Suzhou. It’s another hour before I can board my train back to Shanghai but I’m wringing wet and don’t fancy wading around town until then, so I’ve come early to the station.
There’s a gaggle of beggars doing the rounds, working the aisles in waves. Organized. Coordinated. Directed. They’re those ones that claim to be deaf and carry immaculately laminated cards bilingually explaining their affliction. She gets the brush off from everyone, eventually shuffling her way over to me. Now, I don’t mind beggars all that much but I do hate when they single out the foreigner for extra attention. This one’s no different. I can see her calculating the expense of my camera in her head.
She points at her ears and commences her well-rehearsed routine, attempting to convince me of her plight. I’m unmoved. She continues for three long minutes but I put my head down and ignore her. Eventually giving up, she moves on to irritate someone else.
Five minutes later. She’s back. Apparently she didn’t get the message.
“I should carry a laminated card explaining I don’t give a shit”, I think to myself.
I wave her away, accidentally clipping her hand as I do so. This angers her, although when a mute loses their temper it’s more pantomime than threat. Her hilariously exaggerated facial expressions and flailing arm movements attract a sizeable crowd. They laugh uproariously. The woman turns to scowl at them.
Hey … wait a minute … she … she heard them!
Busted. Back to fraud school for you.