The ugly side of the Shanghai Expo
Visiting the Shanghai Universal Expo was supposed to be a fun experience. The theme Better City, Better Life was meant to be a prelude to an exhibition of human civilization, societal progress and technological achievements.
There was indeed progresses, as anyone who has lived in China for the last few years can attest to. However, the bad root (the Chinese term to mean bad character, bad behavior and bad habit) is hard to pull, and stubbornly penetrate every corner of our life, even in an expo that is meant to be a show-off window to the world.
Even though it is gradually starting to fade into history now, but jumping the queue was a national sport for such a long time that it became second element in people subconscious mind. A lot of people would turn their head around, one, two, three… no one seems to be watching, they would break in on the fiddle.
The first pavilion that we visited in the morning was the Norway pavilion. We had been waiting in line for almost 50 minutes by then, and suddenly, a family of 5 broke in, right in front of us. A couple of old persons, in their early 60s, a couple of young people, in their early 30s, and a boy of roughly 10 years old. That’s a very typical family structure in China since the one-child policy went into effect. We told them that the end of the line is around the corner, at the back of the pavilion, and they should go there just like everyone else.
The whole family, except the little boy, started to scream and yell, saying that this was none of my business. Initially, I was just amused. I was barely able to comprehend what they were talking about, given their accent. A group of young ladies behind us were annoyed too, one of them said to the family: “You are in the wrong, just duck and shut up, and pretend that no one saw you do it.” The whole family started to scream and yell at the young ladies too, telling them that was none of their business either.
Another young lady said: “Of course this is our business. You jumped the queue in front of us.” She turned around to the people behind her, and said: “We sternly condemn jumping the queue. What do you people say?” Everyone replied “yeah” in unison. Everyone was having a good laugh, while the family was still yelling in their dialect that probably none of us understood much about.
The old man said: “You young people should yield to us old people.” My mom was with us, so I said: “My mom is almost 70 now, certainly older than you. What do you say about yielding?” A lady with a kid behind us shouted: “You old people should be a model to the youth, especially to your own children and grand-children. Look at them, they behave just like you.” And the family kept on yelling things that we didn’t understand.
People in front of and behind us have all turned around to look at this ludicrous scene. Some of them were telling them to shut up. The old man would never give up, and self-righteously declared: “It is not illegal to jump the queue. We did it, so what? That’s none of your business.” I replied: “No, it’s not. It just made you look like a jerk.”
His son jumped at my response: “You dare say that again, and I’ll beat you up.”
I stood straight, and said: “Watch me: you too, are a jerk.” while staring right into his eyes. After ten seconds of staring at him, he backed down, probably after calculating his odds of winning if he was to make a move.
Everyone kept on telling them to shut up, as they were a disgrace to Chinese people. They started to calm up, probably realizing that they would not gain any benefit by brawling with everyone else.
Security guards were posted at some busy pavilions. Unfortunately, there was no security guard at the Norway pavilion. At some places, it was an amazing scene to see security guards drag the queue jumpers and throw them out. A human comedy in which you didn’t know whether to laugh or to weep.
Trashes were conveniently thrown on the ground, or piled up on the benches, even though garbage cans can easily be located at every fifty meters or so. The poor clean-up workers just could never catch up with the daily average of 300,000 visitors, who were happily making a mess at every corner.
Pity to my good camera, which had been assigned a dirty job to take the ugly pictures of people trashing the expo site. What a shame!