Pickpockets and Closed Offices

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November 15th 2009
Published: November 15th 2009
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Guanyin TempleGuanyin TempleGuanyin Temple

One of Dali city's Buddhist temples
This week I started to worry that I hadn't blogged recently, and I didn't really have any material I felt like writing about. But, I told myself not to be too concerned, because new things always pop up here. I was sure something would come along soon, and I was right. Be careful what you wish for...

I have a history of losing my wallet. It happens a couple times a year, and disaster usually ensues. Banks, insurance companies, Visa, the Massachusetts RMV, they must know my name by now from all the cards I've replaced. So it was only reasonable to expect that my wallet would go missing in China, and I was prepared for it. Kind of.

I was on my way to the gym to meet a friend, but I got there early. Lazy creature that I am, I thought I'd wander through some street shops rather than start my workout early. While I was wandering, I bumped into a man walking in the other direction. This happens all the time in China. I looked at him over my shoulder, and he was looking back at me. This happens all the time in China, too, since
Bronzeworker in LijiangBronzeworker in LijiangBronzeworker in Lijiang

One of Lijiang's many craftsmen, this bronzemaker sells 90% of his traditional Naxi bronzework to tourists.
I kind of stand out. So I didn't think anything of the encounter until I realized that my wallet was... missing.

So my wallet had been pick-pocketed. I felt the first signs of panic rumbling somewhere behind my stomach. My hands tingled and my palms started sweating. A string of inappropriate curses raced through my mind. Credit card, ATM card, driver's license, insurance cards, gym card, bike parking passes... the list was long. But the first thing I had to do was immediately replace the swipe-card I use to enter my apartment building so I could access my apartment. I speed-dialed my real estate agent, who probably dreads seeing my number show up on his phone by now, and explained I needed a new card.

"Xiao Di, a thief stole my wallet today. I need to get a new building entry card."
"Oh, that's kind of inconvenient."
"What do you mean?"
"It will take a month. The office is closed. You can't order a new card until December."
"A month? That's totally unacceptable. How do I get into my apartment?"
"It will take a month. The office is closed."
"Again, how do
Black Dragon PoolBlack Dragon PoolBlack Dragon Pool

The famous park in Lijiang, with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the background
I get into my apartment?"
"Well, see, it's not very convenient. It will take a month. The office is closed."

Now, there are worse things in this world than losing a building entry card. It's important to handle this type of thing with the poise and maturity befitting a responsible adult. So I calmly went to work on searching for another solution.

HAHAHA you didn't really believe me, did you?

I threw a complete and total fit. Xiao Di is not my favorite person to begin with, and this totally put me over the edge. Like a 6-year old throwing a tantrum, I screamed my little head off at Xiao Di, eventually losing the ability to speak Chinese, and threw a slew of English at him through the phone receiver. I (almost) felt bad for him. Then I cried, and then I raged, and then I realized there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I reminded myself I am 8,000 miles from home, and if the offices are closed, well, gosh darnit, the offices are closed. There's not a thing to be done.

Solution: I will be bothering the security guards constantly, every day,
Tiger Leaping GorgeTiger Leaping GorgeTiger Leaping Gorge

One of the views during a two-day trek through Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest in the world.
over the next month to let me into my building. Maybe they'll get so sick of me that they'll complain to the office about taking so long to replace building entry cards. And the moral of the story: if you get to the gym early, don't procrastinate by going shopping.


15th November 2009

You sure are a trooper. Hope all is resolved quickly. Love, Aunt Roz
15th November 2009

I just had the best laugh reading your blog this morning...It reminded me of this other young woman I know (loosing things) by the name of Libby. Now I know why you two hit it off..Your a winner! Keep up the wonderful stories we love them. Be safe. Ben and Sue
15th November 2009

I'm so glad you got the moral of the story--throws me back to all the nights we read Aesop's Fables! Hang in there and will be back in place before you know it!
15th November 2009

Happened to see your blog. It's very sad you lost your wallet. I am a Chinese. I know there is few violent crime. But Pickpocket is the most common crime given China's very crowd people in street. What you can do is to tell the police, actually they can do nothing. Just in case some one finds your wallet(sometimes the thief just take the money and leave the cards) and submit to the police office. And do not place all eggs in one basket. Good Luck.
15th November 2009

its ok
It is ok, Merrill. I have never been in that exact position, but I have been in circumstances that remind me of this stuff. Pickpockets are really fablulous at their craft, and you can button pockets and frustrate them quite easily. Anyway it will be an experience you will laugh at a year from now. Hang in there, DonA of Sedan
16th November 2009

Fear!Frustration! Fright
Merrill, I would have been a complete basket case if this happened to me in a foreign country. Infact anywhere. What are you doing to survive? Where are you sleeping if you can't get into your building? This is a puzzlement. Please continue this Adventure story.( Love Cuz Joan) P.s. I sent this to my daughter Renee to read. She just might write to you on e-mail. Stay cool calm and collective. I will be thinking of you and hoping you are safe. Love Joanie
16th November 2009

hope the office is open!
Oh Merrill, That stinks! What a lousy experience... altho not directly related to shopping instead of working out! Hope things are working out with replacements so you are not inconvenienced too much. Love and miss you!
16th November 2009

Getting into Building
Now I just wait for someone else to enter the building, and I follow them in like a creeper. If it's late at night, the security guards will swipe me in.
16th November 2009

I have had the same problem in the Hump Hostel in Kunming yesterday. My wallet was stolen. It seems that it is very common in this international hostel, where anybody is able to put a solution controlling the access to the lobby or recording with cameras in all the public places. China is a nest of burglars...

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