The professional interrogator
I have started to suspect that the neighbour who lives in the 5th floor of my building, a middle aged lady, is a professional interrogator trained by the CIA or the KGB.
Every time I happen to share the elevator with her, she always has time to ask some questions during the few seconds of the ride. At first she didn’t say much and was afraid of Nico. After a few months, seeing that Nico didn’t eat anyone yet and that I could speak Chinese, she started shooting. I don’t remember what she asked at the very beginning. I guess they were the usual questions, like “Where are you from” and “Which floor do you live in“. I noticed her detective skills when her questions turned more and more specific.
– Are you renting, or did you buy the apartment?: this is a key question in China. Respectable people buy; only losers rent. With this question she wants to assess our status and confirm if she will be seeing us in the long term. After I replied we had bought it, she stored this new piece of information in her hard disk and the next time she saw me (after a few weeks), she asked:
– When did you buy your apartment? I thought she just wanted to know when we had moved to this compound, but I was wrong. When I told her the month and year, she did a quick calculation and declared: At that moment the price was XXX per square meter, you bought when it was already expensive. I was not sure if she was implying that we are rich or stupid, and I told her at that time the price was cheaper than what it is now anyway.
Having satisfied her curiosity on the real estate front, this morning she started asking questions on two new topics. First she said: “You are not working today?“. It was a bit after 8 am, and I told her I was starting work a bit later. A few weeks ago she told me she had started working at a hotel, so I’m glad she’s not around all day to check my every move! Then she asked: “Is your child in your hometown?“. Notice how she didn’t ask first if I have a child, she just assumed I do. “I don’t have any children”, I told her. Then she said: “Having children a bit later is fine“. This woman’s a handful, hahaha. I am dreading what her next question will be!
She could totally be part of the Chaoyang Masses, a group of people living in Chaoyang district, Beijing, who entertain themselves keeping an eye on their neighbours and reporting to the police any suspicious activity in the district. Don’t look down on them, they became famous after several famous actors and singers were arrested for taking drugs, hiring prostitutes and other charges thanks to their tip-offs! You can read a hilarious article about the Chaoyang Masses here. But not only Beijing has these people, they are all over China! Sometimes they can be recognised because they wear a red arm band with the word volunteer or something similar, but I think other times they go incognito to catch people unguarded. So if you have anything to hide, better be careful! And don’t trust those smiling ayis