Friday, October 20, 2006

A Lesson on Being Considerate

Why is it that a wonderful, productive, euphoric day can be temporarily wrecked just by someone yelling at you on the subway? After a full-day floral workshop (which was absolutely amazing and I'll tell you more about it later), I was making my way home on the subway will all my carefully crafted floral work wrapped up in bundles. It was awkward to carry and not something I wanted to trek onto the train with, but I had no choice. I wrapped everything up as best I could, and I thought it was manageable. Not to mention, I carefully selected a spot way down at the end of the train tracks where there were the least amount of people boarding.

Unfortunately, I was attempting this just at the beginning of the evening rush hour. There are literally THOUSANDS of people trying to cram into every train. I'm not joking. It's China. Lots of people live here and every morning and every evening they stack themselves into the subway trains like sardines, and when the doors open they hop out like from a clown car. Sometimes I just don't understand how we all fit. (On a side note: From what I can tell, Asians don't sweat much, so you rarely have a stinky armpit in your face. That's nice.)

I made it on and off the first train just fine, but when I was peeking around the corner at the second station to see if it was safe to merge with the crazy mass of people, a lady came rarin' around the corner and ran into part of my bundles. "Be Careful! Be CONSIDERATE!!!," she yelled at me and gave me a very nasty look, before barreling down the walkway towards the tracks.

Of course I felt bad that I might have gotten in her way, but I find it interesting that shortly the feeling of remorse passed and my emotions turned to anger--meaning that for just a split second, I would have happily ruined a days worth of floral work just to whomp the lady over the head with my packages and yell back in a childish way "No YOU be CAREFUL and CONSIDERATE, Lady!!" Where does that feeling come from? I guess part of my reaction to this incident stems from the fact that I find HKers to have some of the most INconsiderate subway manners of any country I've ever visited and had the pleasure of riding its subway trains. For the most part everyone is friendly and helpful here, but the second they enter the subway, some deep-seated animal instinct awakens and causes an all out race for the trains. Pushing, shoving, squashing small children, toppling old ladies--all of this is perfectly acceptable behavior. It's like watching a colony of ants crawl all over each other. It's bizarre.

Maybe I'll come to see things differently the longer I live here. And like I mentioned already, the people of HK are wonderful and welcoming, but their subway manners are a bit lacking. But then, who am I to judge? I got yelled at today, so obviously I'm not perfect either.


matt said...

I always try to give them my sympathy - because I do sweat and my armpits are exactly at their face-level.

hombre guapo said...

I read this comment yesterday and literally thought to myself, "even during the really busy times I think Koreans are mostly polite." Well, today I got off the subway at a station and accidently walked on a lady's heels, a common happening here. But this lady was not happy and started me down in which I gave a slight bow trying my best to apologize. She still gave me the "death state" and said something, which at this point everyone turned to stare at me.
Now I cannot rememeber why I thought it was necessary for me to comment.

Crabby Rangoon said...

Yeah, I often feel like people are looking at me, especially when I don't know how to follow some of the normal social behaviors, or when I blatantly ignore them.

cabadoo said...

don't change your ways...running down children and old ladies is completely not acceptable, i don't care what country you are from. and who knows why that lady was yelling....she sounds crazy. were you in her way or something? was there room for her to run around you instead of running into you? your possible good deed: maybe she just needed someone to yell at for the day and you were able to serve that purpose. move on rude lady and leave my crabby rangoon friend alone!!

LauraLunch said...

"Be Careful! Be Condsiderate!" is Engrish for "Oh, excuse me! By the way, beautiful flowers!"