The Chinese have much the same approach to queuing as the French, they line up obediently until the bus arrives, or the door opens, or whatever it is they are waiting in line for, and then it is suddenly survival of the fittest, and the whole point of queuing becomes lost in a struggle to the death.
Well, everyday I had to catch a bus to get to the place where the school’s bus picked me up and the daily experience of this “queuing” was a deeply depressing experience for me as a Good Englishman. It led to my actually punching a couple of guys on one memorable occasion, not something I am prone to do by any means, but on this day I hauled off and really clobbered a couple of guys.
The situation was that the bus had arrived, and as normal, all hell broke out and everyone did their darnedest to get onto the bus, but this time there was a mother and her small kid also trying to get onto the bus, and the kid was forced off the bus whilst his mother managed to get on the bus, and I saw that the kid had no chance of getting onto the bus, nor his mum a chance to get off the bus to join him. So I tried to help the kid get back onto the bus, but a couple of young men wouldn’t make way for this to happen and simply trampled the kid into the ground, literally! So I tried to make them aware of what was happening to the kid, but they didn’t give a damn and carried on trying to clamber over the kid to get in the bus. So I felt that this was not tolerable, and simply hauled off and gave them both a good punch in the face, and made it obvious that I was prepared to go even further. They were both really surprised at my actions, and I simply grabbed both of them by their collars and yanked them off the bus, and then stood in the entrance of the bus making it obvious that I would clobber anyone who tried to get into the bus until the kid had managed to get on the bus and joined his mum. Which he did, whereupon I simply went to my seat and let anyone on who wanted to get on…….. Curiously enough, there was no reaction to my hitting those two guys, every one simply got onto the bus and that was that.
On another occasion in the bus to work, there had been a horrible earthquake in the south of the country, and the government announced that there would be a 2 minute silence for the victims of the earthquake, and to my amazement all traffic suddenly stopped, including my bus, everyone went silent and the two minute silence was observed. An amazing experience.
Another odd thing about public buses in Beijing, and probably in all cites, was the fact that all the busses had colour TVs in them, several of the things hanging from the ceiling, all tuned to the main news channel, so one could see the news on one’s way to work. Quite fun really.
Ah, memories, memories….. I had a really good time (generally) whilst living in Beijing. I suspect I shall write more about the oddities of living in Beijing soon…