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City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Metano
In China, Spring Festival is high season for thieves. It's a time of year when everybody needs money, and some folks will stop at no end to ensure that their family appears prosperous as the seasons change.

Last year, I lived in a comfortable 2-man apartment provided by my former employer in Xi'an. My roommate was a burly guy from North Carolina and—for the most part—we got along just fine. One night, almost a year ago to this day, we went out for drinks and came back sort of late. We were feeling good, talking over some of the things we'd seen recently. At around 1:30, we went to bed. Now luckily for me, I was having trouble getting to sleep that night. The hours passed—two o'clock, three o'clock—still no sleep. At about 3:30 AM—when I was just starting to doze off—I saw a strange light flashing through the frosted glass that adjoined my bedroom to the living room.

At first, I took it for granted that David had gotten up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and the electricity had been cut off. It certainly wouldn't have been the first time. But the light began to seem stranger and stranger, and the footsteps didn't sound like they belonged to someone acquainted with the apartment's layout. I thought that maybe I was delirious, so I stayed in my bed, waiting for things to clear up.

Then, I heard my doorknob turn.

It was a cold night and as I lay gripping my blanket for warmth, I opened my eyes and the door slowly creaked open. It revealed a man, dressed entirely in black, his back pressed up against the wall staring hard at me, trying to determine whether it was safe to pillage my bedroom. Being seriously spooked out at the time, the most I could muster was some kind of demonic growl to scare him away.

Well, the growl worked and the thief booked it out the apartment's front door. I was still scared so I grabbed a hard-cover book—the most dangerous thing I was keeping in my room—and stealthily moved out into my apartment, carefully gauging the likelihood of severe injury as I navigated my way around each corner. I flipped on the lights and my apartment was only slightly in a mess. Jackets were thrown on the floor, cupboards had been opened, there were footprints. But apparently, the thief escaped.

I banged on my roommate's door to tell him what happened. He was a heavy sleeper so it took some work. "DUDE! A FUCKING THIEF JUST BROKE INTO OUR APARTMENT!" is what finally made him come to. I must admit that this North Carolinian was a tad bit braver than yours truly. He came tearing out of his bedroom with one of those big empty beer bottles in hand, ready to take the sucker out.

By that time, of course, the thief had gone on his way and luckily, nothing was missing.

I can't stress enough how important it is to lock your doors during the holiday season here in China.

Lock them tight!

Our valuable Editor Metano has been with us since Monday, 21 January 2013.

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