A Beijing miracle

By Walter Shearer Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/12 17:53:40

I came to China with only hand luggage and have never used more than a little backpack ever since.

It was with some reluctance that I borrowed a friend's wheelie suitcase for a trip to Shanghai. I hate the noise they make, the unnecessary encouragement to carry too much stuff and the sight of an able-bodied person too lazy or arrogant to carry their own belongings. Unfortunately, I was going to need a suit and some smart shoes, so I bit the bullet and relented to dragging a turquoise monstrosity behind me.

I also dislike the smart phone lifestyle. I remember in the good old days when I wanted a taxi all I had to do was stand by the side of the road with my arm up. Today, I need an expensive smart phone, a number of apps, know the exact address I am heading for in writing, be willing to engage in an attenuated translated text conversation with a driver and have my movements tracked.

However, on my return from Shanghai, I relented and joined Didi, taking my first "premier" car from Sanlitun to Chaoyang Park. The next day, I heard that my suitcase buddy had been knocked off her bike and broken a rib, so I filled her case with extravagant exotica and headed to Andingmen to cheer her up. As I was fumbling with my phone to order a Didi, a green-and-yellow stopped right in front of me and disgorged its passengers. The trunk was open, so I dumped the vile case inside and merrily headed into town where I forgot all about it. Off it went into the green-and-yellow yonder. And no, before you ask, I did not get a receipt.

It seems that a WeChat payment acknowledgment and the "contact the vendor" function don't work as intended to track the taxi driver.

Calls were made. Police stations were visited. Tencent was contacted. I remained confident throughout that the case had been wheeled somewhere safe and was waiting for me.

As a last resort, I had someone write a message asking taxi drivers to use their WeChat groups to find my case, offering 500 kuai ($78) to whoever brought it back to me. It worked!

The next morning I headed for Fengtai where the case awaited. The taxi driver who passed on the information resolutely refused my offer of a reward. At the taxi office, everyone was steadfast in their refusal of a reward. Don't you love this city?

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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