BRAVE, BUT DUMB
One time while traveling in China with Mr Wong, my intermediary and interpreter, we left my hotel, a small dinky thing with rooms that were unbelieveable. Each room had open grill work near the ceiling of it’s sidewalls that opened to the rooms on either side, so you could actually hear the persons in their rooms talking and laughing. It was like sharing your room with them with high sounding Chinese conversations and laughter, but worst of all, was the smell of smoke from their chinese cigarettes that flowed through into my room like air conditioning. After years of travel in Asia, I was used to unbelievable things happening, especially in China, so, I accepted it and made sure to be out of the room as much as possible. Off we went, but not realizing that I would need my passport, I left it in my room for safe keeping, as once before my passport disappeared in Thailand. another story for another time!
Well, we traveled to our first manufacturer to check on a small order I had placed with them on my earlier visit two months before. Naturally, in those early years, China knew nothing about quality, so there was no quality control and the product was very poorly made, so I rejected it all, and proceeded to show them why. The manager, like all government run factories, was an pompous ex-high ranking soldier, saw what was wrong and promised to remake all and send new samples to my Hong Kong office for approval. Naturally I was frustrated and upset because I had promised the customer who had given me this order a prompt delivery. With this in mind, I was frustrated and my temper was raw, but we had a much bigger manufacturer to inspect, in a town in a different district from where we were ( after 45 years, I can’t remember the exact name of the town). At the time, I didn’t realize that when you traveled from one district to another you had to show your passport, or other papers before you could enter, as this was the way the central government kept control of all their people, keeping towns into districts to separate them from each other and keep them under control, by having comparatively small groups of people seperate. So after three hour a driving very slowly to go the forty miles to our next stop, I was even more frustrated as while on the road the people had the right of way and didn’t move from the road, so you had to travel at bike or walking speed, cars were new on the scene and didn’t count, it was one car trying to get by thousands of people on the road. When we finally arrived at the entrance to the city where our manufacturer was, there was a road block and we were all asked to get out of the Mercedes to be inspected. There was soldiers with machine guns at their chests standing across the road. Out we came and each of us were asked for our papers. When the officer in charge came to me, I said through Mr Wong, my interpreter, I had left my passport in my hotel. Naturally he couldn’t speak English and I could not speak Cantonese Chinese, so Mr Wong explained who I was, and I’m sure he said, to placate the officer, that I was a stupid American and didn’t know about the Law. The soldier shook his head and said to Wong that I could not go any further and must go back. Wong translated to me leaving out whatever was rude, saying the law was that you had to show legal papers to enter and leave from one district to another, and that we had to go back because of my not having papers. I asked him if he could go and he replied that all 3 of them in the car was allowed in. I then walked straight into the soldiers that was in the middle of the road and tried to brush past one, when he stuck the machine gun into my stomach. I looked him in the eye, head to head, and pointed to my round eyes and said “I’m an American and don’t need to follow Chinese rules”. It was a stalemate and the officer came over yelling at me, but I pushed through and dared them. Nothing happened, as the officer realized it would be a big mistake to stop or hurt an American,as it would turn major incident, so he told his men to stand down, and I went through with the car eventually following me. I won’t ever forget how really stupid I was, because as the years went by I saw things that went on in China that were unbelieveable: Men hanging from trees with a sign telling of what they had done, usually something very minor, but illegal, like selling rice over the government required price. WOW!!!
By the way, a little story about when China began building highways throughout the cities, connecting them all! It’s funny, but true on how things existed in China in the 70’s.
It’s called “The car wash” look for it. It’s coming as another White Knight Adventure.
BRAVE, BUT DUMB