Miss Gioia

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bad China Day

If you stay in China long enough, you will start to notice some of the expats grumbling about "bad China days," as in today is not a good one. Bad China days are days where the cultural divide is really hard to overcome. Days where you just do not understand why people are behaving the way they are. Days where you just want to sit down and cry. For me, today is a bad China day.

I left for the airport at 7:20 this morning, which was plenty of time for my 8:30 flight on a regular day. We live right by the airport. The main intersection by our house, however, had a broken traffic light due to an early morning storm. In the United States, drivers tend to behave quite civilly in this kind of situation, allowing one car after another to proceed carefully - in turn, in line. Not so here. There is no such thing as civil behavior when it comes to broken traffic lights. All people can think about is pushing ahead to make sure that THEY get through. The problem is that if everyone pushes ahead, no one can go anywhere. We all get stuck.

After 20 minutes of sitting in the middle of a crazy pileup in the center of the intersection, I got out to signal to the cars perpindicular to ours that they needed to wait a minute so that order could be restored. Despite my quite respectful request for them to stop (where I stood in front of the car and held up my hand), they gunned the engine once a spare inch opened up and crept forward, blocking us further.

At that point, I slammed my hand on the windshield and raised my voice. I needed to make my point, you see. After that, the driver started screaming at me saying that I am a waiguoren (foreigner) and don't know anything. Then my driver gets out to defend me (sweet man) and screams at them too. At this point, I am so livid that all I can do is yell YOU ARE RIDICULOUS at the van full of male workers. Which did not do much good because I don't know the word for ridiculous in Chinese.

Eventually the driver and I stormed back to the car, where we waited for 15 more minutes with the van right in front of us. You see, they gained a foot and blocked our path (and the 50 cars behind us), but they could not go anywhere either.

I made it to the airport, but missed my flight. Changing my ticket was another long complicated story, which involved three counters and several irate people trying to push ahead of me in line.

Because, obviously, they were more important than me.

Bad, bad China day.

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Anonymous Amy not in RG anymore said...

Poor Rebecca! That intersection at J Lu is awful even on a day with the lights all working!

July 18, 2007 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

Reminds me of the day we were leaving Guangzhou through the old airport nearly 5 years ago. During trade show season. Our social worker had to nearly fight her way through lines of people just to clear a path while our group made a human chain and slogged our way through to get to the gates. I'd never heard her raise her voice until that moment. That afternoon was still worth every other moment we had on that trip and the next.

July 22, 2007 11:06 PM  
Blogger Mela said...

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July 18, 2007 1:05 PM  

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