Before I get into this blog post, let me start by saying that I got my hair dyed pink!

That might not seem like a big deal, but I’ve never, ever dyed my hair before, so it’s exciting for me.

pink hair

Of course, it didn’t turn out how I’d planned. Every time you walk into a Chinese salon as a foreigner, it’s a shot in the dark. I tried to limit the language barrier, though. I showed the stylist pictures of what I wanted. I even called my Chinese friend and had her explain in Mandarin what I wanted.

I asked him to lighten my already blonde hair so that the pink would show up better. Then, I asked him to put light pink over it.

Apparently that meant he was going to dye my hair darker first, then dye hot pink, almost purple, on top.

Good try, China.

Anyway, on to my story …

On this blog, I’ve mentioned that I lose things all the time. (Currently needing to call and cancel my lost debit card as I write this.) Last week, a little over 200 RMB, or $30, disappeared from my wallet. Although I was pissed, I was mainly angry with myself for losing money.

The next day, I withdrew another 200 RMB from the bank during my lunch break to pay for something later that day. I placed the cash in my wallet. After school, I reached into my wallet, and the money was gone.

At this point, I was pretty sure someone was stealing from me. Probably a student.

I was hesitant to report the money as stolen to my school authorities, though. I didn’t want to accuse anyone. For some reason, I felt especially uncomfortable because I’m a foreigner. I felt as though it would come off that I don’t trust Chinese people.

A few days later, 40 RMB disappeared from Daniel’s wallet. Thankfully, he had the balls to tell our contact teacher, Fiona.

Within 24 hours, she figured out who the culprit was.

It was a fourth-grade student named Lucy. When this news came to light, we were really disappointed, because Lucy is a frequent visitor to our office. Our first day, she came in, introduced herself, and handed me a hand-made welcome card. She’s paid visits every day, multiple times per day.

Apparently, she had stolen money from us twice before, five times in total. The grand amount came to almost $100.

She told her teacher that we didn’t notice, so she figured we didn’t care.

China student
My adorable students! Lucy is not pictured.

Lucy had to deliver a formal apology to us, and her mother paid us back the money. Fiona scared Lucy by telling her, “If the foreign teachers don’t forgive you, maybe we’ll have to take you down to the police station.” That scared the bejesus out of little Lucy, which I thought was hilarious. Man, kids are dumb.

The experience was a little upsetting, though.

Even though Shenzhen is a big city in a foreign country, I’ve always felt safe here. I feel comfortable walking alone at night. When we want to close our apartment door, we have to shut it, then give an extra shove. As a result, we’ve accidentally left our door cracked open multiple times while we’ve been out for nine-hour work days. No one has ever entered or stolen anything.

Now we feel we can’t trust students anymore. I’m sure Lucy is a special case, but at the same time, she was kind of our friend. (Well, as much of a friend as a student can be.) It’s unsettling.

Even more unsettling was the news that she had stolen from us twice before, and we hadn’t noticed.

In a way, it makes sense. I usually pay for things with WeChat, a phone app Chinese people use to pay for almost everything. I only keep money in my wallet in case I go somewhere that exclusively accepts cash. So I go days without looking in my purse. By the time I do, I’ve forgotten how much was in there beforehand. So, yes, it makes sense that I didn’t notice.

On the other hand, if I didn’t notice money was being stolen from me … how much of a spoiled American am I?