June 08, 2009

Subway Saviour

As is the custom in overpopulated nations, mass transit users get on board vehicles before other passengers have a chance to disembark. Usually the members of the opposing groups collide, push, shove, slip, squeak, and slither until each side is where they want to be. One day on the Beijing subway, a peasant girl was left behind in this transition. The rest of her family had made their way onto the train successfully, but the little girl was still on the platform.

As the warning bell sounded and the subway doors started to close from each side, the parents suddenly realized that she had been left behind. The mother started screaming, while the father attempted to retrieve the daughter. The doors were sliding shut quickly and the father could not reach his daughter from inside the train. When there seemed to be little hope for salvation, my heroic instinct kicked in. Just as the authorities had blocked my website, I blocked the door. While I prevented one side from closing, the mother held the other door at bay. This gave the father just enough time to leap onto the platform, scoop up the bewildered child, and hop back on board moments before the doors closed and the train started moving.

With the crisis averted I returned to gazing at my reflection in the subway windows. Meanwhile, the mother had lost her temper. Her hysterical rage was directed at the father, who had forgotten to make sure the daughter was with them when they were aboard the train. The father looked around sheepishly as his wife screamed and screeched. The little girl wailed for a good five minutes, wiped her eyes, and promptly stomped on her father's foot. Noticing the new scuff mark on his shoe, the father delivered a soft but swift kick to his daughter's rear. She immediately started crying again, which led to further scolding of the father by the mother.

Soon my stop arrived. As the shrieking and crying continued in the background, I enjoyed a nice game of Chinese bowling as I got off the train. This is a traditional game where the people who are trying to get on the train and the people who have no intention of getting off the train but are still blocking the doorway act as human pins, while whoever is trying to get out is the ball.


"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world."
- Rebecca Harding Davis