December 10, 2006

Stupid School Guard...
For the past three and a half months, I've left the school through the side gate because it's much closer to my dorm. No one has ever said anything, and some of the students go out the side gate. Normally the guards nod or salute and say ni hao or hello as I walk by and nod. If the guards don't nod, it's usually because they're too cold to move their heads or they're engrossed in a book. One time the guard even offered me cigarettes.
I decided to leave campus this afternoon to get some groceries, so I went to the side gate as usual. A new recruit got up off his chair and came over and saluted me. I nodded, and he stuck his hand up to mean "HALT". He asked me in Chinese where I was going, but I answered back in English "Sorry, I don't understand". I took a step forward but he put his orange stained fingers up again, and opening his mouth to reveal red spotted teeth (I think it was from tobacco) he said in Chinese "I don't speak English, wait a second" and nervously gestured for me to move back towards the school. I said again "Sorry, I don't speak Chinese" and made a gesture to show that I wanted to leave and go on the bus.
The four long whiskers on his chin started to twitch (maybe he was jealous of my beard?) as he looked around frantically for someone who spoke English. He shouted at the kitchen workers leaving campus to get water because the water was broken, but of course they don't speak English. The guy I normally buy meat 'bing' from told him to ask a student.
So he calls over a student and after a short discussion the student asks me where I'm going. I tell him I'm going to buy food. Some more animated discussion (which I understood as the guard told the student to tell me I had to leave through the main gate) followed but the student couldn't translate it into English. Another student came up and translated what I had already understood about having to go through the big, middle gate.
But why do I all off a sudden have to go through the big gate? They pay even less attention to me there, and it's a much longer walk away. I know that the students must get a teacher's signature then the guard's signature before they leave the campus, but I'm obviously not a student. I also know they want me to enter through the main gate so that two or three guards can nod at me instead of just one guard at the side. My only identification is the colour of my skin (teachers have to do a thumb scan at the start of the morning and afternoon sessions). Honestly, do they think some other bearded white male (I know all 3 of them) is going to wander to the outskirts of the city to sneak into the school and steal everything? I'm sorry, but it was one of the students who stole the teacher's laptop and who stole things in the student dorms. Just let me leave by the closest exit.

On a semi-related note, there was no water at the school for about 10 hours, and the power went out twice in the morning.


Anonymous said...

do the guards carry weapons?

Mariah said...

stealing things is very common in China, so being doubted is relatively common too.
plus not many people will care how you feel sometimes because they can't even care themselves so much.


Jim said...

Do you think the light fingered student is also reading a lot of extra mail as well?
I would think that the red in your beard would make you especially close to your Chinese guards.
p.s. We have hidden Fergy.

Stephen said...

I don't know if the guards carry weapons. Some of them are police (or in a police uniform), and some seem to be hired from a company.

I've been warned about theft quite often, sadly. What I don't understand though is how I can leave through that gate for 3 months, then one day I can't.

I think the mail was stolen. It seems odd that anything mailed in October when there was no mail-lady has gone missing, but things mailed before and after have been received. I make a big deal of thanking the mail lady whenever I get a letter.