Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

If it becomes an annual tradition, I so quit!

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Being an introvert, I had no plans for any New Year’s Eve parties, but I started getting restless after dark, so I went for — what else? — a walk around Shanghai. There were preparations for big outdoor events at a few places, but all were closed off from outsiders, even the one in Shanghai Times Square, the one on Huaihai Road. Yes, there is more than one Shanghai Times Square. None of them are square. And there is no Shanghai Times. Go figure.

But this isn’t about celebrations. It’s about scaring the living krep out of the Chinese, maybe even enough that some of them will begin obeying traffic laws.

Maybe.

I was already stewing when the light changed — it took me a few seconds to notice I had the green. Then, I admit, I was still distracted as I crossed. I noticed the little git running the red on his motor scooter, and even that he was honking at me — I just didn’t pay him any heed. After all, I had the green, and in fact had had it for a longish time, around ten seconds. I figured that if the twit was arrogant enough to run a red, he at least had the native intelligence required to navigate toward the widening two or three meter gap between my arse and the sidewalk instead of the narrowing one between my face and a stopped car.

And there I go figuring again, and once again failing to take into account various factors well known to me, including: the Chinese obsession with passing in front of everyone, inertia be damned!; the fact that a beeped horn apparently trumps the laws of traffic, physics, and common sense; and the fact that rational, sane, predictible behavior is hopelessly confusing to the Chinese.

So, yeah, he hit me.

Full speed.

Full body impact.

And do recall that he was racing through a red.

Knocked me at least a meter or two (or four) before I landed, and not on my feet.

But that’s not the part that truly scared him, his passenger, or the dozens of witnesses.

Running a laowai and knocking him smack to the pavement when you are blatantly running a red in front of dozens of witnesses, yeah, that’s scary. But when that laowai rises up like The freakin’ Terminator without a single scratch or scuff-mark on him, and reams you for being too stupid to understand what a red light means….

I don’t know if he wet himself but, if not, it must’ve been close. He was terrified. And everyone watching was gaping.

Americans, man. We’re flipping indestructible.

And at least a few dozen Shanghainese will now, at least, think twice about treating traffic lights as mere decorations.

(And yes, I have more than a month’s worth of blogging in my notebook. Soon, soon.)

CLARIFICATION: I typed this one too quickly. I was hit by a motor scooter, not a car or truck. Also, this happened on actual New Year’s Eve, 31 December, not the eve of the Lunar New Year, hence my comment about being more than a month behind. Sorry for the misunderstandings. πŸ™‚

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Written by [IMH]

6 February 2006 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Shanghai Stories

No Responses Yet

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  1. OMG, wow, that was amazing Ian! Are you sure you’re not hurt? No internal bleeding or anything? Well, I hope so.

    I know it’s not yer fault but please be more careful next year. πŸ™‚

    Ro

    6 February 2006 at 8:54 pm

  2. This story is really funny as long as you are ok.

    When my brother lived in Japan, he assimilated too well to the “traffic laws be damned culture”. He told me he used to terrify all the Japanese when he would tear down the street on his mountain bike, top speed screaming “passing on your right”.

    Jason

    7 February 2006 at 5:00 am

  3. I’m fine. Jaw ached for an hour afterward, that was all. A month onward, no ill effects. πŸ™‚

    Ian

    7 February 2006 at 10:24 am

  4. Jason: And that’s the difference between Japan and China — in China you get NO warning, except a panicky “wai wai wai!” if impact is unavoidable. Yeah, I mentioned that he honked, but honking is background noise. They honk for everything and for nothing.

    Ian

    7 February 2006 at 4:24 pm

  5. Hahahaha!!!

    Ergo

    9 February 2006 at 11:21 pm

  6. My guess is that you’re in a whole different country over there.

    David M. Brown

    11 February 2006 at 4:44 pm

  7. Came here from Noodlefood. Great story. Glad you’re ok.

    (My first comment is still floating around the ether, so I thought I’d try again.)

    Happy New Year!

    oldsalt

    11 February 2006 at 4:57 pm

  8. oldsalt, sorry, I thought I approved your first comment. Looks like I mistakenly deleted it. Mea culpa!

    Ian

    14 February 2006 at 1:44 pm


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If it becomes an annual tradition, I so quit!

with 8 comments

Being an introvert, I had no plans for any New Year’s Eve parties, but I started getting restless after dark, so I went for — what else? — a walk around Shanghai. There were preparations for big outdoor events at a few places, but all were closed off from outsiders, even the one in Shanghai Times Square, the one on Huaihai Road. Yes, there is more than one Shanghai Times Square. None of them are square. And there is no Shanghai Times. Go figure.

But this isn’t about celebrations. It’s about scaring the living krep out of the Chinese, maybe even enough that some of them will begin obeying traffic laws.

Maybe.

I was already stewing when the light changed — it took me a few seconds to notice I had the green. Then, I admit, I was still distracted as I crossed. I noticed the little git running the red on his motor scooter, and even that he was honking at me — I just didn’t pay him any heed. After all, I had the green, and in fact had had it for a longish time, around ten seconds. I figured that if the twit was arrogant enough to run a red, he at least had the native intelligence required to navigate toward the widening two or three meter gap between my arse and the sidewalk instead of the narrowing one between my face and a stopped car.

And there I go figuring again, and once again failing to take into account various factors well known to me, including: the Chinese obsession with passing in front of everyone, inertia be damned!; the fact that a beeped horn apparently trumps the laws of traffic, physics, and common sense; and the fact that rational, sane, predictible behavior is hopelessly confusing to the Chinese.

So, yeah, he hit me.

Full speed.

Full body impact.

And do recall that he was racing through a red.

Knocked me at least a meter or two (or four) before I landed, and not on my feet.

But that’s not the part that truly scared him, his passenger, or the dozens of witnesses.

Running a laowai and knocking him smack to the pavement when you are blatantly running a red in front of dozens of witnesses, yeah, that’s scary. But when that laowai rises up like The freakin’ Terminator without a single scratch or scuff-mark on him, and reams you for being too stupid to understand what a red light means….

I don’t know if he wet himself but, if not, it must’ve been close. He was terrified. And everyone watching was gaping.

Americans, man. We’re flipping indestructible.

And at least a few dozen Shanghainese will now, at least, think twice about treating traffic lights as mere decorations.

(And yes, I have more than a month’s worth of blogging in my notebook. Soon, soon.)

CLARIFICATION: I typed this one too quickly. I was hit by a motor scooter, not a car or truck. Also, this happened on actual New Year’s Eve, 31 December, not the eve of the Lunar New Year, hence my comment about being more than a month behind. Sorry for the misunderstandings. πŸ™‚

Written by [IMH]

6 February 2006 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Shanghai Stories

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. OMG, wow, that was amazing Ian! Are you sure you’re not hurt? No internal bleeding or anything? Well, I hope so.

    I know it’s not yer fault but please be more careful next year. πŸ™‚

    Ro

    6 February 2006 at 8:54 pm

  2. This story is really funny as long as you are ok.

    When my brother lived in Japan, he assimilated too well to the “traffic laws be damned culture”. He told me he used to terrify all the Japanese when he would tear down the street on his mountain bike, top speed screaming “passing on your right”.

    Jason

    7 February 2006 at 5:00 am

  3. I’m fine. Jaw ached for an hour afterward, that was all. A month onward, no ill effects. πŸ™‚

    Ian

    7 February 2006 at 10:24 am

  4. Jason: And that’s the difference between Japan and China — in China you get NO warning, except a panicky “wai wai wai!” if impact is unavoidable. Yeah, I mentioned that he honked, but honking is background noise. They honk for everything and for nothing.

    Ian

    7 February 2006 at 4:24 pm

  5. Hahahaha!!!

    Ergo

    9 February 2006 at 11:21 pm

  6. My guess is that you’re in a whole different country over there.

    David M. Brown

    11 February 2006 at 4:44 pm

  7. Came here from Noodlefood. Great story. Glad you’re ok.

    (My first comment is still floating around the ether, so I thought I’d try again.)

    Happy New Year!

    oldsalt

    11 February 2006 at 4:57 pm

  8. oldsalt, sorry, I thought I approved your first comment. Looks like I mistakenly deleted it. Mea culpa!

    Ian

    14 February 2006 at 1:44 pm


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