As if tonight, my last night hanging out in Chengdu, wasn’t significant enough already, something incredible has happened.
Not only was there an enormous outdoor party in the same square that we (HNG) performed at last November, but Daddy Dog (5P, NYC) was in town playing at a nearby club. Both parties were awesome and right next to eachother, so you could freely walk from one to another. There was a French/Senegalese hip hop show in town who performed and the show was fantastic. Daddy Dog played a good set, even though it was every bit a commercial club set, and everything was just great. When the outdoor area had to close at midnight, I collected the gear and was ready to catch a taxi home when someone could help me. Everyone was with a girl except for Sascha who was wasted, so I decided to take the gear home myself.
I put the turntables in the trunk and got into the back seat of the taxi. I got a phone call shortly before we arrived and was distracted as I got out of the taxi, resulting in the guy driving off as I realized that I was missing about 80lbs of heavy equipment. It takes a few moments for it to sink in and I become really upset with myself, not understanding how I could forget something so important, even if only for a few seconds.¬† Helplessness sets in and I start an optomistic inner dialogue with myself (‘it was meant to happen, maybe I need some time to understand why’) as I make an effort to relax.
Since I’d known that this had happened previously to Tenzin (several times, even), I called him and asked him for advice. He told me to have a Chinese person call the taxi dispatch and explain what the situation was. With Yayas help I handled that quickly, and then flagged a taxi driver and asked for his help. I didn’t know how to say radio (now I do – dian tai!), but I told him what happened and asked if he could get on the radio and see if he get in touch with someone who knew something. No luck; there was a significant chance that the driver didn’t even have a radio in his car because many don’t.
I anxiously wait in the same place for over an hour making eye contact with all of the passing drivers, hoping that he’ll recognize me and vice versa. He doesn’t show and I become increasingly at peace with the reality that my equipment is gone.
In front of every apartment complex is a security office with guards which are always on call. I’ve never spoken to mine, only given them “the nod” and said good afternoon and such. I quickly befriend a trio of them currently on call and tell them what’s happened. They hang out with me and we talk for a few minutes when a taxi and van pull up.
Suddenly a spotlight is on me and I can’t see. No, it’s a bright light mounted atop a broadcast video camera. What’s going on? Everyone is getting out of the van and a news anchor with microphone in hand approaches me and asks if I lost something. I don’t even really know what I was thinking before it became apparent to me what’d happened, as bizarre as it is. All of this happened at 2 o’clock in the morning.
The taxi driver, upon realizing that I left my equipment in his trunk, called the news station (because this is BREAKING NEWS; sarcasm aside, I couldn’t be happier) and told them that he had some tall foreigners stuff in his trunk. They rendezvous and return to my apartment to get the full scoop; who I am, what I do here, how long I’ve been here, what I think of Chengdu, what I think of Chengdu’s taxi drivers, and so on. I only think they’ll air it because of how happy and shocked I was. I hugged the driver and gave him 500yuan, gave everyone my card, and hung out talking for a few minutes outside on the street.
The guards help me lug the gear up to my apartment and I give all of them big thanks. The question that remains with me is, how lucky am I? I’m invariably seated at the peak of a mountain of luck in my own mind, but some people were less surprised than I was. Tenzins lost gear had been returned to him twice by doing the same thing that I did and Yaya briefly told me about exceptionally honorable taxi drivers that she’s encountered.
I leave in 36 hours and 13 minutes. Tomorrow I’ll show some strangers exceptional kindness and give taxi drivers giant tips all day. I don’t know how else to contribute.
I don’t know what else to say or think; I couldn’t be happier right now.