Because it means more to do twice the work and look busy, don’t you know that?
That first morning, I got into a taxi and the driver pointed to a little sticker on the dashboard reading: Buckle Up, or Pay Up! (There is a fine of almost 250 U.S. dollars for not buckling up) He taps the sticker again with his finger then pokes me in the ribs. I look over and the driver is not wearing his seat-belt. “What’s that?” I ask the man in Chinese. “HUH?” He grunts back. I tap on the sticker and poke him back in the ribs. “You,” I say in Chinese. He taps the sticker again. “This is for passengers!”
I look at the man dumbfounded.
I get out of his taxi and go to the one behind it. He won’t let me inside. He points at the taxi in front and says, “There’s a line. You must take the one first.”
I flash him my money and ask him politely if he’s working. He shakes his head.
I go to the third taxi and he won’t let me in.
I stand on the curb watching three couples get into the taxis ahead of me then wait for the fourth cab to pull up, open the door and get inside. The driver is fiddling with the dashboard TV, the sound is so loud it’s deafening. I give him the directions, but he’s now messing with the GPS. The meter is running and he is trying to type in the address. I’m literally crossing the street with two suitcases I don’t want to carry. It takes five minutes while I’m simmering in the front seat. Finally he turns to me, apologizes for not being able to figure out the GPS, floors it, and clips a passing motorbike with the taxi grill.
Because I’m surrounded by people without common sense, don’t you know that?
Because that’s style. Style is more important that substance, don’t you know that?
Thirty paces later I have it in my hand.
Because that’s the take-out counter, and it says in the Starbucks rulebook that customers pick up their orders at the take out counter, don’t you know that?
Because that’s the rule, and you have to follow the rules no matter what, don’t you know that?
My favorite moment was this cleaning man who had managed to somehow push his little cart into the massive sardine packed crowd and laid two cones out for sweeping. People were banging into him, knocking him over, walking on his toes, pushing him aside, yet he continued to sweep up nothing. I mean, there was nothing on the floor for him to sweep but there he was, head down, just going through the motions.
Why…? Because that’s his job and he has to do it, no questions asked, don’t you know that?
Because, as the electrician pointed out to me, this keeps people from using too many home appliances at one time, don’t you know that?
They continue to do it.
Because they are the guard and they must help me no matter what, don’t you know that?
Because he’s on the job standing as a guest worker in someone’s house in the middle of the night, why not scream into his cell phone, they’re not his kids, don’t you know that?