也忽然停下来,声音肯定而坚决地说: I saw Zeng Gang's expression change, and he suddenly stopped knocking on the table, and he said firmly and surely:

“我没有权利捆住工人的手。 "I don't have the right to hold the workers back.

至于质量,你们已经检查了三次。还可以来检查第四次。 As for quality, you've already inspected it three times. And you can come and check it a fourth time.

……但是请记住,上星期干了八方,下星期就可能干到十方。 ...But please remember that last week they did eight blocks, and next week they might be able to do ten.

混凝土工也是,现在他们已经在研究用二十人干四十人的工作了。 The concrete work is the same - right now they're looking into using two people to do the work of forty.

队部该早一点作准备。” HQ ought to get ready for it in advance."

放下电话,他忽然笑了。 He put the phone down and suddenly laughed.

当人们发觉自己在干着可笑的事情时,才这么笑的。 It was the laugh of someone who has realised that they're doing some ridiculous.

他请我跟他一起出去走走。 He asked me to go out and walk with him for a while.

没走几步路,他又那么笑了,带着请求的口气对我说: Before we'd even gone a few steps, he laughed again in the same way, and with a requesting tone said to me:

“咱们别谈经验了。扯点别的吧……” "Let's not talk about experience. Let's chat about something else..."

可是他没说该谈些甚么。 But he didn't say what we ought to talk about.

我等他开头。 I waited for him to start.

这时已走到河边。 By that point we'd already got to the riverside.

河上已是一片暮色。 It was already twilight on the river.

远处大桥的桥头,燃起了几点灯火。 In the distance, the bridgehead of the main bridge was lit up by lamps.

我们两人同时看见河心的上空有一只老鹰张着翅膀在半空中一动不动地停着。 At the same moment, both of us spotted that in the air over the heart of the river was an eagle circling around.

初看去,仿佛是站在一根细细的铁丝上面,其实是站在空气里。 When we first saw it, it seemed to be perched on a thin iron cable, but it was actually hovering in mid air.

几秒钟以后,它飞走了。 After a few moments, it flew off.

这时曾刚才开口说: It was then that Zeng Gang began to speak:

“有时候,我倒羡慕你们作记者,当作家的。 "Sometimes, I actually envy you journalists and writers.

哪儿出了甚么好事,有了甚么经验,你们去写写,在报上登登,任务就完成了。 Whatever good things you see, whatever experience you undergo, you go and write about it, and record it in the paper, and then your task is done.

……可是实际怎么样呢?事情明明是好的,经验明明是成功的,要想大干,就有困难。” But what is it like in reality? Things are obviously good, the experience was a success, but if you want to do something big, then it's difficult." *[?]*

我一听,这话里有话,就连忙问下去。 When I heard this, there was a message within it - so I immediately asked what it was.

像平常一样,曾刚回答得很简单: As usual, Zeng Gang replied simply:

“半年以前,三分队一个混凝土工人超额一倍。 "Six months ago, Unit 3 exceeded their quota by one hundred percent.

队部在全队通报表扬,给了奖励。 The Unit was praised to everyone and given a reward.

上个月,突破定额一倍的增加到四五十人,队部也表扬了,可是同时就来了指示,叫分队领导上控制。 Last month, they added four or five people to the unit that exceeded their quota, and praised the unit, but at the same time came a directive asking for leaders to keep the unit under control.

这几天,青年工人们提出要搞双倍定额运动,一个人干两个人的活儿,一个月完成两个月的任务,队部忽然火急通知: These last few days, the young workers have said they're going to start a "Double The Quota" movement - "One Person Does Two People's Work", "Finish Two Months in One Month" and the office suddenly made an urgent announcement:

不许发动,说这是冒险……” You are not allowed to start movements - it's risky..."

他看我莫名其妙,笑了,说: He looked at my bewildered expression, laughed and said:

“不懂?我也不懂。 "You don't understand it? Neither do I.

奥妙也就在这里。 There's the subtlety.

这不是头一次了。” And it's not the first time."

大概他知道话不是几分钟就谈得完的,自己首先在河边一块石头上坐了下来,我也跟着坐下。 He probably knew that he couldn't say it all in a few minutes, and he say down on a rock by the river, and I went to sit with him.

“这个问题,暂且不去谈它。 "Let's not talk about that problem for now.

就说这双倍定额罢: Let's talk about "Double the Quota":

前几天党委书记也问过我工作速度能不能加快这个问题。” A few days ago the Party Committee Secretary asked if the rate of my work could increase."

他拿起一根干树枝,在地上画了个50%,又把它擦掉,说: He picked up a stick and wrote '50%' on the ground, and then wiped it away, saying:

“以我们现有的力量,把桥梁修建的速度提高一倍,没有问题。 "With our currently available manpower, we could build the bridge twice as fast, no problem.

道理很简单: The reasoning is simple:

我们的力量现在只用了一半。 Currently we're only using half our strength.

你看,机械设备的运用率不到40%。 Look - the machinery and equipment is only at 40% capacity.

每年因为施工准备工作不好、施工力量组织得不好而浪费的人力,至少有30%,因为没好好组织而没有发挥出来的潜力,就无法统计了。 Every year, because we prepare badly for construction, the construction is badly organised and wastes manpower, at least 30%, and because it's badly organised and doesn't make use of our potential, there's no way to calculate it.

可是拿青年工人来说,据我了解,把劳动效率普遍提高50%没有问题。 But taking young people as an example, to my understanding, it wouldn't be difficult to raise the production rate by 50%.

这就是说,人力可以增加一倍。 Put it this way: we could double our manpower.

有了机器又有了人,你说还缺什么?” With machines and with people, what are we lacking?"

他用鞋底擦掉那几个数字,猛一下站了起来。 He used the sole of his boot to wipe away the numbers, and stood up abruptly.

被他的脚踹掉的一堆土,从陡峭的土崖上急滚下去,就像一条土的河流。 He'd built up a pile of dirt with his boot, and dirt rolled down from its peak, like a river of dirt.

土粉在下面流个不断,土块和石块在这“水流”的上面飞跳着朝前滚去,最先落到黄河水里。 The dirt flowed incessantly at the bottom, and the lumps of soil and stones rolled along in this 'river', the foremost rolling into the Yellow River.

“就剩下一个问题了: "One question remains:

需要用斯塔哈诺夫精神来工作。 We need to use the spirit of Sitahanuofu *[?]* in our work.

可是为了大家能够用斯塔哈诺夫精神工作,那些干计划、组织、设计工作的人就得首先有斯塔哈诺夫精神。” But for others to use the spirit of Sitahanuofu in their work, those doing the planning, organisation and setting up need to apply the spirit of Sitahanuofu first."

他斩钉截铁地说了这几句话,然后询问地望着我。 He said this resolutely and decisively, and then looked at me inquiringly.

见我点头,就笑了,露出一口雪白的牙齿。 When he saw me nod, he smiled, showing his snow-white teeth.

我忽然觉得他那么像个孩子。 I suddenly thought that he resembled a child.

晚上,我把这次谈话补记到笔记上。 That night, I wrote down these talks in my notebook.

顺便翻一翻前几天笔记上随便乱画的一些问题—— I took the chance to flick back through the questions I'd noted down in disorder over the last few days:

“曾刚的经验里最主要的是甚么?”“为甚么‘冒险’的人工作最稳当,而工作‘稳当’的人反而冒着失败的危险?” "What is the most important thing about Zeng Gang's experience?" "Why is the work of 'risky' people the most reliable, whilst the those who work 'reliably' actually present the greatest risk?"

……忽然觉得好像朝答案前进了一步。 I suddenly felt that I had come one step closer to knowing the answer.

但是有一个问题,仍然百思不得其解—— But there was still one question that I could not resolve in a month of Sundays:

为甚么桥梁队队长罗立正(我相信自己了解他)不喜欢他手下这个如此得力的干部? Why did Bridge Construction Leader Luo Lizheng (I believed I understood what he was like) dislike having such a competent cadre under his command?

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