Note: this story actually happened, and is only slightly embellished here.
There is a local melon that seems to be popular among the locally-engaged staff (LES). It’s about the size of a grapefruit, but elongated like an egg, and is light green when ripe. Unlike most melons, the skin is thin and edible. Some LES can be seen at their desks at work eating it like an apple. They eat the fruit, then dump/pour/spit out the seeds from the middle of the melon into the trash can. It’s a little messy to eat it that way, but that doesn’t seem to stop the LES. I’ve seen several young female LES sit at their desks in their nice dresses and neat makeup, holding a half-eaten huge melon in one hand, and typing with their other hand. Every so often, they turn their heads to the side and down, and spit seeds into the trash. It’s an indescribable sight.
Two LES, who I will call Alice and Chuck, sit next to each other in the open office. The other day, Alice and Chuck were deep in conversation. Alice was holding a melon in one hand, and the two of them were gesturing to the melon and having an animated discussion. Eventually, I guessed that they were talking about how to divide the melon. Apparently there was only one melon, and they wanted to share it.
Chuck made a gesture like splitting it in two with his thumbs. Alice seemed to disagree. She waved her hand in the Chinese “no” gesture. The conversation continued. They proposed different methods to split the melon, but each time a suggestion was made by one, it was quickly vetoed by the other.
I sensed the tension begin to increase. The tone of the conversation seemed to become more urgent. Chuck’s tone of voice became stronger. Alice was more strident in her responses. Apparently, they were hungry, and the need to eat the melon was growing stronger. A solution could not be found, and the situation was getting serious. Could violence be far behind? I wondered. Perhaps a melon fight?
Finally, like Alexander the Great solving the problem of the Gordian Knot, Alice raised her free hand in the air like a drawn sword, and brought it down with a squishy thunk onto the melon. Melon guts splashed up slightly. It sounded bad, but in her hand, Alice now held two roughly chopped halves of melon.
Triumphantly, she handed a half to the astonished Chuck, who was so shocked at Alice’s decisive action that he didn’t know how to react. Ignoring Chuck’s surprise, Alice took a big bite of her half, a self-satisfied smile on her face as she chewed with gusto.
Finally, Chuck found his voice. “You’re a man,” he accused. Alice shrugged and continued chewing.
On my return flight from Hong Kong to Shenyang, I had my toiletry kit in my carry-on bag. As my bag was going though the X-Ray machine, I realized that my toothpaste was in there.
I steeled myself for the humiliating lecture from airport security about Very Dangerous Materials, and tried to remember if I had any more toothpaste in my apartment. I wondered if they would offer to write a receipt and allow me to pick up my toothpaste within 30 days.
Much to my surprise, the airport security did not confiscate my toothpaste. The security staff demonstrated the same bored detachment that Hong Kong shop clerks and wait staff are famous for.
I have to admit being a little disappointed with the lack of drama.
In the past, whenever I thought of Hong Kong, I thought of one big shopping mall. No longer. Now I realize that there is natural tropical island beauty in Hong Kong as well.
We started our nature hike on the subway, of all places.
I can’t wait to go back to Hong Long and do some more urban hiking. My wife will love it, too. Honey, what do you say, is it a date?
Going through security in Shanghai, my bag was flagged by the X-Ray operator. He said that I had a pair of scissors in my bag. I said that no, I didn’t think so, and invited the security people to look.
After a few minutes of searching my bag, they discovered a small credit card-sized tool that has a tiny scissors tool on it. Very sternly, they told me that such a dangerous weapon was not allowed on airplanes by the Chinese aviation authorities.
They asked if I was returning, and if I wanted a receipt so that I could pick it up when I return. Without thinking, I said yes, and they led me to another counter where they filled out a receipt and gave it to me.
I forgot that on my return flight, I will not be flying through Shanghai, so I will not be able to retrieve my “very dangerous weapon.” Maybe they can put it to good use, possibly for training exercises on how to disarm hijackers.