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There’s this sign for the “Foshan Reform Through Labor Place” (sic) and you think “Who isn’t interested in seeing a Chinese labor camp?” You turn down the street to find out if you can see over the wall to snap a few photos, and suddenly, the rear tire of your moped (which had been giving you problems before) goes flat. If you don’t know too much (or any) Chinese related to tire repair questions, this is probably what would happen when you needed help:

1. Walk up to a person

2. Show them you’re White

3. Point at the tire

4. They point in a direction

5. Drag your bike that way until you see someone you think is a tire repairman

If you’re lucky, the nice old woman that you ask rides with you until she can ask the guy on the next corner to fix it for you. He is just a guy on a corner with a plastic hat, talking to some other guys, sitting on a box next to a wall from which other guys with larger plastic hats are tearing down metal facing. He will get off his box and open it if you have a hole in your tire, and he will execute an extremely thorough, meticulous patch job on said hole and charge you a pittance for the thorough, meticulous job that he just performed. You will pay him double what he asked because he showed such pride in his menial work and you know the gesture of $1.25 USD is worth much more to him than its value ever would have been to you. You’ll say thank you and wave goodbye to that nice man who helped you out that day.

Of course, it’s entirely different when your front tire pops about a kilometer down the road. You then:

1. Say “Fuck.”

2. Realize that it is just karma biting you in the ass for refusing to pay the parking attendant twenty-five cents when you stopped for two minutes and thirty-eight seconds to check out a park and take some pictures of old men playing Chinese Chess

3. Repeat steps 1-5 from previous flat tire situation

If you’re lucky, the guys you see won’t be too far away, and you will be able to leave your bike there while you go buy a pack of cigarettes and a beer because you deserve it, dammit. You don’t know if that’s exactly the answer that you’re looking for, but hope that when you’ve finsihed your Tsing Tao and had a smoke, they’re done and you can get going again. You could give a crap about how much attention to detail they give and how proud of their work they are. Hell if you’re gonna pay a cent more then what they are charging; right now you’re looking to see if they have the little penny cup that’s ther in case you’re short a few.

Finally, you can get on your way and just go home, because what you really want to do is relax with another one of those beers you just had. About fifteen minutes into your trip home, when your front tire pops again you:

1. Slow your bike to a stop and kneel down to ask God why

2. Start to curse the last little fuckers at the last place for giving you a bogus innertube

3. Come to the realization that you are too far away to go back there and give those assholes a piece of your mind in your bike’s current state

4. Figure out that all your anger is misplaced and you really drove over something because you saw them put in a brand new innertube twenty-five minutes ago

5. Repeat steps 1-5 from the original flat tire situation

You pull out a smoke and pray these guys are as fast with this bullshit as Michael Schumacher’s pit crew. You are happy since they damn near are, and it’s done in half the time it took the dickheads you dealt with before (who aren’t really dickheads anymore, but you think it because it makes you feel good). You throw the yuan you owe these guys in the air as you fly out of that place at top speed and find some place to eat as you think to yourself, “this shit has been fucking exasperating.”

You go to Mickey D’s to enjoy a cheeseburger, a crispy chicken deluxe, and some super size fries, because you know what? You earned a couple smiles comin’ your way today, sporto.

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