The Police - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

November 16, 2019

The Police

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Grinning at the police really discombobulates them.

I thought it was just because, as the person who had caused someone to call the police, I was supposed to be shouty and angry and annoying. Or, at the very least, distraught and bloody. Crying perhaps. Whatever I am, the one thing, as one of my friends pointed out, I'm not supposed to be is enjoying myself; they've got no frame of reference for people enjoying an official encounter with them.

And, I'm definitely enjoying myself. Clearly, thoroughly, substantially having an absolutely wonderful time of it.

There are protocols of behavior. Unwritten rules as it were. I haven't raised my voice; I've not said anything rude; I'm even answering all their questions and peaceably letting them fill in their Incident Report; and it's doing their heads in something awful.

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 It's bad enough that I speak Chinese as well as I do. Foreigners—even Chinese speaking foreigners—aren't supposed to speak the language as well as I do. To be frank, given my profession, my spoken Mandarin is utterly appalling. However, I am well into the parts of China where Modern Standard Mandarin is at least their second language, and, after the shock that I'm understandable at all, they aren't that well equipped to recognize that something's off in my tones, cadence, or pronunciation.

This pair were so confidently certain that a Rule exists that I actually found myself rooting for them. Just a little. Like the Mighty Ducks or any of the other underdog teams in a feelsgood sports movie, I knew they didn't have any of what it takes to win, but I was still rooting for them.

And the one officer really did try to find me the Rule so he could show it to me. He didn't even do the whole "nyuh-uh, I don't have to" thing that some of them do. 

Since the Rule doesn't exist (despite localities having leeway to create their own rules and regulations independent of national law) he couldn't find anything that would prove me wrong and get me to go to the right sort of hotel, but he tried. He honest to goodness tried.
Which is totally points in my book.

He later lost those points with the face saving parting shot of "the reason small hotels can't take foreigners is because the registration system is complicated and we don't want to be forced to fine them for improper registration." 

But even if they didn't contribute to the final score, and even if he lost both the points and the argument in the end, he powered through the awkward weirdness of a quiet, polite, grinning foreigner and totally—if only for a little while—got style points.

He also fact checked my October 1, 2003 date as the official nationwide end date for the existence of restrictions of where foreigners can and cannot stay. First person to do that to me. So I had to admit that I didn't actually know what document or proclamation it was; that I'd tried to research it—that I'd had friends and acquaintances and employees try to research it—and not had much luck. But, I knew for certain it was central government; and, I knew for certain it had gone into effect on that date because I was already living in China, and my school had held a meeting.

Of course since he couldn't find his Rule that he was oh so sure existed, it's only fair that I can't find mine either.

But what it all boils down to in the end is that the Hotel Registration Software (which thankfully is the same as my past two nights in Guangdong) that I firmly insist is the same for "both foreigners and Chinese" actually is the same for both foreigners and Chinese; that there is a menu option for "foreigners". In fact, once my passport is properly aligned, the scanner is even able to OCR all the required information into all the correct fields.

For the trouble and hassle that I caused the nice hotel people, I happily would have agreed to be upsold to the 68 yuan a night room (which she offered to me for 60) except that the 48 yuan a night room (which would have cost 42 a night if they'd not canceled the payment I made via CTrip) had a softer bed. And a fan. 

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