My goal when coming to China was two fold. One, to survive. And two, to not cause an international incident. With five days to go, I've accomplished both goals so far. Survival has been based around not eating anything moving or looking at me. I've approached my second goal with the plan to be friendly to everyone I meet, especially the good people of Beijing. That's worked well, for the most part. But I think I've been misinterpreted by one Chinese girl.
When you cover an Olympics, you ride from venue to venue on buses. You grab your bus at the International Broadcast Center and ride to whatever event you want to go to, then a bus will bring you back to the IBC, where you grab a bus at the end of the day to come home. I've now officially ridden more buses than I did in several years covering UNO Mavericks athletics, and that was plenty of bus rides.
In a country that has 74,000 volunteers for these games (again, they have the population of Kearney and Grand Island working as volunteers here....no shortage of people in China), they staff a volunteer or two on each bus. This job seems to consist of standing or sitting at the front of the bus, and then announcing that we've arrived at a venue, which if you are watching, you can plainly see that the bus has stopped and we've arrived at our venue, but the Chinese believe in covering all bases.
One of my beats has been to cover USA softball, and on the softball bus is a young Chinese college student. I've been friendly to every volunteer, again trying to avoid an international incident, but I think this young lady took it the wrong way. After meeting her on the bus a few days ago, she has shown up on every softball bus I've taken after every USA game.
After the initial small talk conversation on the bus, she's tried to escalate the situation. She's also bringing me gifts. She's trying to convince me to return to Beijing so she can serve as my tour guide. In short, I think I've charmed this young Chinese girl.
I never realized that my charm was such a powerful thing. I've certainly never exhibited any charm of any kind before. But if anyone ever needs love advice, obviously, get in touch with me. I'll forward you the number of a bus riding volunteer in China.