As I have done for twenty years, I leave work and light a cigarette as I make my way back home.
The wife has told me to buy bread. I stop outside the bakery and wait to finish my cancer before I enter. Suddenly three cops on scooters surround me.
The main cop: Do you speak Chinese?
I’m fucking freaked out. What the fuck have I done?
Me: A Little, but I’m not conversant in it.
Cop One calls a buddy over. “Speak to this waiguoren.”
They all giggle.
Cop Three leaps off of his girlbike.
Cop Three: Gimme an ID.
Me: Why? What have I done?
Cop Three: You’re smoking on the sidewalk!
Me: Apologies! I Didn’t know that was illegal. Are you sure?
Cop Three: Yes! In Taiwan it’s illegal to smoke on the sidewalk!
Me: Wait a minute. (I point to three dudes across the street, gleefully smoking.) Are they allowed to smoke? Are you going to pester them for their IDs?
I walk off and put my offensive cigarette out on the sidewalk, and they surround me. like I’m going to charge away at any second.
Cop Three: Show me your ID!
Me: Why are you asking me and not asking them? Is it because I am weiguoren?
Cops One and Two: Let’s go.
Cop Three is committed now. There’s no way that fucker is giving up.
So I give him my ID. He checks it on his stupid fucking smart device.
Cop Three: Oh, you’re Jimi Lee?
Me: I suppose, pretty much.
Cop Three: Well, you’re free to go.
Cop One and Two: Jesus, dude, let’s get the fuck out of here!
Eventually they did get the fuck out, but I was a little traumatized.
I get home.
Tell the wife: Jesus, this was shit. Had the whole fucking day ruined.
Now my wife is under five feet tall, but she doesn’t eat shit. From anybody.
Wife: We’re going to the police station, NOW!
Her: Why did you give my husband shit for smoking on the sidewalk, when you drive past thousands of Taiwanese doing the same?
Damn, did she give them shit. They were very apologetic.
Is smoking outside really against the rules?