I’m Walkin’ Here: Consulate warns Americans to watch their step on Shanghai streets

The March edition of the Shanghai Consulate News for Americans kindly reminds its citizens not to hit cars that come to close to you, as it may lead to a “physical confrontation.”

The American Citizen Services Unit has received several reports of American citizens being injured following physical altercations with drivers of automobiles within our consular district.

Such physical altercations have sprung from the citizen tapping or otherwise making physical contact with an automobile driving across a pedestrian crosswalk very close to the US citizen. The ACS Unit urges American citizens to be cautious when walking as a pedestrian in China, as drivers in China may not follow the same driving customs as in the United States and may not yield to pedestrians. If a car does come too close as you are crossing the street, we urge you not to hit the car as this may lead to a physical confrontation.

I’m pretty certain Chinese law is just as clear as most any country’s law on this (and certainly correct me if I’m wrong) — pedestrians have the right of way — if not in the middle of a busy roadway, than certainly on cross-walks, sidewalks and the various other “no-cars-please” locations, where I’m sure these confrontations took place. I know Americans (perhaps wrongly) have a bit of an impetuous stereotype to live down, and they’re not extremely well-known for their cultural sensitivity (even the consulate says as much). Maybe the consulate realizes this, and is tired of defending themselves at State dinners. But on this one, I’ve got to say — good on the angry Americans.

In my mind cultural differences don’t really play a part. It’s not a cultural difference when some asshole nearly kneecaps you with his fender. The cultural difference isn’t that Chinese drivers don’t respect pedestrians, it’s that most pedestrians put up with it.

My advice, hit the car. Jump on the fucking hood. If you’re in the right, and you know you’re in the right, put a nice dent in that black sedan and then stare down the driver with all the hurt and accusation you can muster. Pedestrians have the right of way for a reason, meat and bone are harder to fix than paint and steel — sometimes drivers need to be reminded of this.

Oh, but only heed my advice if you’re tough, fast or both. I don’t need your black eye or broken lip on my conscience. I will happily buy you a beer and give you a pat on the back though.

1000 internets for the first comment that reminds me I’m an effing guest in this country.