I actually first heard about this guy a few months ago, but it came across as an isolated incident and everyone seemed to think he would just move on so I pretty much ignored it. What happened was a tall, blond Westerner was caught asking people for money. He even had the gall to ask for money from another Westerner. He had a sob-story about his wallet getting stolen and needing 20 RMB to get home (ps, you can get everywhere in Changsha for 2 rmb by bus).
Changsha is a small town (relatively), and the expat community is even smaller. Even if we don’t all know each other personally, we can always find someone who knows someone else around here. It’s like six degrees of Kevin Bacon. We all at least know each other through someone else. And we are rare enough that the locals all take notice of the Westerners and what we are doing. I can’t eat out anywhere without people “slyly” taking pictures of me. We thought when we first heard of this guy several months ago that it was just a weird anomaly and he would leave soon enough. But, boy, were we wrong.
Apparently, this griefer has been getting more desperate or more bold (or both) in his begging. He has been popping up all over town (usually between Furong Lu and Buxing Jie) asking Westerners and locals for money. He will even hop on buses and grief riders. But what really takes the cake and earns him “Ugly Foreigner” status is that he has been stealing people’s drinks at Starbucks. I kid you not. According to local weibo users:
“I’ve seen him before. He grabbed a girl’s coffee inside the West-side Starbucks, then came back and did it many more times! I was just shocked.”
“Once a foreigner at Houjiatang grabbed a bottle of watermelon juice from me, it’s just ridiculous. I forgot whether or not he said thank you to me.”
So this guy has moved from occasional annoyance to thief and making all foreigners look bad. He has been a blight on Changsha for about two years and it is time for him to GTFO. So if you see this guy, don’t give him any money and guard your coffee!
An article over at The Shanghaiist for some reason is trying to gain sympathy for this man. An unnamed source claims the griefer has been in Changsha for 5 years, is HIV positive, and was left destitute after a girlfriend robbed him. I seriously do not know why he hasn’t been picked up and handed over to the embassy for deportation. The American embassy traditionally will return Americans back home when they fall on hard times or have serious medical issues come up. I don’t doubt that this man needs help, but he isn’t going to get it on the local buses. He needs to go.