Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sometimes, just occasionally, the Chinese really bug the crap out of me

I was having a nice, relaxed day. The sun was shining. I was feeling well-disposed towards the world at large.

And then, just as I was about to nip into my local mini-supermarket to try to pick up a can of Diet Coke, this guy cycled past me (on the sidewalk, naturally), stopped right in front of me, and then with great care and deliberation parked his bike right across the entrance to the shop (he went in himself, but pulled the bike across the opening behind him, as if consciously trying to bar access to anyone else). I was about 2ft from him, and quite obviously about to enter the shop. He looked me in the face. He knew that.

And he just completely ignored me and left his bike blocking the doorway.

Suddenly my mellow disposition evaporated. I was absolutely fucking livid. I was tempted to YELL at him. But yelling too readily leads to protracted confrontations, sometimes fights. I was tempted to hurl the bike out of the way and trample on it. There were a lot of things I could have done with the bike - anal insertion crossed my mind for a moment. Instead, I made an elaborate demonstration of reasonableness by picking it up very gently and moving it a yard or two to the right, so that it was up against a wall, not blocking anything.

The guy gave me a cold look, as if to say, "Make sure you put it back when you're finished." I think he was very close to launching into a violent exchange of words with me, but took due note of the fact that I was nearly twice as big as him and quivering with barely-suppressed rage.

The thing that gets me down about this kind of behaviour is that it is so bloody common. I always try to be wary of generalizing too much - particularly when making a negative observation on a national or ethnic group - but..... there is a prevalent trait in many of the Chinese for being complete arseholes in ridiculous, petty, pointless ways like this. It is as if they feel a need to assert their importance in the world, to affirm their imagined superiority over others by inflicting wanton inconvenience on people.

I try to be tolerant about this kind of thing. I try to understand. I try to make allowances. I am as forgiving as I can be of individuals - there are reasons why they do this. (Maybe he's short-sighted. Maybe he's a simpleton. Maybe he's having a very bad day. Maybe he wants to try to stop other people coming into the store while he's buying condoms or hair-restorer.) I try to be as forgiving as I can of the whole people - there are reasons why they are like this. (Traumas in the collective experience, kinks in the national psyche, bizarre perversions of common sense in the culture.)

Yes, yes, I am really (most of the time) very tolerant of the fact that they are like this now. But jeez, they've got to bloody well change. And fast.


Anonymous said...

Anal insertion? Which bit first? Handlebar(s)? Saddle?? Pedal??? Wheel???? Ooof!

On that note! I hate arseholes too - one cut in front of me today on the dual carriageway: I was in the fast lane, probably a little too near the car in front (ie no room to manouevre in front of me). But my car is relatively new and the brakes are very effective. Then this f*n*y (please excuse my language also) menacingly bombed up behind me in his Subaru, undertook me, cut in front of me, then slammed the brakes on. I had to do an emergency stop at 70mph!

I flashed him (with lights, not body parts). He made a rude sign at me. I flicked the Vs back at him. Childish, yes. But I felt so much the better for it (but not sure what my passenger made of it all - but I don't care).

And no, it wasn't in 'Rab C' land - it was in genteel Perthshire!

Off back downstairs to forceably remove the remote control off my house guest and put something other than the effing History Channel on - Last Night of the Proms - one of those British eccentricities I just can't miss!

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of incident that gets me worked up for days.

1. "Maybe he wants to try to stop other people coming into the store while he's buying condoms or hair-restorer."

If you will allow me to switch on my imagination for a moment: I have decided he was a member of the triad and was going to collect the weekly protection money. (Will your blog get censored because I wrote "triad?")

2. Did you put the bike back where he had left it? Was it a showdown of the eyes, like that scene in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly? 'Cause that would be awesome.

3. Did you run to the upstairs apartment, lie in wait for him to exit the store, nudge a big planter over the balcony directly onto his head, then run downstairs and ride off on his bike?

4. What the heck is a dual carriageway?

5. What the heck does "f*n*y" mean? No, wait. I don't want to know.

Froog said...

1) No sign of censorship yet. But then, that would be because there are no 'triads' in China. Of course not.

And I know sometimes quite small guys can be quite scarily violent, but this chap really was far weedy to be a criminal enforcer.

2) The Chinese won't maintain eye contact with you long enough (or at all) for one of those brooding Mexican stand-offs to develop. I was reminded more of the scene in 'For A Few Dollars More' where Lee Van Cleef taunts Klaus Kinski by striking matches on his chin stubble.

3) I like your re-incorporation of an element from a previous blog story, but.... alas, no. I'm not even sure that that store has an upstairs (and I'd have no idea how to access it if it did). Most of Beijing is still predominantly low-rise; the older, undeveloped areas - like the one where I live - are mostly single story. The restaurant where the pot plant incident happened does have an upstairs. Given your mother's morbid fascination with pot plants, I think you should establish her whereabouts on the night in question.

4) A dual carriageway is, in the UK, a major road that has a central barrier between the opposing lanes, but has a lesser status than 'motorways' (our main inter-city highways). The practical and legal differences are pretty small, and I can't offhand remember what they are. Essentially, this is a lots of cars, high speed, bad driving standards scenario.

5) F*n*y is one of the more curious divergences of British and American English: for you, I believe, it generally just means your behind; for us, it means, well, your front bottom.