The thing of it is, living here, there is so much arbitrary enforcement of vague regulations and relentless pro-CPC pontificating that after a while you just start to ignore it. Oh, they want to me to show ID just to go in this building? Sure, whatever. Oh, they want to scan my face before i get on the ferry, fuck, whatever. Oh, this place needs my thumbprint? Sure. Oh, that road is suddenly blocked off? Fine. Oh, here comes a swarm of police to shut down all the restaurants who dared seat customers outside before 9pm? Cool. Study Xi, strong country. Cool cool cool.
You just shrug your shoulders and do whatever the people in uniform tell you to do because you know there is no point arguing.
So during my first year when i lived here and several times i had the authorities knock on my door and ask to take a photo of my passport apropos of nothing, i just let it happen. They weren't picking on me as a foreigner. My neighbors got it too. Nobody bothered to ask the reason.
And when this coronavirus lockdown started and our building management started going door to door checking everyone's temperatures, i just shut my mouth and presented my forehead. Like, what's the point in resisting?
Today i get a knock at the door, and i am all prepped for the temperature check, but instead there's a lady who i think was building management and a man i don't know with a clipboard and they asked me some shit about 衣服, which means clothes. I didn't at all understand what they were talking about, because i had been interrupted in the middle of a business meeting, and my laptop was still blaring as the Zoom call continued.
So 什么什么什么衣服什么的, dudes i don't know what the fuck you are saying. What's wrong with my clothes? I'm working from home, yes, that's why i am in pyjama pants. 什么什么洗衣服了 - something about washing the clothes? I am totally confused, like, who the fuck are these random dudes asking me about washing my clothes?
Then the kicker. Dude with the clipboard rolls his eyes and asks me a question in English. Nobody in my village speaks a single word of English. Who the fuck is this guy? He asked "where do you dry your clothes after you wash them?" And, like, what?!?
I was completely baffled by the question. It threw me for a loop. I mean, literally right behind me is a washing line strung up inside my apartment with some clothes on it, which they can see from the doorway. So... what the fuck kind of question is that? I kinda gesticulated behind me and said, "oh just there in my apartment, but i think some people take their stuff up on the rooftop, i dunno".
They looked at each other, nodded and left.
That was it. Like. What was all that about? If it was any other country i would've just asked what the deal was. But here i just... i just let it go because i guess that's what you do in China. Your brain starts to turn to mush and you stop questioning things.
I'm still puzzled, though. Why would anyone care? The only thing i can come up with is that this was some kind of coronavirus spot check to see if our building management was keeping the building appropriately disinfected, and perhaps there is some regulation about not allowing tenants to hang their clothes on the same washing line as someone else. Or perhaps there is a rule to not hang clothes out the window? They didn't say.
Whatever. I'm tired. I am not sleeping very well. Don't have time for weird English-speaking people with clipboards coming to my door to ask about my laundry habits.
My workplace still has employees split into separate work units. This week more people had been cleared to return, but instead people have been dropping out. My boss said only 4 people were in the office today. The building's canteen (which surely must seat hundreds) is only allowed to be open to 15 people at a time, and most people eat exclusively at the canteen, so being forced to go to lunch in shifts is apparently pissing everyone off. Having to wear a mask all day is too. I think i made the right choice by not going back yet. Seems like life in the office is far more miserable than working from home. And there is no end in sight.
PRC, fuck yeah.