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'Stolen bike' episode shows importance of grassroots virus prevention

By Ma Chi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-02-27 07:30

It might sound strange, but I really admire for the man who "stole" my bike.

Let me explain. It all started with the sweeping epidemic prevention efforts China has put in place since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan.

After the extended Spring Festival holiday, prolonged by three days due to the epidemic, I was among the first China Daily website employees to return to work, as I live close to the office. Most of my colleagues are working from home to prevent infection during their commutes, or in a crowded workspace.

On Tuesday morning, I rode to the office on my bike, as usual. As I got up late, I was in a rush. When I passed through the entrance to the office building, the only one available now as the others have been blocked for screening purposes, I heard a man shouting behind me. It was the guard who inspected people going in and out of the building to screen out virus carriers.

Anxious to get to the office on time, I ignored his shouting and kept riding. My thinking was, "I have no temperature or cough, I am healthy and I don't need to go through the check".

After arriving at the nearly empty office — which has been this way for almost a month — I began my work day, and thought little of the incident.

At lunch, when I left the office to go to the canteen, I noticed my bike, which I had parked outside the office door, was gone! It was weird, because there were only a few people in the office, all of them colleagues I am quite familiar with. Could it be the cleaner? Not likely. And with barely any visitors to the office, who could this mysterious "thief" be?

I was frustrated. But I had no choice but to accept it and go to lunch.

On the way, two colleagues accompanying me decided to ask the inspectors at the building entrance if they knew anything about the stolen bike.

To my surprise, one of them seemed to know me. More unexpectedly, he confronted me, saying: "Why did you just ride through and ignore me?" It was the man who tried to stop me in the morning.

I was a little embarrassed, like I was caught doing something bad. I tried to argue, saying "I guess it was not a big deal. I have come here for several weeks."

He got even angrier. "Had I not known you are an employee of China Daily, I would have reported you to the police!"

I was speechless.

Then he said something I was delighted to hear. "I followed you to your office, and found your bike there."

So, it was he who "stole" my bike. A smart move, as he knew I would come back to look for it.

Following his instructions, I was reunited with my bike. I was glad to have it back, and I felt a sense of respect toward the elderly man, who faithfully did his work – making sure no people infected with the virus enter the building.

I think it is thanks to the effort of numerous people like him that China has been able to prevent the epidemic from further spreading, thus protecting the lives of millions of people.

The story is edited by Ian Goodrum.

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