At first, Han was hopeful.

He had been trying for years to get people to listen to him, stopping neighbors to tell them he was lonely, that he was scared of dying, that he didn’t want to die alone.

Now people were reaching out, showing concern. A local restaurant offered food. A journalist from Hebei province promised to visit. He struck up a telephone friendship with a 20-year-old law student in the south.

But his mood soured when he realized the family he imagined would be tough to find. He rejected offers he considered below him. When a migrant worker called in January, he dismissed him and hung up the phone.