Monday, March 15, 2010

What's wrong with this picture?

Well, apart from the fact there is no picture, of course. Darn - one of those occasions when I so wish I'd had my camera with me.

Anyway.... use your imaginations, if you will.

I'm on my way to the neighbourhood supermarket to do my weekly shop. A car coming towards me down the bike lane suddenly does a 90-degree turn, driving up on to the sidewalk right in front of me and parking perpendicularly across it, completely blocking passage for pedestrians like me, and with its front bumper virtually resting on the steps of a building.

Now, what exactly do I find so unexpected or outrageous about this?

Cars using the bicycle lane? Alas, no. Cars fairly routinely drive down and park in the bicycle lanes; there doesn't seem to be any kind of enforcement of traffic laws relating to this. Cars parking on the sidewalk? Again, no: distressingly common. Once again, there's seldom any enforcement; and where there is, the 'wardens' invariably start levying ad hoc fees for 'violations' (rather than actual fines, or threats of court action) and pocket the money for themselves, so creating illicit paid parking schemes. And parking on the sidewalk does seem to be especially common on this stretch of road; although most people at least take the care to park diagonally, so they're not leaving half of the bike lane blocked off with the arse-end of their car like this guy was. The driver's brutish lack of concern for anyone but himself? Alas, no: yet again, it seems to be absolutely standard-issue in this country. I mean, if you're going to completely block a sidewalk by parking across it, why wouldn't you also cut up - and nearly run down - a pedestrian who would have been past you in another couple of seconds? Visiting such petty aggravations on their fellow citizens seems to be one of the highest joys in life for most Chinese.

No, the thing I found most gobsmacking about this little incident was that the building whose entrance steps our oafish driver was half blocking was.... a branch of the Rural Commercial Bank of China.

Really - in what other country in the world would someone think it is OK to park their car in the entrance to a bank??

I would have liked to see SWAT teams appear out of nowhere and pistol-whip the little bastard to a pulp. Alas, that revenge fantasy went unfulfilled. I tried making meaningful eye contact with a security guard just inside the door of the bank, mugging "Are you really going to let him park there?"..... but he just shrugged and grinned. He wasn't really equipped to dole out the arse-whooping I was hoping for, anyway. Like most Beijing 'security guards', he was no more than about 17 years old, and was armed only with an electric cattle-prod which probably hadn't had a battery recharge in months.

There is, as yet, very little armed bank robbery in China. But I'm starting to think that a niche exists....


Gary said...

Sometimes you remind me why I'm glad to be out of China.

Froog said...

Well, I suppose that is my 'mission statement'. Or one of them.

Froog - The Consolation of the Ex-Expat!