The Police - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

The Police

Tonight's NFA started out with me walking in to the lobby and asking them "to get the special online price, should I pay online or do you want to be paid directly?" as I've had a few times this trip where the special online price was only available online and a few other times this trip where they got annoyed at me for paying online and insisted that I cancel that transaction and pay direct.

It went through the usual stages of "we can't take you, we don't have the license," "we don't have the qualifications," "we don't have the computer system to register you," that generally ends with me offering to teach them how to register me and them being happy to discover that they can take my money. I countered, and countered, and countered, and then they pulled out "that's not what the police said. They said us small hotels are not allowed to take foreigners."

"Frankly, the police aren't allowed to say that."
"But, they're the police. They said we need to have certain qualifications to take foreigners."
"They're wrong."
"They're the police."
"Yep. And your options are to either let me teach you how to use the online system to register me or to call the police who told you I can't stay and let me teach them both the registration system and National Law. Because they are wrong."

He called the police. 

It was a very one-sided conversation with a lot of "yes"s and "uh-huh"s and "I understand"s. Also a few "I know that sir"s for good measure. And finally, after they'd finished explicitly telling him that it didn't matter how insistent the foreigner was, he still couldn't take foreigners, his voice got very low and submissive and—with an air of there's no way on earth this is going to work and the desperate need to make very sure that they know this isn't his idea—he said: "she told me if you still say that she can't stay here, I should ask you to come here so she can teach you how to use the registration system" deep breath "and National Law." long pause "uh-huh, yes, yes, uh-huh, mmm, yeah, uh-huh, I understand, uh huh, passport, uh-huh, scanner, third item on the menu, okay, got it. Yes. I'll call you back if there are any more problems."

Then he took my passport and, with me looking over his shoulder, found the foreigner option on the online hotel guest registration system and registered me.

With this, I now realize that I need to change the way I keep score in the Game of Marian vs. The Men in Blue. In the past I counted it as one point for each level of official who told me "no". As a result, even though I only stayed in the town of Rongjiang, Guizhou (2012) one time, I still give it three points. One point for the random on-duty officer at the police station who said I needed to go to a hotel licensed to accept foreigners, one point for the captain upstairs, and one point for the English speaking tourism related officer who was specifically dispatched to this station for the express purpose of telling me I couldn't stay at the hotel I wanted to stay at (which, of course, I ended up staying at). 

That night in Rongjiang, more than just the three aforementioned people told me I couldn't stay at the hotel I'd chosen but most of them were of the same rank as the first officer, and some of them weren't even officials, so they aren't counted. Not all Men in Blue have to be men (or even wearing blue) but they have to be some form of official or officer with either the government or the military.

There've been a few times over the years where someone on the other side of the telephone got involved in the discussion of "where Marian is allowed to stay", but, prior to this trip—although someone obviously has to call the Men in Blue to get them to come to the hotel—it's mostly been face to face interactions. 

Off the top of my head, if I'm not counting this year, and I'm not counting that time in Beijing in 2007 where my employer was the one who dealt with the hotel refusing to honor my reservation by taking me somewhere else, I can only think of four places where someone on the other end of the line had to have things explicitly explained to them: Dawangdian in Hebei (2012), Bai'an in Hebei (2018), Xingren in Ningxia (2018), and Zaojiao in Gansu (2018).

Starting with Taoyuan in Ningxia on last year's trip though and continuing with Ciwu in Zhejiang, Shangjie in Fujian, and now Yantian in Guangdong, I've also had four instances where the police were called regarding my insistence that specific police instructions regarding my inability to stay somewhere were a load of smoking horseshit and the police gave up the fight without even showing up.

Face to Face Interactions I've Won: 114
Telephone Interactions I've Won: 8
Face to Face Interactions I've Lost: 3
Face to Face Interactions I've Conceded: 3

(You may notice that these numbers have changed a bit compared with my original scoring. That's because I'm counting the times in Guangxi and Yunnan in 2014 where I didn't get to camp as planned.)

Funnily enough, one of the times I lost (Zaojiao in Gansu), I actually won the telephone interaction with the county police but the local police were firmly insistent that even if their supervisors ultimately had said I could stay, their local truck stop hotels were so completely an unacceptable place for a single female traveler to stay on her own that my choice was to sleep in their police station (which was rather lacking in amenities like beds or bedding) or let them drive me in to Tianshui City the way they'd wanted to from the very beginning.

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Jeff Poretsky(typing before reading the entry):

So looking forward to this chapter. :)
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1 week ago