Shock value

Yesterday I watched a bus pull away just as an older man was running up to it. Nothing unusual. I have gotten used to not chasing down buses in China because I know they will never stop for me. No, Jiangyin buses wouldn’t stop if Mao himself was chasing them down. This bus driver today not only did not wait for the man running toward the bus, but the driver swerved around the man, which really says nothing less than “screw you.”

To quote a podcast I listened to today, the host said something like, the shock value in a country is gone once the people embrace public urination. I think that’s only true for natives. I don’t know why buses bug me while I regularly pass a man on the street thoughtlessly zipping up his fly while staring straight at me. Somehow, the shock value of the Chinese bus schedule still gets to me.

Maybe there are different shock levels. Obviously, public urination (especially next to my school) is worse than missing the bus, but are those two even on the same level? Maybe it’s relative to the human behavior that would follow if the running man did make it on the bus. Let’s suppose all the seats are taken by younger people. It’s Chinese culture to give up your seat to someone older, pregnant, with a small child, or disabled, so somebody would give up their seat for him. I would say it’s human nature but I can’t speak for NYC subways. So, if it’s that engrained in Chinese culture to respect your elder, then why did the driver not wait for a second longer to pick this man up? Why do elder people still do hard labor while young men stand around watching?

I was about to post this yesterday, but I’m glad I waited until today because a bus waited for me. That’s China in a nutshell; once I think I have something figured out, it turns into a pumpkin. The amazing thing was, I saw the bus from across the street and didn’t even try to run to catch it. But, I did carelessly cross the busy street and the driver must have noticed that. So he not only waited, but actually stopped the bus again for me. Can I repeat that? Stopped the bus. For. Me.

I sat down in a daze. Like my secret crush just asked me on a date and I might even run after the next bus.


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