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Lines in China


Yesterday after checking out Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, I decided to go to Tiananmen Square to take some picture. I walked through Qianmen Gate which was impressive and made my way to the security check point that inspects each person before entering the square.

I was expecting some kind of security check, but due to recent terrorist attacks the Beijing government has taken extra precautions in keeping the area safe. On top of having my bag X-rayed I would also be patted down and I would have to show some identification. Not really an issue, but it does slow the line down considerably. Unfortunately, Chinese people don’t take kindly to lines.

Having lived three years in Japan, I’ve come to appreciate order. With established order, people are generally kinder and more patient with each other. Not only that but things seem to just move faster when everything is done in an orderly fashion. Lines

This kind of established order just does not exist in China. So when I got in line to get to Tiananmen, I knew I was in for a battle. When I first stepped up to the line I counted 15 people in front of me. Within minutes those 15 multiplied three fold as crowds of people attempted to funnel through the security check.

At one point I saw two guys squeezing in the side. One of them made eye contact with me and I gestured for him to go to the back of the line. He smirked, gave an apologetic hand raise, and went through the line. Lines 3

Twenty minutes later as I was inching my way closer to the entrance, I saw them walking out the exit. They saw me, pointed and laughed. They knew what they did may have been wrong, but in the end it proved to provide them with the result they desired, whereas I continued to do the right thing with almost zero result.

To these guys, the end result justified the means. This right there is one of the biggest difference between Chinese and western thinking. This deserves some more thought and explanation, but that will have to wait for another time.

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