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Back in Hangzhou

After being wedged into a super tight seat on the way to Shanghai I decided to spend the extra couple dollars for a first class seat on the return bullet train. $73RMB going. $114RMB coming. About $6USD extra. Well worth it. Also has a USB port to charge my phone and other available outlets. A trip to Beijing this spring is on my mind and I've started investigating trains to and from. There's an option to take an overnight train that comes with a seat, hard bed, or a soft bed. I could also just leave early one morning and arrive around noon. Will have to see what I'm feeling in the moment.

Sleeping in my own bed was so much better last night. My back has been hit and miss lately. Being in Shanghai I did a lot of standing. Walking is fine. Standing in one place starts to hurt bad. As I've aged I've learned that my lower back pain is connected to my hamstrings. The better stretched my hamstrings the better my back feels. I know I torque the crap out on my back swinging the golf club, but really, that's not what's causes me the most pain. It's mostly poor posture when sitting and standing.

Will probably hit the gym and shoot some hoops today. Maybe get in a game with some kids. Thinking golf Thursday as it might get up to fifty degrees. It's been super cold here over the last week. Back to work Friday after five weeks off. Lastly, setting up a poker game for Saturday night on my new table. Kids are back in the classroom Monday.

I made another apple pie last night and started distributing slices. First ones to Tia and Jeremy. It's been fun hanging out with them this past week. Delivered one to Matt and Justine's son Luke as he's a big fan of my pie. Lastly needing to get some slices to Paul, Richard, and Anita (yoga teacher). They were already out the door at the start of break on my last round of pie delivery. I got this note from Paul this morning.

So glad to bring a smile to someone else. Even better when the timing is just right. Paul has an interesting story. He's been in China a long time. He's an Englishman that teaches the Chinese language, like, to Chinese kids. The entire Chinese department at HIS is younger Chinese ladies, and Paul. Well, they all look young. Actually I have no idea how old they are. I'm sure there some of them in their forties or fifties, but they all look like maybe twenties. It's a puzzlement, as Yul Brenner might say.

Headed out to get a round of golf in before I have to go to work tomorrow. This one freak day of temperatures in the fifties has to be taken advantage of. Looks like another cold week coming up before it jumps up to the sixties.

I'm really looking forward to the spring weather here in Hangzhou. I assume it will be similar to the fall with perfect temperatures for outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and golf. I had seven pars and a birdie. Played with two older gentlemen. I actually started on hole seven and joined them around hole twelve. They played the back nine first and would finish on hole nine. I "should" have been done on hole six, but something ugly happened.

My player assistant wasn't thrilled to be stuck with me today. He was a young man named Taki. It was obvious from the start. I wasn't keeping score, but he did for me. On the first hole I striped a drive down the middle. Put an iron on the green and just missed a birdie putt. When I went to tap in the par from a few inches it rattled off the stick and I picked it up. He wrote it down as a boagie, not a par. It's was...weird. He doesn't know me at all. I get it, but dude, really? So on the second hole I do the exact same thing. Drive, iron, green, putt, pick it up. Again he writes it down as a boagie. I didn't mind, but it was weird, and the kid wasn't hiding that he didn't want to caddie for me. When I tried to engage him he just went silent. At least the two guys I joined were cool. I pretty much ignored Taki and didn't want to let him ruin my fun.

So how did this get awkward? When we got to the end I say my goodbyes to Jiang and Fay. Take of my hat. Shake hands. Say thank you. I motion to Taki to head in. Then he spoke up via translator. Do you want to play the last three holes with Jiang and Fay? I'm like, sure. So we played a hole. And then Jiang tells me there going to charge me an extra nine holes for continuing to play. F that. I ask Taki and he says yes. Screw this. We head in. Taki tells them to charge me for the extra nine holes without saying a word to me. There was no way that was happening. The kid tried to screw me, on purpose. It's the first time I've felt unwelcome in China. I haven't experienced anything like this. The kid wanted them to charge me $1000RMB for playing one hole. That's about $130USD. This might be something that's well understood here in China, but I had no clue. I know now.

I talked to the guy in charge. I paid for my eighteen holes and left. Full weekend rate as well because this still counts as a holiday. I guess the good I can take from this experience is that it took this long to run into someone that made me feel unwelcome. It's been seven months now. Who knows what leads to someone having a prejudice like that, but this kid certainly had it. Actually, it could be that the kid was just a rotten person. Maybe he treats everyone like that? Maybe it was his worst day ever?

Nothing I can do but go forward and hope it doesn't happen again. I'm so glad I kept my cool. I could feel the anger welling as this was happening and I could have just exploded on the kid. I didn't. I paid him. Next time I need to investigate and find out if I can play without an assistant. If I have to take an assistant there needs to be an interview process first. We're having fun and there's to be some laughing. If not, I'll kindly take a different helper. Mmmkay?

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Mike Durkee
Mike Durkee
Jan 30, 2023

Yes, what Steve said... Glad you kept your cool...


Haven't all the other assistants been female? Wonder if that was a factor or he just doesn't like Americans. Glad you were able to keep your cool and not go all Hurlbut on him!

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