Mr Three Eyes At The Football

One of the best football teams in the world were in Shanghai last night to play against local team Shanghai Shenhua, who aren’t actually very good even by China’s low standards. But it was a rare chance to see a good side play so I went along and ended up getting second row VIP seats from a “huang niu” which is what they call scalpers / ticket touts in China.

During half time I was stunned to find there were no drink or food stands at all, anywhere in the stadium. Occasionally there were huge groups of people crowding round an unofficial vendor selling bottles of Coke and Minute Maid that they must somehow have bribed someone to get them in.

Returning to my seat for the second half, I was passing someone who at the exact moment I was passing, suddenly turned round. His head hit mine and his glasses fell to the ground as one of the two lenses smashed in to pieces.

An unfortunate accident, but this guy seemed to think I was responsible and immediately asked what I intended to do. I explained it was him who bumped me, so I did not see any reason to compensate him. He took great offense to this and refused to let me continue on to my seat without paying for the damage.

Sadly this is all to common in China. A friend of mine was scammed for over 100,000 RMB because a lady he hit while on his bike milked the situation as much as possible, producing one fake hospital bill after another along with supporting evidence from doctors.

I wanted to get back to the game so I said we could discuss it after the match. He didn’t want to let me go but I walked off anyway. But sure enough, after the match, he was waiting for me to continue the “negotiations”. I explained again this was an accident but I certainly was not the cause. He eventually said there was no option but to let the police decide.

He found a policeman in the stadium who pointed us in the direction of a small police station that was just by the stadium and he led the way as I followed, although he kept a close eye on me to ensure I didn’t try to make a run for it.

We had to wait for what seemed like an eternity at the police station although in reality it was probably around 45 minutes. By that time, I was almost ready to go against my principles and just pay him some money to avoid wasting more time.  But I kept telling myself to wait a bit longer, knowing that having a policeman oversee the discussion would work in my favour as the guy with the glasses would be hesitant to be too unreasonable.

Finally a policeman came out and my 3 eyed friend started to explain how I had ruined his glasses. I remained completely silent and let him finish his hard luck story. I waited till the policeman asked me for my version and I explained I was walking to my seat, the guy was standing up and suddenly turned just as I was passing. Somehow are heads bumped and his glasses fell to the floor. I could not see how that was my fault. At worst it was both our faults.

The policeman then asked the guy the burning question – how much did he pay for the glasses. 80 US dollars he replied. Not RMB, US dollars. You see, he’d bought them in America where for just a little bit more he could have got himself a rifle!

So how much did he estimate the value of the lenses? He said around 200 RMB which is 31 dollars. A bit of a stretch I thought, but I’ll go along with that. You see, I had a strategy. I said to the policeman that I felt 200 RMB was a fair assessment and since at most I was 50% responsible, I am willing to pay exactly half that amount so the guy can buy himself a new lens.

The guy then started saying he would need to go back to the US to get the new lens. The policeman was now getting somewhat irritated by this guy and asked why. Well, apparently the warranty would be invalid if he got a new lens locally. Luckily the policeman was having none of this nonsense. He said that’s your own problem – just take the 100 RMB and be on your way.

He was very unhappy with the way the deal had gone down, but he had no choice. I resisted the temptation to pull out the stack of 100 RMB notes I had in my pocket and instead just reached in and pulled out a single 100 RMB note which I handed to the guy.

And that was that. Over an hour of my life completely wasted, not to mention the 100 RMB which I probably should not have had to pay.

Fortunately, he didn’t ask me to refund him half his ticket cost. I imagine he had to watch the whole thing with just one eye!

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13 Responses to Mr Three Eyes At The Football

  1. Stimpy says:

    I don’t know why in these kind of occasions you just pretend that you can’t speak Chinese, or keep saying ‘ting bu dong’ over and over again. He would have soon got bored.

  2. WoAi says:

    @Stimpy – Well when it happens you don’t have that much time to think and I didn’t know it was going to turn in to a compensation negotiation. But I honestly don’t think that would help. And it’s kind of embarrassing later if they find out I can speak Chinese – makes me look guilty.

    It does work well in certain situations though for sure. I sometimes get called by people trying to sell me stuff and I just speak in English and they hang up.

    Anyway, in the end, even speaking Chinese, I managed to out smart him in the police station and he knew it. He started off all chummy with the policeman speaking not in Chinese but Shanghai dialect hoping that would give him an edge. It didn’t.

  3. T. says:

    I get out of these situations by showing my gun and then I ask if they feel lucky.

  4. WoAi says:

    @T – I don’t know about a gun, but he was definitely a punk! I was fine but now I am getting angry again. He bumped in to me and I end up paying him 100 RMB. Another way to go would be to go the Tony Montana route and say “say hello to my little friend”.

  5. Kim C says:

    Sorry about your 3 eyed friend! I love how he managed to even annoy the policeman too. He should get his glasses from the 3Yeh market – much cheaper there ;-)

    Anyway, wish I had known you were at the game last night – i did look out for you as you have such a finger on the pulse here in SH. I was there with my family – my son was one of the MUFC mascots – I believe he was with Veseli as they walked out (sorry but not too up to date on player names).

    What did you think of the football? I wasn’t too impressed, but did think Kagawa earned man of the match. Seriously, I think I was just too hot to be impressed with anything other than a cold shower.

    Where were you seated – we were in Stand 17 with all the Chevy peeps.

    In other news – what is up with that British Beef Burger at McDonalds – can you shed any light on what makes it British…?

  6. Bittermelon says:

    Should have told him to F off in your best Queen’s language.

  7. Lil bro says:

    You should have claimed to have lost not one but both contact lenses in the incident. He would have ended up paying you. That would have taught him.

  8. WoAi says:

    @Kim C – Wow you were there too. I guess a lot of people were from the expat community. You never would have found me. I was in row two, VIP section. I try to avoid sitting with the rural farmers and peasants :)

    The match was DREADFUL and I am talking about the visiting team as much as Shenhua. I don’t think they were trying. Only Paul Scholes was amazing for the few minutes he was on. You could see instantly the huge difference between him and his team mates. And he’s about twice the age of most of them.

    As for the British burger at McDonalds, well it comes with free mad cow disease. That’s the only thing I can think of that distinguishes British beef from other kinds!

    @Bittermelon – That would have been my normal response if I wasn’t flying off to London in a few days. In the back of my mind I didn’t want to end up with my passport confiscated while criminal proceedings were taking place, hence my much more passive handling of the situation.

    @Lil bro – That’s pretty clever. If only I wasn’t wearing glasses!

  9. wisemanofasia says:

    Should have told him to put the glasses back (pretending you wanted to inspect the damage) then punched him the face breaking the other lens, then given him 200 RMB and walked off!

  10. Swiss James says:

    I got caught up in one of these situations once at Pudong airport; a workmate nudged a concrete bollard when driving, the taxi in front heard the noise- instantly stopped and claimed we had hit him.

    Can’t remember how much our poor driver had to pay out, but it was hard to do anything else when surronded by 20 other screaming taxi drivers.

    They used to sell beer in that stadium, I wonder what changed?

  11. WoAi says:

    @Swiss James – It’s one of the things I hate about China to be honest. It was a ludicrous situation. I was lucky – he didn’t have a group of thugs with him to basically rob me. And because we were inside the stadium, he couldn’t call for backup either.

  12. Swiss James says:

    I like the wisemanofasia approach- in fact I’d give him the 200, then when he asked what that was for, give him your answer. Right in the face.

  13. WoAi says:

    @Swiss James – Oh James you’ve been gone too long, Shanghai has become expensive. A punch in the face is now a minimum of 300 RMB. For 200 RMB he might let you tickle him!

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