Sunday, July 20, 2014

Man v. Bus

Now that I have plenty of time on my hands I like to saddle up – ride my bike. It is too hot to ride far but I can take short excursions. I came up with a plan: what is there to see within a 10km radius of the school? Turns out, quite a bit! I'll be posting a pictorial entry soon. In the meantime, let me tell you about the time I saw a man wrangle with a bus.

I came upon the scene from behind the bus, which was stopped on a side street about 30 yards from the traffic light to the main avenue. Vehicles stopping in the middle of the road is commonplace here so I just swerved around it. That's when I heard the shouts. I looked around and saw a man wearing discreet jewelry to complement his business casual attire and carrying a murse (man's purse)  standing in front of the bus. He was screaming at the top of his lungs while gesticulating wildly. 

I'm not sure what that poor bus driver did to so incite this man's ire. However, it being perfectly acceptable to gawk at such doings I felt a riding break was in order. Dismounting near a low wall, I sat to enjoy the spectacle. I was not alone: there were plenty of lookie-lous.

The driver revved his engine. The aggrieved man leaned into the bus, his shoulder now pressed against the windshield. He yelled some more. The bus driver inched forward. The shouter braced his feet, not giving quarter. The driver relented. The man strenghtened his stance and resumed his wild gestures.

“Well!” I thought. “This could  get interesting.”

The driver set his emergency brake but did not shut of the engine.  He picked up his phone and dialed. His opponent encouraged him to call the police (I caught that much of the exchange). By now the crowd has grown, but most of the spectators were on the other side of the street so I still had an unobstructed view.

From there it was all just a bunch of shouting from the street, resignation from the driver and laughter and pointing from the gawkers. I was not laughing. I was thinking about writing this entry.

The police showed up a few minutes later. One officer dealt with the offended party and the other took down the driver's information. They were then advised to repair to the station which, ironically enough was directly across the street from where I sat. The officers did not escort the combatants. They had to drive their car around the block to get back to the station.  

I say 'ironically' because of the wait for the police to come and the fact that they rolled up in a car. Why did they not just walk outside the station and approach the men? And, there was a disturbing factor, too. Usually, peace officers do not carry weapons. However, with the growing social unrest more police are being trained to use handguns. These days a gun-toting officer is paired with an unarmed colleague. That was the first time I've seen a police officer carry in China.

The rest was rather anti-climatic. The audience hung around, comparing notes and commenting on the event. The bus stayed where it was at: in the left-turn lane, about 30 yards from the stoplight. All other traffic, including other buses and dump trucks had to steer around it.

I saddled up and rode away.    

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