The Police - Me China Red - CycleBlaze

April 8, 2021

The Police

I picked the cheap hotel that I picked because I'd stayed there before. Because it wasn't quite three years ago, and I've got my GPS tracks, and I hadn't had anything bad to say about it at the time, and there was no reason not to.

And, despite my not having taken pictures beyond some funny stuff going on on the registration screen in ways that didn't show the hotel name, it was definitely the same hotel. I remembered it. I might not have written that it was down a little alley behind a larger hotel or that I had to bump my bike up a single step to bring it into the lobby, but I had and I completely absolutely 100% remembered that I had stayed at this hotel. Besides which, the only other candidate to match up with my GPS track is the hotel next door and while business-trip-me would never stay anywhere that low class, bike-trip-me wouldn't dream of intentionally going anywhere that fancy.

Once upon a time, having a hotel tell me 'no' was grounds for me to go to another hotel. Those days have passed though. Far too many of the times that I went to a second hotel (or a third) still ended up being a police evening in the end. I'll sometimes let a transparent "we're booked solid, we have no rooms" slide, but I've come to the conclusion that them rejecting me is their problem, not mine and I'd rather just stubbornly refuse to leave the lobby until they take my money.

I'll be the first to say, my behavior when I've been rejected is rarely calm or polite or kind. In point of fact, I'm usually a fucking bitch. While it may not necessarily be true that I haven't eaten, that I've had too long a day on the bike, or that I have some kind of external stress; the times where that was true have taught me that throwing a screaming hissy fit of a temper tantrum and refusing to allow any other customer to be served until I am served is the most efficient way of getting the police to show up. At which point, past experience tells me, although they might also initially disagree with me, I'm going to shortly end up getting the room I already paid for.

Rather a lot of police showed up. Quite possibly the largest number of police officers I've ever gotten. I think it may have even hit double digits. Apparently they were bored or something, and, as it would turn out, the headquarters of the county police was just across the street.

Faced with an angry foreigner and a situation that they almost certainly had no experience with, I have to say that the police did a not bad job. I might even go so far as to praise them for doing a good job. Particularly as, when the current version of the registration software on the hotel's computer actually turned out (for what I think is the third time since I started keeping track nine years ago) to be a version that doesn't support foreigners

They floundered through figuring out that my passport is in fact my ID, that my American ID card is useless to them, and that proof of my actually being a translator is irrelevant. They calmed the situation. They came up with a solution (go to the nicer hotel next door) and even offered that the difference in cost between my already booked online room at this hotel and a room at that hotel be covered by the county police¹. They de-escalated tensions and they handled it.

The woman from Exit & Entry, on the other hand. She saw a grease fire in progress and, lacking any water to pour on it, decided to go with kerosene. 

Even in a county seat, the local police are totally allowed to not recognize a passport or have any idea what to do with one once I give it to them; they're allowed to ask about an ID card. It's okay. I'm not what they are usually dealing with and them having not a fucking clue about the correct procedure for dealing with me is both normal and okay. 

The person whose department specifically handles foreigners, though? Yeah, no. That's not okay. Not at all. However, she not only didn't know what to do with a passport, not only was completely off guard by my speaking Chinese at her and having relevant vocabulary, she also had no idea of any of the specific laws and regulations related to this situation and decided from her position of ignorance to do wonderful things like threaten me for being in violation of my residence permit². 

But wait, there's more! Not only was she completely ignorant of the foreigner specific parts of her job as someone who works in the department that handles foreigners, and who had shown up at the scene specifically because there was a situation involving a foreigner, she also managed—on video no less—to repeatedly³ refuse to give me her name. 

Now, I'm not saying that there's never been a time in Chinese history where the thugs going around beating up people who were doing something they didn't like weren't actually the local police in plainclothes. I'm not even going to say that this time wasn't as recent as say this year. It's just that specifically not covering up badge numbers (or at least not getting caught covering up badge numbers) is one of the basic rules of being part of Public Security; and, that this basic written rule goes hand in hand with the basic unwritten rule of "don't do anything on camera that makes the Bureau look bad".

As a senior non-uniformed officer, she's expected to know stuff like "when someone who is currently recording you asks you for your name, you give it". You don't argue (again, on video) that since your personal ignorance of the law didn't cause any lasting negative effects, I should just forget about it, and I absolutely shouldn't file a complaint⁴.

Honestly, even if she hadn't really really pissed me off, for someone in her role to be as dangerously ignorant as she is, I view filing a complaint as nothing less than my civic duty as a non-citizen resident. 

¹ While this is now the third time that I've stayed somewhere other than where I wanted because the police paid the difference in cost, the difference this time appears to be about the same as the cost of a cup of coffee. 

² As, according to the version of Chinese law that exists only inside her head, my having a work related residence permit issued by Hainan Province clearly means that I'm never allowed to travel outside of Hainan.

³ Eighteen times. I asked her, on video, for her name eighteen times. 

⁴ The next day, when someone from her department called—in a mix of bureaucratic nosiness and a failed attempt at being casually threatening—to ask if I was still in their county and where I was spending the night tonight, I was also told that "filing complaints isn't nice".

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Gregory GarceauI'm the kind of guy who tends to avoid conflict whenever possible. Even so, I cannot resist reading any chapter you write that is titled " The Police." Good stuff.
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2 weeks ago
Marian RosenbergTo Gregory GarceauI would much rather solve things without conflict. Unfortunately, if I'm going to pick "not fighting" my choices are avoid people and stay in a tent or spend absurd amounts of money.

When in cities, I am using the techniques I've taught other foreigners of only booking on CTrip's English platform Trip, but that just changes the conflict from "with the police" to "with Customer Service".
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2 weeks ago