Line, line, everywhere a line
Guidin’ all the people, breakin’ my mind
Stand here, don’t stand there, can’t you see the line?*
Wednesday I went in to Shanghai to get Terry’s birthday present (fyi 6 bags of the world’s best potato chips from Marks and Spencer – and they say I’m not a romantic!). Anyway, I get to the train station to come home and line up with at least 400 other people (there are 20 windows and each window has at least 20 people in it) and wait patiently for my turn. After 10 minutes or so, I have moved about halfway. It seems that in China, if you are buying tickets for three or four people all of you line up together and then when you get to the window you all talk to the cashier about where you are going and then one of you hands in all the id cards/passports and the money and when you get the change, you turn and distribute everything before moving out of the way. The other thing is that you get in line and then wait for others to join you so that the people behind you can wait a little longer. However, sometimes you get to the window and your pals haven’t joined you yet, so you let me go in front of you. Xie xie.
Anyway, as I was saying, there I was halfway to the window when a very attractive twenty-something young woman glides by. Sadly I didn’t get a photo, so close your eyes as you read this and imagine (how does one read with one’s eyes closed, Geoff?). She has on the mandatory 5″ stilettos, the short denim shorts, a black top which is sheer through the midriff and the obligatory black hose. She effortlessly moves to the front of the line with every male (and likely female) eye on her, steps in front of the guy at the front and buys her ticket. She then turns around, scans the crowd and gets her phone out. A minute goes by and her male partner shows up (nothing to note about him – at least I didn’t note anything beyond he was male). He gives her his id and she steps in front of the guy in the next line and buys his ticket. How does this keep happening – don’t these people know that they have somewhere to go too? Don’t they know I have to get back to Jiaxing?
But this isn’t about lining up – it is about fashion. You know how many young men wear their jeans slung low on their butts? Well this sexy, gorgeous woman is wearing these denim shorts low too – so low that the top two inches of her panty hose are showing above the waist band – complete with the reinforced vertical seam up the middle of them. In my humble opinion (I know I could just write IMHO but the elderly out there might not get it) she really crossed the line there.
Yesterday I am back at the office. I am in line to get my coffee, patiently waiting my turn. Now a couple of months ago one of my favourite baristas (we have even exchanged small gifts after traveling to far off lands) decided to let me and one other person wait so that she could make a lattte for a woman who came in after us and placed her order before getting in line to pay. Predictably, some would say, little Rita and I now have a terse, professional relationship. Yesterday the same woman came in. Now let me describe her. She visits Starbucks everyday on her way to work. She drives her Suzuki car right up to the door, rain or shine. She is quite attractive** and has very nice legs. She too wears the mandatory 5″ stilettos but she wears a dress everyday. This dress (no matter which one it is) covers her “area” with a good inch to spare. Normally she wears tights, but now it is summer and she is bare legged. I have no idea where she works, but if she came in to a bar on Friday night dressed like this, she would be the main attraction. I also have no idea how she could ever sit down without exposing type and colour of her “lingerie” . Since it appears that every day she is late for work (she is always standing there looking at her watch) and she has to have her drink made before anyone else in there – GET UP EARLIER! (And don’t pay with a credit card which takes more time). Be all that as it may, now Yoyo (barista) and I will also have a a terse, professional relationship. After all, they keep allowing her to make the other patrons wait.
But this isn’t about lining up – it’s about cleanliness. After I got my latte yesterday and was walking back to my desk, I inadvertently spilled a fair amount on the floor in a continual line from the counter, through the “lobby” and to my chair. But did anyone get a mop to wipe it up? No, in typical Chinese fashion, they just left it there for people to step in and walk through, creating a dirty floor. Come on people, keep the place clean would you!
I wrote all of the previous material while at home and I am now in the office. Yoyo is making my latte, there are three people at the counter waiting to order and pay and guess who walks in – straight to the coffee bar and orders her drink. I say to Yoyo, who looks properly chagrined after yesterday, “Why doesn’t she have to wait like everyone else?” She says “Yes, Geoff”. I watch and I see that little Miss Ina Hurry gets hers last. VICTORY is mine (at least today). But wait, as little Miss Ina Hurry gets into her car a friend walks up. How do I know they are friends? I know because they have a 5 minute conversation, despite the armoured car behind them laying on the horn and the guard getting out to yell at them! I guess she doesn’t have to get to work that quickly…
A Word of Warning
Finally, a word of warning about texting. Yesterday I texted our pal Charlie who works at Krabi and asked for a table on the window for 4. No problem. Now we have talked before about Charlie – he is the leader of the singing group and has shared with us the fact that he isn’t very happy working at Krabi. Just before our 6pm reservation I get two texts (13 LINES, (get it?)) from Charlie which indicate that he is negotiating with someone for a job elsewhere. However, these thirteen lines of text weren’t for me – they were for someone else. So be careful out there you texters!
*With thanks and apologies to The Five Man Electrical Band and their truly fabulous 1970 song. For a amusing visual interpretation (but only adequate vocal interpretation), check out this youtube.
** If I wasn’t married to and know quite a few other strikingly attractive women, I would have to surmise that all strikingly attractive women are of the opinion that the world and its inhabitants are there simply to serve them whenever they show up. But that’s not true of the women I know. Maybe its just strikingly attractive Chinese women? Or maybe it is just another couple of examples of the apparent Chinese belief that it IS all about them? Having said that, all the Chinese people we have actually met are VERY nice and don’t give off that sense. It just seems to be something we see when we are out and about.