Why was I offline for a day? Because there was no electricity. Sure, my laptop has batteries, but I see no sense in running the battery down with no idea when the power will be back on unless it's absolutely necessary. And let's face it, 99.99999% of what I do online is completely unnecessary.
And why was there no electricity? Because the mains cable broke. It broke sometime in the middle of Wednesday night.
Power cuts are no big deal. Frustrating, yes, but they're a pretty common occurence in China. When I lived in Changsha and Taiyuan I had candles and a lighter sitting in my living room ready to go, and a bucket of water in the bathroom for when the water went off, which happened just as often as the power being cut. But most of the time, the power or water is cut for only a short time. Power cuts generally last a couple of hours. The water can be off for longer, but still, I've never had to wait too long for services to be restored. So the power going off late Wednesday night should not have been a big deal. It was a good way to put me in a bad mood on Thursday morning, but the water in the hot water cylinder was still hot enough to take a shower, and I trundled off to class as per normal, fully expecting the power to be back on later that morning.
But no. I got out of class at eleven, still no power. I picked up a book and started reading (The Penguin History of New Zealand by Michael King, if you must no. And no, it's not about the history of penguins in New Zealand). Midday, still no power. I got my lunch and continued reading, figuring the workers were on their lunch break, and the power would be fixed some time in the afternoon. Good thing was I still had water and gas, so I could easily brew tea and cook and so on.
1:50 rolled around and I went downstairs to get in the car to go to this company class I have down near Gulou. There was a bit of talk between the driver and the secretary who always accompanies me to Gulou (why, I don't know) about the power cut, and I was left with the impression it'd be fixed soon.
2:30, class is supposed to start, but there are no students. Well, that's fairly normal in these company classes. Everybody has their regular job, so they often show up five, ten, fifteen minutes late. But not this time. Three o'clock, still no students. The 'organiser' is constantly running in and out of the conference room trying to find where they all are. Eventually it's decided to cancel class, so the secretary and I head out to find a taxi home.
Get back, still no power. I text lzh saying what happened, that there's still no power, and that I'm heading out to 玩. I wander over to Beiyu wearing me new, 200 kuai leather sandals. I've covered the hole these sandals cut in my right foot the day before with a Band Aid, but the right sandal continues aggravating the injury anyways, and the left sandal decides to join in the fun, cutting a hole in my big toe and rubbing the base of my ankle in a way I don't consider appropriate. I hobble over to Lavita, get a Tsingtao, and find a table in the garden outside and sit back to watch the world go by. Or play basketball. Or sit around chatting with it's friends while pretending to study Chinese. Or whatever the world happens to be doing. I get another Tsingtao. But I'm tired and grumpy and the world isn't being particularly interesting, so at about five I hobble home.
Still no electricity. Fuck this for a joke. I open the fridge, only one beer, steadily getting warm. So I collect up some empties and wander down to A Bao's for some much needed supplies. I notice A Bao has electricity. Then I sit down in the creeping semi-darkness and start drinking, a sullen look on my face and murderous thoughts in my heart.
lzh gets home and tries to cheer me up. She says we'll go to the Tonkatsu Curry Rice place at Wudaokou then catch a movie. What we're supposed to do with the movie once we've caught it, I don't know, but Wudaokou does have a cinema, so we could at least watch it. And Tuya's Wedding or whatever it's called has been seen in that area, which is one I want to watch, so you never know, the power cut cloud might actually have a silver lining.
The Tonkatsu Curry Rice place always used to be good for a decent, reasonably-priced meal and a cold Tsingtao. Not last night. The beer was cold, or at least cool, so that was ok. And the prices and menu don't seem to have changed at all in the last five years, except that the menu has been printed on new paper with pictures. But the rice was dry like it was two days old already and the curry sauce was decidedly unsatisfying. Anyway, it was food. A blood sugar level closer to normal helped me feel a little better about the world. Then we wandered around to the cinema.
Bastards! Fucking bastards! Why would you only have Tuya's Wedding on in the afternoon and only fucking Spider fucking rubbish Man fucking 3 on in the evening? Did nobody think that some people might actually want to watch a good film in the evening? And of course, there were the usual scalpers. When we arrived at the cinema, I told the first one "别麻烦我们" and walked off. He obeyed. But as we were leaving another scalper had a go at selling us tickets "不要！没有好看的！" I told him. lzh told me off for talking back to the scalpers again, but I pointed out that this time I didn't abuse him, I just said "没有好看的" Nothing wrong with that. Ok, she said, you're right, now let me go look at pretty clothes.
So instead of watching a film I was dragged around clothes shops. Well, it wasn't too bad. Then we cut through the Beiyu campus on our way home. That's a much more pleasant way to go home than fighting through the crowds and noise of Chengfu Lu.
We get into our compound and see lights shining everywhere. So maybe they have fixed the power. But as we walk down the road, we see one small area that is still in pitch darkness: Our area. And it was only a few buildings without power, too. We saw one of the lower-level teachers and the new Daye who works the door and keeps the yard tidy. I was feeling pretty damn pissed off and let them know it. The teacher (whose name I've never learnt, and that may have some connection with the fact I've never heard her speak English) copped the brunt of my venting. She tried to explain what was happening, but I said words to the effect of: I don't believe it! Nobody's doing anything! Look, everybody else has power, it's just somebody fucking around with us!
Anyway, she took it all in her stride, and Daye was laughing at my outburst as he tidied up a few things by the gate, and vent完了 I felt a lot better and we, lzh, the teacher and I, chatted quite amicably about what was going on, and they had a laugh at me and my silly, childish ranting.
But one thing still pisses me off, and that's that patronising "I don't know about your country, but in China...." bullshit. Right: You don't know about my country, so just shut the fuck up and listen. And your assumptions about what things must be like in my country tell you nothing about the reason for my reaction to the power cut, so shut the fuck up and listen. And it's got nothing to do with my country and everything to do with:
- In all the years in China I've never had to go so long without power.
- You all know where I live, you have my cellphone number, I've seen several of you today, and yet none of you bothered to tell me anything about the bloody power cut until I asked.
- That's what pisses me off most: It would have been really, really easy for somebody to just tell me what had happened and when it was likely to be fixed, and I would've trundled off frustrated with the situation but not pissed off.
Anyway, it's pointless ranting about this. I'm just a foreign teacher. Nobody needs to tell me anything. I should just shut up and 乖乖地 go to class and do my performing monkey act.
Rant完了. And now, for your enjoyment, a joke lzh just sent to me:
通往芝加哥机场 公路上行驶着一辆出租车，车上乘坐着一个日本游客 这时，一辆出租车超了过去，日本人喊道：“瞧，丰田！日本制造！多快呀！“过了一会儿，又一辆出租车超了过去 “看，尼桑！是日本制造！太快啦！“又一辆出租车超了过去 “嗨！是三菱！日本制造！快极啦！“出租车司机是百分之百 美国人，看见那么多日本车超过自己 美国车，加上那个日本人张狂 语言，不免有些恼火 出租车驶入机场停车场，这时，又一辆出租车超了过去 “是本田！日本制造！快极啦！没治啦！”出租车司机停下车，没好气儿地指了指计价器，说道：“1500美金 ”“这么近就要1500美金 ！”“计价器！日本制造！快极啦！没治啦！”