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Monday, February 8, 2016

Warning: Chinese People Don't Wait on Lines

One interesting observation about Chinese people is that they don't seem to believe in waiting on line. It is always a race to the front unless waiting is strictly enforced. For example, take New York City's Grand Street and Canal Street train stations both located in the heart of New York City's Chinatown. These stations are always filled with Chinese people. During anytime of the day, if you find yourself on one of these platforms, you must brace yourself as the train pulls in to the station because it is complete chaos once the train doors separate.

Some Chinese people have gotten the science of "Being First" to the tee. It all starts with the art of "boxing out" once the train becomes visible. Basically, everyone will start to inch closer and closer to the edge of the platform and elbows will start to "outline" personal territories in front of the doors. Even if you are fortunate enough to be standing exactly in front of the doors, it won't matter because within seconds some middle-aged Chinese lady with 50 red bags of groceries (a sure sign of the Chinese, remember red is lucky) will miraculously find a spot in front of you, ignoring your presence and the fact that you were there first. The funny thing is I don't think she feels she has done anything wrong and maybe she is just so focused that she can not even see me.

When the doors finally pull open, it is utter chaos. The mob will start to rush in even though passengers are trying to get out. It is so severe that I have witnessed more than a few instances where people were not able to get off until the next stop thus having to take another train backwards! For those successful in rushing in first, it all becomes a game of musical chairs, but instead of say 5 chairs for 6 players, there is usually 1 seat left and 20 people wanting to play. You can only imagine what's going to happen.

So next time you find yourself on Grand or Canal Street -- tired and hoping for a seat-- Get those elbows ready and GOOD LUCK!

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