A Little Tienanmen Intrigue Pt. III – Confrontation

A street with small cafes

I walked in the cafe with fear welling up in my stomach. I didn’t know what kind of response my anger would cause. How would I even describe my feeling of being violated of having my trust twisted by a few people to make some extra Yuan.  I had just gotten used to trusting my travelling instincts and I was beginning to become more open to connect with personalities and the randomness of situations.

“It’s wrong, ” I said in English. She could see that I was angry.

“Okay, Okay,” She went to look for my visa slip. I took it from her. She took 100 yuan out of her belly bag. She looked at me. “Okay?” She asked waiting for me to accept this refund to keep quiet and to leave.

Instead of taking the easy compromise all I could think about was how silly I felt for being swindled. I heard the foreigner and a female in the next room that I had seen come in as I was leaving before. Something rushed up inside of me and made me shiver a bit.  I became even more determined when the owner tried to shut me up with the 100 yuan.

I held out my hand to open the door knob of the room with the other foreigner. I needed to warn him. The owner started screaming at me in Chinese and started pulling on my arm.

I opened the door and spoke quickly. “I was just in here with a Chinese woman and its a scam.” The Chinese woman inside the room stood up and tried to push the door closed on me. I pushed it open again.

“Chinese girls asked to speak English and then the charges were crazy. ” I was running on adrenaline and I just kept speaking quickly. The Chinese girl tried to shut the door again and to tell the foreigner to not pay any attention to me.

“Wait,” the foreigner was British. “I’m interested to hear.” He stood up and pushed the door open. “That is exactly what is happening here.  I noticed that the prices were a bit high and I was doubtful but I still went ahead with it. “

He was coming out of the room now. “That’s what they do they order something really expensive and say that you are the teacher and you should pay for it in China. “

The Chinese girl came out of the room. “Let’s go somewhere else, ” she suggested.

“That’s the problem, “ I said. “It doesn’t matter what place it is, she is the one trying to trick you.”

“Yes. Yes I see.” The British man began to leave the cafe with me.  The Chinese girl began screaming in Chinese at me. The kind of screaming that is mixed with venom and a threat of violence.

We walked away quickly I was scared that she would follow.

“You know, “ he said. “I was just happy being on my own when she approached me. “

“I might go to the police, “ I said.

“I think it’s one of those situations that can be chalked up to a travelling experience.”

For me my pride was hurt a bit as I had not trusted my initial doubts with these women. I saw a police man at the end of the road and considered speaking to him.

I said goodbye to the Englishman and approached the police officer. I should have probably just left things alone but I wanted something to happen.  Some days it was hard for me to get the courage to venture out into the streets of Beijing alone. These women had increased my doubts and fears of entering into the unknown.

“Hello, “ I started to speak to the officer. “I need help. I was cheated.”

The officer did not speak English. I tried to explain myself once again. Someone close by realized that we were having difficulty communicating.

“What do you want to say, “a young man asked.

“I was cheated. A cafe is getting tourists to come in and then they are trying to make them pay large amounts of money. “

The young man looked concerned. He turned to the police officer and explained.

He turned back towards me and translated what was said between them. “He is a traffic policeman. He will have to call someone else to come here to help you.”

I thanked the young man and the police officer spoke to someone on his radio.  The officer motioned that I had to wait. I sat down on a traffic pillar and wondered if talking to the police was a good idea. Anything could be twisted around to be your fault in a foreign country. What if I had to tell my boss? They would probably wonder what kind of person would get into such a mess after recently coming to China.

After a long wait another police man appeared out of a SUV that had parked beside us. I told him my story. The policeman sighed as if he was not ready or willing to deal with this situation. I began to think that the policeman would treat my claims as a joke.

“What do you want?” The officer asked. “The money?”

Then I knew that he really wasn’t going to deal with the situation. “They are doing something illegal. Maybe you should talk to them.” I felt silly reminding the police officer of his duties but it was clear on this weekday evening that he was not ready to do much for me.

“Okay, “ he motioned for me to get into the SUV. I jumped in and he asked, “Where.” His partner was in the passenger seat.

I gave him directions to return to the cafe. I didn’t think that I would end up back there and I wished I had just gone home. I pointed to the cafe as we passed by.  I assumed he would go out to talk to the woman by himself. But he motioned for me to come with him.

I felt a little scared to be facing this woman again. I also felt it was unfair for the policeman to ask me to stand in front of her again. He asked her a question in Chinese.

The woman was calm and I could see as she pointed at me and spoke in Chinese that she was trying to blame me.  I could sense an accusatory tone even in a foreign language.

“Great, “ I thought. “She is twisting everything.” And then I gave up on trying to get anything done and realized how naive I was to approach the police. The police officer walked back to the car and I followed.  He drove me to the end of the street again and I got out of the car afraid.

“What about my credit card? Could they charge me more money?” I was worried. Suddenly China was not an adventure and a challenge but it had become a potential for harm. I hailed down a taxi and felt defeated.

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