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When All Else Fails

What a memory to pop up today!

I trained to run the Shanghai 10K with a friend who, at the last minute, could not make it that day. I debated not going but that felt like quitting so I talked myself into doing it by myself. It would be an adventure, like so many others including getting my blonde hair highlighted in China. I had our driver (we were not allowed to drive while living in China) drop me off and then he went home for the day. I assured him I would get a car home. I stood alone waiting to start amid 100,000 runners. It is a bizarre feeling not being able to turn to the person next to you and start up a conversation.

I ran my race, dodging runners and walkers that inexplicably seemed to be completing the race by zig-zagging from one side of the road to the other. I took in the juxtaposition of modern buildings along ancient streets that defines the Shanghai landscape. I listened to the "jiāyóu" from the crowd. I finished completely winded and pleased with my time. As I checked my time, looking up my splits, I noticed that my battery was about to die on my phone. It had totally been drained over the course of the race. I quickly tried to order my car, but was unable to complete the transaction before the screen went black. Panic. I was an hour from home, by myself, with no way to get in touch with anyone.

I tried several cafes where I used a combination of my rudimentary Mandarin and enthusiastic charades to indicate my desperate need for a charger. I was ignored. I mean, like, workers would pretend I wasn't there. I walked around the park, tried not to cry, and decided I would just try to hail a taxi. I gave it my all, throwing myself across the lane of bikers and scooters and risking collision with oncoming cars for hire. It was like a game of chicken with each one. They were not stopping so I had to admit defeat and leap out of the way. I do not know why but taxis in China would generally not pick up foreigners. After several games of chicken and my rising hysteria, I spotted a group of women who also appeared to be foreigners.

I hatched a new plan as I ease-dropped on their conversation and heard some English. I was about to make friends. And sure enough, I struck up conversation about the race, their experience in China and came to find out they lived in the same part of the city. I explained my dilemma and was assured one had a driver on the way and could take me home. Relief. It was an adventure all right. Luckily it had a better ending than my blonde highlights as is also shown in this memory!

My takeaway: Do something scary. Make yourself vulnerable. Problem solve. Figure it out. And when all else fails, ask for help.

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