Now, I’ve said my share of curses towards the lead footed (both gas and break) drivers of the over-stuffed death-traps that are China’s transit system, but man … some days it just doesn’t pay to ask for correct change…

Basically, the story goes… two dudes and their tight-panted tag-along get on a bus in Wuhan and put 5 RMB in the box. The bus driver explains that it’s 2 RMB/person, and therefore they owe another yuan. The guy, who apparently usually pays with a bus card (and gets a cheaper rate because of it, argues that it is 5 RMB for 4 people. Claiming the bus driver is trying to cheat him, he files his complaint to the back of the driver’s head with his elbow.

With no doubt wided-eyed expectation of things to come, all the passengers sit and watch, generally ignoring the driver’s pleas to call the police. One exception is a brave woman who stands up for the driver, and is quickly beaten down by buddy #2. The thugs demand the driver open the door, but the driver is too busy counting the Chinamation birdies flying around his head. After randomly pushing buttons to open the doors, the punks give the driver another beating for not opening the door. Buddha intervenes and the door opens.

The three exit the bus only to throw a couple large rocks through the window at the driver. The driver makes a snide comment about no one calling the police (he’s some nerve, eh?) and then 28 people exit the bus without so much of a “hey pal, you alright? You just got the shit kicked out of you.”

I’ve noticed more and more taxis featuring Plexiglas dividers segregating themselves from their fares. I now understand why, and wonder if they wont be fitted into buses in the near future.

Incidentally, I’ve officially crossed “Chinese bus driver” off of my list of future career options.


  1. Ohmygod! That sucks.

    I like the way the newsreader warned parents not to let their children watch it though.

    Strange, someone had an argument with the bus driver here in Sheffield on my way to work this morning, because the guy was standing in the middle of the road and the bus nearly hit him. Fortunately, no elbows or rocks were thrown, but I’m pretty sure that it would’ve been stopped long before it got to that stage.

  2. What happened to the brave woman in this episode is exactly the reason why Chinese don’t intervene when they see arguments/fights happening in front of them…they’re worried about getting attacked themselves…

    Now if we can only find a reason for them not doing anything when they see a car accident on the road…

  3. @Dezza: I think that’s the reason many people in all countries don’t get involved in such things. However, I think it goes a bit deeper than that. I think there’s a sense of “doing the right thing” and “fending for someone other than you and yours” that has been beaten out of much of the population of this country for one reason or another.

  4. Actually it is much the same in the UK. And at least these tossers have now been arrested and imprisoned. In the UK they’d get a fine and 20 hours community service 🙁

  5. Okay… so here’s a question… I’ll be starting some long-term Mandarin study in Dalian come February 07…

    Let’s say I want to help… And let’s say I do intervene in a situation like that…And let’s say I hypothetically break the guy’s face… should I be expecting some jail time and/or deportation?

    In general, what is the police attitude towards foreigners defending themselves/fending of attackers?

  6. Hey Mike, if you break the guy’s face, run like hell. I’ve never heard of police being lenient on foreigners. I doubt a bloody nose and some hurt feelings is going to land you in jail or get you deported, but it isn’t going to make you friendly to the locals.

    Basically, it comes down to a tricky balance of how does it benefit them. This in itself is an extremely complicated thing to understand as it doesn’t neccessarily go by the rules of what we consider a “benefit”. Either way, the defending/fending off thing doesn’t play into it – that requires a sense of justice or “right”, something that is very far away from any service the police provide…

    Check out “Birds of a Feather: A Laowai Warning” at my other blog, it might give you some insight on what standing up for what’s “right” brings.

  7. This attitude that everything outside my circle of friends and relative “I don’t care and it doesn’t matter to me, has probably to do,in my eyes,both with Chinese culture(guanxi) and recent history(Cultural revolution).

    China was mostly of its time split in different small countries, ruled by some kind of warlords until the bravest one did not decide to unify all those small countries(via a bloody massacre) to become again a Greater China.
    Chiang Kai Sheck was almost more concerned about his own country mens than the japanese approaching the country.
    For chinese first it comes what matters me directly,my family,relatives and friends,the outside world can go to die…
    This self centred attitude reached its zenith after the cultural revolution who add a deep sense of distrust among each other turning out in todays nobody trusteach other Dog-eat-dog society …

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