What Really Grinds My Gears

For a country and a culture that is thousands upon thousands of years old you would think that they would have developed one of the worlds most sophisticated societies and set of social etiquette that would be unmatched by any other civilization. Well you could have not been more wrong. Some people might think that I am rude or impolite, but compared to the Chinese I am the freaking king of manners.

The Chinese lack the social graces that westerners have come to accept as standard. After being here for almost a year there are three main things that I have noticed. The Chinese spit everywhere, they litter and that they are very impatient.

Spitting: My parents always yelled at me saying that it was disgusting when I spat, but I never really understood why. After living in China for the past 10 months I finally understand why. There are two bad things about spitting. First is the sound, the build up to the actual spit, which is in fact the most disgusting part of spitting and second is the fact the Chinese spit everywhere so you always end up stepping in it. In China, spitting isn’t seen as inappropriate, everyone does it. It’s mostly the older crowd, not the younger generation who spits. So it is not uncommon to see an old woman lean over and hock a loogie.

Littering: I have never seen a country that is as physically dirty as China is. Everybody litters. Just walking down the street you see it all over the place. Everything from empty soda bottles, to take-out containers, to pieces of furniture, to diapers. Anything you think you might find in the streets, you can find here. It is very hard to find trashcans, there might be a basket here or there or just a trash pile might developed. So even if you do want to throw something away it’s easier to throw it on the ground than it is to put it in a trash can.

Impatience: This is probably the rudest thing that goes on here. No body waits there turn. They all jump in front of each other to be in the front. In the States, we know that when you wait to get on an elevator or the Metro we wait for people to get off before we get on. Well not here in China. As soon as the doors open people push their way in before people have a chance to get out. In Beijing they have had to make signs to show people that they need to get out of the way so others can get off. In class students jump in front of each other while in line and no one says a word in opposition.

While many of these behaviors might seem extremely rude lets not be quick to judge. I am guest in this country, I am here to observe and appreciate, not to criticize. Who am I to tell them that their way of life is wrong? Although it is disgusting I do like being able to spit wherever I like, so it ain’t all bad.


About JoelS

Spending a year teaching English and saving the world in China
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