WTF Shanghai?


November 1st, 2011
Location: Wagas, Xujiahui
Time: 1:29 pm

I’m feeling particularly droll today so I thought it might be time for a blog post.  It’s the perfect state of being for writing.  On the walk here a man almost hit me with his car as I was crossing the street.  I stopped and just stared him down. I just stopped right in front of his car and didn’t move for a good five seconds.  Then, I accidentally dropped my phone on a woman’s foot.  I apologized but she gave me that stony stare women in this city have perfected so well.  God forbid anyone actually bumps you in this city of how many millions?  I didn’t retract my apology but I fixed her with a look right back and asked whether her injury was critical?  Did it kill you, lady?  Does your foot need to be amputated? I didn’t receive a reply.

One of those days. 

I think I’m too tired to get really angry or fired up about anything but I’ve got some things I’ve been ruminating on for a while and now is as good as ever to put them to paper.

This is kind-of a bewildered rants and rave blog (except I’m writing void of any passion or emotion, so not really a rant and rave at all) that could be summed up as follows: WTF Shanghai?

First off, what’s with the blatant refusal to turn on your headlights at night?  Are you trying to conserve electricity? A confused attempt at a green initiative?  Nope. Doubt that.  Simply don’t know how to turn them on?  Very real possibility.  Total lack of self-awareness?  Ding-ding.  I think we have a winner.


Dudes who hang out at on the steps of the metro.  Don’t get it.  I know that little towns develop odd hang-outs.  Walmart seemed to be the place at a small town in Idaho I once visited.  Liquor stores, mini marts, bowling allies.  Whatever.  Little towns, not much to do, you work with what you’ve got.  But this is Shanghai.  There’s not a legal drinking age (that I know of, or is enforced at any rate).   Bars and restaurants are open until the wee hours of the night.  All Days, Lawsons, Kedi Mart – all 24 hours.  But the entrance to the metro?  Here are my theories: you’re hoping that some cute girl will fall down the slippery stairs and you can be the hero to help her.  Oh, wait.  That’s probably not it.  Let’s not forget about little Yueyue

Theory two: you need a busy place to show-off your hair. The metro is your proverbial soap box, if you will.  It took 45 minutes to get your hair looking that fly and you want the world to see it.  This theory has potential. 


Theory three:  Much like me, you have absolutely no idea why you are hanging out on the steps of Shanghai Circus World.  Your ipad/iphone/game boy has died and you are at a complete loss of what to do with your life.  You know where I never see these boys hanging out?  The entrance to a library.

Street sweepers.   Basically the bottom ranks of the social class.  Paid next to nothing for thankless, dirty work.  By all worldly standards they should be miserable, nasty cretins. Nicest people EVER.  A couple weeks ago I was struggling to get some cumbersome packages down the street.  My local street sweeper saw me across the street, set down her stuff, took my heaviest box and insisted on carrying it all the way to my door.  When I tried to pay her she literally ran away.  And back to Yueyue.  Who helped?  Oh, that’s right – the ayi.

But being nice doesn’t always mean logical.  Tell me this Shanghai – why do you insist on doing activities in the middle of the day that just get in the way?  Let’s stock these shelves.  After the store has closed?  But why would we do that?  The store is closed and everyone has gone home.  No.  Let’s refill all of our product at 6 o’clock on Friday night – our peak shopping time.  And those stairs look dirty.  Let’s "clean"  them on a rainy day right before rush hour traffic.  That way, we not only get in the way of all the people trying to go home en masse, but their millions of feet can spread the filth and mud throughout the entire station. Brilliant plan, Stan.

So, there it is.  A short-list of things that I question almost every day living in this city.  I’ve lived here for 438 days excepting vacations, and I have a feeling that in another 438 days there will be only more ponderables to add to this list without any answers.  Although, I think there will be bigger questions to answer if in another 438 days I’m still here. But let’s shelve all the metaphysical questions for April.  

Dead babies at Decathalon.  NBD.