Migrant worker taps subway station’s free Wi-fi daily to keep in touch with family

Devoted husband and thrifty father of two makes daily trip to local metro to use Wi-fi connection

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 6:28pm

A Chinese migrant worker has become the latest fleeting social media star after being photographed taking advantage of the free Wi-fi at a subway station in Shanghai to make a daily video call home to his wife and family.

Like almost all of China’s army of migrant workers, Ge Yuanzheng, who hails from central Henan province, has to get by on a tight budget. He moved to the eastern China metropolis in October and has been working in the construction sector, earning 200-300 yuan (US$30-45) a day, The Beijing News reported on Monday.

Ge lives in a dormitory with his workmates and has little in the way of luxuries. He was quoted as saying that in the three months he had been in Shanghai he had yet to visit any of its famous tourist attractions for fear of wasting his hard-earned cash.

Far more important, he said, was staying in touch with his loved ones back home. Though, even on that score, there was no reason to throw money away, he said, especially when there was a perfectly good and, more importantly, free, internet connection available at the local subway station.

“I don’t want to spend money, but I miss home and want to talk to my family,” he said.

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Ge said he walked to the station every night, where he could sit and chat in relative warmth and comfort. It was during one such call earlier this month that a passer-by snapped his photograph and uploaded it to the internet.

The post attracted the usual range of comments, with some people expressing their pity for Ge and others questioning why he did not just pay for a monthly data package so he could make his daily calls from his dormitory.

When Ge’s wife, who was not named, saw the image, she was initially upset at the thought of her husband having to traipse through the city every night just so he could call to say he loved her. But she cheered up when Ge explained that he was fine and doing well, the report said.

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The couple have two children, a son who is working and a daughter who is studying to become a nurse. The cost of the younger child’s education was about 30,000 yuan a year, the report said.

Although it was Ge who took the honour of becoming the web’s latest ephemeral sensation, he may well owe his fame to his wife, as she too seems to be well versed in making her money go as far as possible.

When she needed to use the internet, she “stole” her neighbours’ Wi-fi, the newspaper report said.