Wuhan Stories and Tips

Honor Dinner Ends in Police Car

Always Pleasant Mr. Han Photo, Wuhan, China

Wednesday at 6pm, I received a call from Zheng. I had been cleaning in the bathroom and was going to spray it down while I showered. She asked me if I had had dinner. My thoughts raced quickly to my (what is the correct answer mode). I told her no and she said that Mr. Han wanted to take Virginia and me to dinner. She said that I would need to get Virginia. I asked if I should get dressed and she told me probably (a typical response). I hung up the phone, raced into the shower, and started shampooing my hair when the doorbell rang. This could not have been more than 3 minutes after I had hung up the phone. Fortunately, I have a sliding "what’s the secret password" type of peephole, which I used to tell Mr. Han I was in the shower and that by the time he got Virginia, I would be ready. That was the fastest shower I have ever taken. I managed to toss on a skirt and heels to go with my wet ponytail.

I informed Virginia her shirt was off a button. She was caught off-guard, so she raced to change her shirt in the bedroom. Coincidentally, her drapes were open while Mr. Han had gone out to the balcony to spit. I told her I was amazed I had I gotten put together so quickly.

We went to a very nice restaurant at the tobacco factory, which also has the second-best hotel. It overlooks a pond with a gazebo. We dined with five school officials and were later joined by the head of the police department. They have a distinct fondness for the terms “cheers” and “bottoms up.” Again, not being drinkers, we had more than we would normally have. One of the men opened a box of cigarettes and passed out packs to everyone as gifts. Our seats at the table were the only ones with large red placemats, knife, fork, and spoon. I chose to eat with chopsticks but gladly accepted Virginia serving me, as well as herself, with her spoon.

I was tired of drinking and noticed that everyone seemed to be in deep discussion, so I dumped my wine into my bowl with the food I was leaving behind. The headmaster saw me do it. I was so embarrassed. I did learn that red wine is obvious, no matter how much food you have left in your bowl.

Mr. Han gave us doggie bags of the vegetarian dishes and headed out to the parking lot. Instead of returning in the car in which we came, we wound up riding in the back of the POLICE CAR with the very man who had been dining and enjoying "cheers" with us. Moral of this story: If you see foreigners in the back of a police car, do not assume they have done anything illegal. Although the look when I wasted that wine...

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