Loan sharks at the door?

Yesterday afternoon my doorbell started ringing off the wall. Someone outside was pushing it again and again and again. I answered the intercom:

Me: “Hello?”

Them: (Lots of fast Cantonese talking)

Me: “Deng yat jan, deng yat jan!” (Wait a minute, wait a minute!)

I hang up the intercom. They keep ringing. I go to the outside gate and open the door to be greeted by two suddenly very surprised Chinese guys. One in a rather cool pink t-shirt with a shaved head and a sheaf of papers. The other in black. Young-ish. Both rather hip and well-groomed.

They look at my white face.

They lean back and look at the house number.

They look at my face.

One asks in English if I just moved there.

I explain that we just moved in a few weeks ago.

They look dejected. They say they are looking for someone who used to live there. They ask about the landlord. I tell them we rent through an agency. They confer with each other, sadly shake their heads and walk away.

Fingers crossed that they were representatives of the loan sharks who’ve been sending letters to our house! Now that they know we aren’t their prey, the letters should stop, right?


This morning I noticed something in the mailbox:

This one had been hand delivered as it wasn’t in an envelope with a stamp. I am now kicking myself that I didn’t check the mailbox yesterday. Did those guys leave that note before they started ringing my door bell? Were those guys just some other random people looking for the former tenants? I’m banking on the former, but only time will tell.

I truly wish I had a picture of their faces when I opened the gate and they saw me. Breathtaking comic surprise.

13 responses to “Loan sharks at the door?

    • Not quite as bad as it sounds since it’s Hong Kong dollars–making it just under $20,000. Still a pretty sizable loan! Yikes about threats to have your things impounded! Did you sort that out or is it on-going?

      • Even $20,000 is a lotta mulla, in my books!

        Yes, thank goodness – I was able to sort it out without too much trouble, in the end. It was a bit worrying though, and delicate to balance the requisite fierceness without threatening anyone so as to engender loss of face, you know!

  1. That’s priceless – and it means that your cantonese must be pretty good as they didn’t expect a white face when you opened the door! Small consolation I know.

    • My non-Cantonese identity was only saved by the poor quality of the intercom paired with a stock phrase that I’ve actually had the chance to practice. My Cantonese remains extremely poor. But nice of you to assume otherwise!

  2. This note is similar to the last one but with both debtor and creditor names specified, and the names are different from the previous note. There is also what seems to be a company’s name on it as well. Numbers on top left and bottom right corner looks like a HK phone #.

    (Name of a company or so it seems)
    Cheung (next 2 characters translate to the western name Mary)
    Owes Chan (next 2 shows a guy’s name)
    Repaid debt or bear consequence

    Whether the loan sharks couldn’t keep their books straight or some pranksters being a public nuisance, I hope you get this resolve either way.

    I do enjoy reading your day-to-day HK adventures

    • Sundanze, you are my hero. Thanks very much for translating again. I did note the HK phone numbers; we’ll probably have someone call later today…

  3. Wow!… Glad to hear that you are ok, and that hopefully this situation is on its way towards getting resolved soon! Big props to you for answering the door, and it’s great that you have a good sense of humor about the whole thing! Take care!

    • I feel much better actually, now that I’ve seen them and they’ve seen me. In retrospect I might have been nuts to answer the door, but it really seemed to diffuse the whole situation.

    • Yes, you’re right that we should take care. We’ve been chatting with our neighborhood security and they seem to be taking it pretty seriously.

  4. thank god they id’ed you.

    otherwise, they would escalate the situation by painting red characters on the hallway requiring repayment, or stray you with alkanline liquids or lock your doors and start a fire.

    • For some reason I was never terribly frightened. Perhaps I figured they’d try to intimidate us in person (and then see who we were) before resorting to more scary tactics. But perhaps I’m just naive. Either way, I’m happy to report that we haven’t received another letter (or visit) since this post over two months ago.

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