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
  1. Pack light
  2. Always take the stairs
  3. You are faster and thinner than you think. You will make it through the closing doors (as long as you remembered rule 1)
  4. Hold on. No, seriously. Hold on.
  5. 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.
  6. Politely shoving your way in or out is expected. Shouting “move or get the fu@k out of my way” will be ignored
  7. Practice saying “please” (ching) to indicate that you would like to get by. Then promptly forget it and use rule 6.
  8. Never be the only foreigner seated.
  9. 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.
  10. The reason why the crowd is moving so slowly is because EVERYONE is staring at their phones and not where they are going.
  11. 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
  12. 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.