The Foreigner Rule has been violated.
So here’s the deal: if you’re a foreigner in China in a city other than Beijing or Shanghai, you have a Special Bond with every other foreigner you meet. This may materialize as anything from a simple head nod in public to a full-blown conversation and exchange of phone numbers.
With this in mind, imagine you are on the line 1 subway from your outskirts-of-Tianjin school to downtown to get your party on on a Friday night. Keep in mind, you have NEVER seen another foreigner on this part of the subway. Then, out of the blue, a blond woman and her Chinese friend sit across from you and speak wonderful mish-mash of Chenglish.
Yes, this happened last night, and I was slightly excited–new friends maybe, oh boy! I introduced myself to the blonde woman and her friend, telling my name and what I was doing in China. But here’s the thing. The blonde woman said absolutely nothing. Nothing! She looked at me like I was delusional and let the silence drag on for what seemed eternity. So I leaned back in my seat and mumbled something like “Sorry to bother you… (bitch).”
Just to add to my confusion, a few minutes later the blonde woman got my attention, then, I kid you not, wagged her finger at me to get me to come over to her and her friend. Against my better judgement, I sat down next to them. Her Chinese friend went off on this long-winded explanation of where she worked and a lot of things I didn’t care about, then oh-by-the-way offered me a job at her company’s kindergarten. I kindly informed her that I hate children and would rather wear underwear filled with burning coals than work with them. And that was that–I got to sit awkwardly next to them for the rest of the journey.
On the plus side, I met another Chinese girl on the subway who is applying to my university for school next year. She was much nicer. And didn’t make me feel like the outcast in a high school cafeteria.
So yes. The Foreigner Law was broken, and my pathetic attempts at being outgoing were stymied. But on the plus side, I have pictures from my last trip to Beijing in November! These pictures are not mine, but were instead stolen from my friend Helen (with her permission).