To pass the time during a particularly hot and sweaty subway ride, I composed the following Subway Secrets for my fellow team members who will be joining me in China in just a few days.
Jim’s Subway Secrets
- Pack light
- Always take the stairs
- You are faster and thinner than you think. You will make it through the closing doors (as long as you remembered rule 1)
- Hold on. No, seriously. Hold on.
- On subway lines that don’t typically serve tourist areas (like where I live), you will be stared at, talked about and possibly even questioned why a rich American is on a subway.
- Politely shoving your way in or out is expected. Shouting “move or get the fu@k out of my way” will be ignored
- Practice saying “please” (ching) to indicate that you would like to get by. Then promptly forget it and use rule 6.
- Never be the only foreigner seated.
- Ignore the fact that no one else places their bags in the X-ray screener when te security guard requests it. You, however, are required to.
- The reason why the crowd is moving so slowly is because EVERYONE is staring at their phones and not where they are going.
- Leave early. Know where you are going, where you are transferring, which door and which exit you will be taking before you enter the first station
- Try to make a game of all the things that you see – the old, OLD men yelling “Wei?” (hello?) into their phones Over and over and over. The girls listening to the same bad pop song over and over again – without their earbuds because the want their friends to hear it too. The men with one REALLY long fingernail (WTF? Is earwax a crisis in China?). The really aggressive a-holes that will do EVERYTHING they can to get that stupid flyer in your hand. EVERYTHING.
Bonus tip: Rules of polite society do not apply in a Shanghai subway.
Bonus Bonus: Really fun subway safety messages. Extra points if you can figure out what they mean.