I have difficulty reconciling that the same people who push, shove, and elbow their way to be first in line are the same ones I shouldn’t touch. You don’t hug the Chinese upon greeting them, thanking them, or offering sympathy. It just isn’t done. I’m a hugger and give them freely, to people I know 😉 It kills me not to be able to so watch out friends and family. When I come back prepare yourselves for a hugfest.
No physical contact is allowed when it’s about showing affection and tenderness to people who you know and love but they’ll mow you over if you stand between them and the train station waiting area. No amount of physical touching is off-limits then. Ask Anders. A 90-year old, 100 pound, 4’9″ nainai (granny) practically gave him a sigmoidoscopy with the handle of her carry-on suitcase while going through security in Hong Kong. You should have seen this little dynamo. She had more contact with his rear end in 1 minute than I do in a week! She wasn’t about to wait for Anders to pick up the pace. She snaked her way past everyone in her path and then collapsed into a chair to wait to board the train. No wonder, she put out more effort shuffling by a crowd of people than a tight end does in the first quarter of a football game. Actually, she could be a tight end the way she zigged and zagged her way through the throng of travelers.
You know the fun part? It forces one to be just as irritating and push right back. We don’t normally get to do that in the US. It’s not part of our daily existence but it’s
kind of fun. Yesterday as I exited an elevator a young man was getting on. I just aged myself by using the term young man didn’t I?! He decided when he was right next to me to turn around and get off. He actually pushed me and tried to continue on by to be first out of the elevator. Uh-uh, no way! I grinned and thought here’s my chance. I wasn’t going to stand for it anymore. He didn’t know who he was trying to beat out the door. Poor guy didn’t know that I lived and traveled in Europe for 5 years and pushed and shoved with the best that France and Italy had to offer. He did not get out first because I pushed right back and once off I didn’t let him scurry by like he tried to. I made him stop and go around behind me to get by. I secretly celebrated thwarting yet another person from taking advantage of my Western niceness. Take that (I’d insert the word that Ben taught me here but I know at least one person will probably know it and others would look it up). I can’t remember the word “to go” that he taught me yesterday but I remember the curse.
Buoyed with the confidence from the elevator encounter, I again “had” to be rude at Starbucks later in the afternoon. There was one man ahead of me in line and I waited next to him while he ordered and did whatever the heck was taking him so long to do in order to pay with his debit card. Some yahoo waltzed in past me and stood in line behind him! Again, no way. I was waiting more than patiently enough and I was not going to let him order before I did just because he wanted to pretend that I wasn’t standing there. I won that round too.
I am now a force to be reckoned with China. I’ll nudge you, trip you, and throw my shoulder into you if need be to keep my place in line. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll give you a hug!