Friday (T-4) - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

September 27, 2019

Friday (T-4)

Flight to Shanghai

I think he's actually trying to shut the trunk of the car rather than tell me not to photograph his face. I don't really care though.
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The Men in Blue took me to breakfast this morning. This time, at least, I know what specific topic they want to ask me about and why.

I don't usually get to see them twice in one week but, my last session with them was cut short by having a prescheduled appointment to go fire Replacement. Also, unlike most of my other times with them, I knew what they wanted to talk about.

As with most of my other times with them, I don't actually have anything to say to them that they want to know or hear but that's besides the point. They pretend to be friendly to me and I pretend that it doesn't annoy the hell out of me that they keep bringing me in for friendly rounds of questioning.

I do some volunteer work for the US Consulate in Guangzhou. Real basic stuff. Mostly, as one official put it, "here let me Google that for you", for other Americans with a sideline in announcing that people from the Consulate will be in town and want to hold a Meet and Greet. 

Because the American community in Hainan is so small, and because those of us who volunteer for them are 'known' quantities to the foreigner community as a whole, the greater part of my volunteer work has been telling people from other countries how to contact their consulate's Citizen Services.

Since my volunteer work started after I was already getting invited out to tea and didn't become noticeable until after I'd been invited to tea six or seven times, I know that it's not the reason this all started but it's potentially one of the reasons it continues. Not that I'm going to stop doing my volunteer work (or anything else) on the grounds that it might get the spooks to go away since it just as well might not.

In any case, there's a certain pleasure in being able to answer questions like "do you know who they are meeting while they are here?" with things like "someone from your government" and "but who?" with "why on earth would they tell me?"

We went to an absolutely terrible hotel buffet where I mostly ate fruit and some tolerable (but not good) toast. They'd volunteered to drive me to the airport after breakfast (woohoo! free taxi!) and I'd told them to bring a vehicle big enough for my bike box but it was still hanging out the back of the trunk and they wanted to park someplace with a security guard and a gate.

At the airport, since I wasn't on a morning red eye cheap cheap flight with all the tourists, everything was smooth as silk. I thought, at first, that I was getting an unusually obsequious level of customer service because handicapped + foreigner but I noticed them also being unusually awesome to a low status farmer type (straw hat, leathery tan, a converted bucket as his backpack) probably on his first ever trip by air so it may have just been the right alignment of the stars or a recent change in management.

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Things went less smooth at the Shanghai airport including almost an hour wait for a wheelchair and a wheelchair attendant who might have been 5'1" in heels and 90 pounds soaking wet. Eventually there were two people to push me except when I got frustrated and would start going off on my own at rather a faster pace than the both of them put together until they caught up with me and insisted that I had to stop because pushing the wheelchair was their job and if I pushed myself it would look bad.

Got a taxi to my couchsurfing host's place in time for him to help me carry the bike box up the stairs and for me to give fashion opinions on his outfit for the early evening and night's silliness. I needed to charge my phone, get a shower, and get changed, plus the artsy evening activity looked like something my leg wouldn't be up for even if I hadn't just gotten off an airplane so I stayed behind before donning a sparkly purple evening gown, and grabbing a share bike to the Bund for a 360 degree light show in a dome and a private party with a DJ/artist who has done installations all over the world and who regularly attends both Burning Man and regional burns such as DragonBurn.

Cacaw!
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Halfway through the show, two of the local Men in Blue showed up to complain about the permitted private party being held in the specially designed art installation and insisted that people not lie on the floor designed for lying on but that benches be arranged in rows with everyone looking forward (and not up at the light show projected on the ceiling) "for our safety".

The smaller domes that didn't have private parties in them weren't shut down (even temporarily) and, as one of these twats (in shutting down the event's private bar) tried to take a couple of unopened bottles of Belgian beer for himself (and had to be gracefully stopped), it was less a case of officialdom having a problem and more a case of an asshole in uniform trying to abuse his power.

And, given that the arts community everywhere walks a fine line between wanting approval from the Man and wanting to give a great big middle finger to the Man, it's unlikely that anyone will say anything to anyone who matters about this guy's actions.

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Today's ride: 8 km (5 miles)
Total: 35 km (22 miles)

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Megan ShookI wish you took a selfie once in a while, especially in sparkly purple dress!
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3 weeks ago
Marian RosenbergTo Megan ShookI'll find you a picture of me in the dress, okay...
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3 weeks ago