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There’s more space at the back of the bus! E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Mary Higgins
When the summer heat becomes unbearable, I leave my bicycle in the parking garage and I head to the good 'ol bus stop. I don't mind the bus, it's relatively quick and more importantly, air conditioned but it does have the effect of driving my “rage-o-meter” through the roof. If you ever see a bus drive by in Shanghai, then you are sure to notice that there is an enormous depression right in the center of the bus. This depression is a result of every passenger without a seat refusing to move any further away than their arms gripping the doors will let them. It doesn't matter if they are getting off in 17 stops. For some reason they absolutely must be within arms reach of the door at all times. This is most noticeable when you need to get by someone to get off, the people in front of you will usually do no more than slightly arch their backs or barely twist their shoulders.

Now, the “when in Rome” strategy teaches us all that it is perfectly ok to gently push someone out of the way without even saying “excuse me”. I can handle this but I get “frustratedified” when the bus has stopped, there are a dozen people in front of me not getting off, and I need to push each person out of the way. I have no problems saying a 不好意思 to each person as I'm nudging them.

Truthfully, I'm not apologizing to the person getting pushed rather I am preparing the guy in front of him to get out of the way. But, lo and behold, the next guy doesn't budge and he seems genuinely surprised when I then start to push him out of the way. This usually ends with my “pissedoffness” status rising to dangerous levels which leads to me simply barreling through every person and completely shoving people out of my way. When I'm in the midst of my shoving, I do feel absolutely terrible.

For those few brief moments, I admit that I am doing more irreparable damage than I should. However, those feelings are quickly replaced with new feelings of vindication when I need to push those last two people out of my way so that I can get off. Let me tell you about these guys: there are standing in the bus stairwell and COMPLETELY block the door. There is nowhere to move these people. Common sense dictates that these people are required to momentarily step onto the street, let others go by, and then get back on. But they don’t.

Instead they prefer to stand firmly, grip the door handle, and refuse to move. Since I have no qualms about doing whatever is necessary to get off the bus, I press on and put all of my body weight into things. These people swing out the door still holding the handle just like Indiana Jones when he was being dragged behind the jeep while holding his whip.

I…wha..bu…sneh? What's the deal? Is this person so terrified of losing his/her place in the stairwell that this is the only solution? It's rush hour on a Monday morning. Just step out of the way! Standing in the stairwell is a big responsibility. It's like sitting in the emergency exit seat on a plane. If you can't handle the pressure then you need to be prepared for the onslaught that will undoubtedly ensue.

Our valuable Editor Mary Higgins has been with us since Tuesday, 24 November 2009.

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