You know, it's always a little strange, even disconcerting, to be approached here confidently by someone who doesn't speak English. I mean, it's wildly unusual to be approached confidently by anyone at all. So, when a woman came up to me tonight as I was walking through the city square, I was a little confused. She started talking pretty quickly in Chinese, and when I didn't understand, she said that she didn't speak much English.
Now, I know this may sound a little strange, but I immediately knew she was a prostitute. She was dressed modestly, but after all, it's pretty cold outside. It was in an area of town where there are a lot of hotels (almost any time you stay at a hotel alone in China as a male, you'll get phone calls from callgirls, and if you unplug your phone or don't answer, you may even have some knocking on your door). Pretty much the only women in most big cities that will approach you are prostitutes, especially with that kind of confidence. It was at night, in sort of a darker place in the square, without many people around. I mean, it just made sense. But she didn't seem like she was propositioning me. It sounded like she was asking for my phone number (yeah, right), or maybe she wanted to give me her phone number in case I was interested. But she was acting so strange. And she kept saying something about me coming in the morning to see her (huh?). She kept saying the word phone. And she kept saying something about electricity, maybe. Really, my Chinese isn't very good.
Okay, so all of a sudden I realized that she was one of the attendants in China Telecom, which I'd visited this morning to try and get a phone line connected in my apartment. She wasn't the one I was talking to, she was at the other desk. I'm surprised, honestly, that I even vaguely remembered her. Immediately I'm sure my entire demeanor changed (from "Why are you talking to me?" to "I am so excited to see you!"--a big switch). I had said I'd come in this afternoon, but I didn't have time, so I let her know that I'm going in again tomorrow morning. I'm glad I didn't just say, "I don't want it" and walk away.
There's a pretty deep lesson here, boys and girls: don't assume people are prostitutes just because they're talking to you.