Lessons in Line Breaking
I had made a decision and I was going to act on it. Gone were the days of standing passively in line while Chinese people wedge themselves in front of me and place an order before I could react. I was going stand up for myself and try to be a little more Chinese.
This is not the kind of thing you can plan – it just has to happen and just last night, I had my chance. We were in the
So there I was, with this foreign and unfamiliar machine staring me in the face. It was mine, yes, but I realized all too quickly that I had no idea how to use it. The instructions were in English and the #1 read “Select Fare”. Scratching my head with waves of embarrassment pending, I searched the machine for anything that said “Fare”. Nothing. I inquisitively pressed a couple of random buttons in the hopes that something would happen. Nothing. My pride was on the line here and I was blowing it! Thoughts of fleeing in shame entered my mind when I heard a voice over my shoulder, “Where do you need to go?” It was the line breaker politely asking a simple question that I couldn’t answer completely. All we knew was that we needed to go two stops on Line 2. He ended up doing the whole transaction for me and after many “thank yous” I left with our subway cards in hand and my pride more than a little crushed.
The moral here is that if you’re going to try to act like a local, be prepared for the entire event. Going off half-cocked is a good way to shoot yourself in the foot.