“Macro! Do you know how much you worth to me?” Rogerson took a long drag of his cigarette while he waited for me to answer. He was furious.
“Ummm. A lot?” I offered.
“You worth nothing to me! Zero! Dog Sh_t!” He spat out his cigarette. “But if they kidnap you, you cost me money. This is bad for my business! People say I bad luck! Do you understand Macro?!”
“Stupid. This is not Canada. This is China. They hate you the most. You act like white guy but you Chinese. Macro! If they take you, I don’t pay! Stupid ‘maple leaf hick’ (direct translation).”
Let’s roll back several hours…
Any of you who’ve gone on a business trip with me will know that I spend any and all non-business hours in a club. That’s what I do. I seek them out. I don’t care what country, city or time-zone I’m in, I will find my way to a club. If you hate to dance because you’re too cool to roll with fun people, that’s your deficiency. Me, I find fun wherever the hell I am. I also like subsisting on Red Bull and free peanuts for weeks at a stretch.
In China though, fun can be dicey; especially if you find yourself in the wrong bar. The city of Dongguan is the factory of the world. According to Wikipedia, the population is 8 million. I’m totally making up numbers but my guess is the population is split 90/10 – 90 percent factory workers and 10 percent factory managers. Injected into that mix are hundreds-of-thousands of foreigners from around the world who have their stuff made there. And foreigners like bars and clubs – primarily because they’re taller than 95% of the people inside and they get to feel like studs.
Whenever I travel, my hosts know my club requirements and usually suggest a few choice clubs that are in their words ‘safe for white guys.’ These are clubs that play Billboard stuff and are frequented by kids of the wealthier strata. (Which actually means they are multi-millionaires because in China, if you’re wealthy, you are ‘GDP-of-a-small-state’ wealthy. The wealth gap between factory owner and factory worker is wide enough to sale a mile of aircraft carriers through.) I’m usually escorted by a chaperone and once in a while, their handgun falls out of their coat pocket when they tie their shoelaces. But whatever.
Those who frequent clubs with me tend to notice that I often vanish and the only way they know I’m not dead is via text. Sometimes I meet other groups and they take me to different places. Also shaking your personal thug has a certain awesome to it. Except on this night, I was taken by strangers to a club that had absolutely no white guys in it. And instead of AMGs and Maybachs out front, there were mopeds and bicycles. The club was kicking like any other in the world; same music, same drinks, and the same mix of dudes who prefer standing in the corner, sucking in their cheeks to look chiseled rather than actually dancing with the women they’re gawking at.
An hour in, some guy started to yell at me. Then another and then a third. I had no clue why the vitriol was directed at me. A guy beside me told me that I really should leave right now. Like right the hell now. I looked at my phone to see over 10 missed calls. This was an old Nokia flip-phone with 2 lines of LCD display and the only number on it was Rogerson’s.
I texted – HELP
The reply came within seconds – WHERE
I texted – ??
The reply – WHAT OUTSIDE
I texted –?? WE WALKED
The final reply – STAY
Meanwhile, the original yelling guy was right in my face now, yelling a dialect of Chinese that made absolutely no sense to me. His buddies were in full-thug-entourage mode. One guy kept on motioning to the back door. I was terrified. And if it were not for the heroic efforts of a particular sphincter, I’d have died of embarrassment in addition to the inevitable beating and back-alley kidney removal.
Then Rogerson strode in with two guys in addition to the chaperone I ditched. The crowd parted and he pulled me out. Turns out I ended up in a bar where the factory workers frequent – a bar where just three weeks ago, a similarly foolish foreigner was lured into and goddamned kidnapped for ransom.
Rogerson let me have it when we returned to his car. I never learned what happened to the other dude who was kidnapped. But I’m happy to learn the Rogerson would have happily negotiated a price based on the index of copper for my release.
NOTE: To find out who Rogerson is and why they call me Macro, click CHINA in the categories.