Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where Do I Begin?

I had one of those a-ha moments today when I was pushing my way onto and off subway cars. With apologies to Ali McGraw, living in China means never having to say you're sorry. It's just not done. I think part of the reason is that no one really takes offense if your bag is digging into someone's ribs, or if you bump into another person's elbow as you try to keep your balance.

I've noticed that Americans who visit me tend to walk around murmuring, "sorry, sorry," as they are bumped and shoved through crowds. I don't do that anymore.

And yes, it means that I'll almost certainly run into problems when I'm home again. I remember I once brushed past a guy standing on the escalator into the Metro in D.C. and the guy followed me into the station yelling that I had touched his arm. Here, if you reacted every time you had someone breathing on your neck or leaning on your arm, you wouldn't last long.

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