A couple of months ago one of my students wrote how she averted a robbery by thwarting a thief. She was on a busy bus and she said she saw a "thief" coming towards a handsome young man who looked like a fellow with money in his wallet. She was too frightened to warn the young man for fear the thief would wreak revenge on her. So, she thought fast, hurried next to him and threw her arms around his neck declaring out loud how much she loved him then whispered in his ear that a thief was approaching him with the intent to take his wallet. Her outburst had a profound affect on the thief who left the bus at the next stop. The young man thanked her for her quick thinking, kindness and bravery. I have wondered a few times since reading her account how she was able to recognize a thief on a public bus like that. I've looked around several times and have no idea what I'm looking at in this Chinese sea of humanity.
We were warned at our training sessions in Provo, Utah to be aware of such things and alter our schedules so that our walks to and from school were not so predictable.
Last night it happened.
John was walking home from school and as he stood waiting for the light to change at a huge, busy intersection a muscular, ruddy-looking man in his mid-to-late 20's approached him and offered to hold his heavy computer for him. John said, "No thank you." Actually, this is not uncommon on the university staircases where students often offer to help us carry our roller bags up the stairs. But, this wasn't a student. The fellow asked again. And again, John said a little louder, No Thank You." A third time the fellow asked to carry the computer bag for John, and again, even louder John said, "NO THANK YOU." At that point the light changed and John crossed the street while the would-be thief quickly walked on ahead. You see, he planned to run into the traffic carrying John's computer so John couldn't chase after him while pulling his roller bag.
John mentioned this incident to his class this morning and all the students knew exactly what that thief was up to. Apparently, this is not uncommon around foreigners. I kind of wish I had been there so I could see what a thief looks like around here.