Finding Nemo

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chinese Deathcab

Suddenly my taxi swerved 4 lanes, I heard squealing tires behind me and braced for impact.  Somehow we escaped to the sound of 4 car horns saluting our bravado.  A bus, either oblivious to our presence or asserting its superior mass, swerved into our lane to avoid 3 mopeds that had decided to stop and have a conversation in the middle of an intersection.  Our cab driver deftly swerved into oncoming traffic, and I saw a large cement truck headed right at us.  It seemed to speed up, apparently a tiny Chinese hatchback would be a nice badge on its grill.  At the instant I assumed we were about to meet the Great Chairman in the Party Above, the cab driver swerved back into our lane, dodged two pedestrians and a dog, all while chatting on his cell phone.

Just another day in China.

It didn't make any sense though.  We weren't on some bombed-out strip of asphalt in Nepal or the Philippines.  This was a modern Chinese city, the boulevards were wide and lined with trees, the lanes were clean and refreshingly straight.  Modern traffic lights above gave off an image of calm and order.  It could be anywhere USA.  But our taxi driver didn't seem to realize any of this, he and every other person on the road were driving like there was a competition to see who could kill themselves fastest.

You can take a person to water but you can't make them drink.

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