Then stun them with your craziness. I decided this will be my new motto in life.
The other day I was waiting to turn left at a red light when I noticed some commotion on the sidewalk to my right. Apparently two high school boys, about 15 or 16 years old, were walking on the sidewalk and one of them somehow caused a guy to fall off his scooter. I don't know if it was intentional or not but my guess is that it was not.
The scooter guy was in his mid-40s, short and stocky. And he was mad. He had fallen on his face and his upper lip was bleeding a bit.
He started pushing the high school kid around and the kid pushed back.
This kind of road rage is very typical after an accident in Beijing. Usually the two parties lunge at each other and their friends or family restrain them, harsh words are exchanged, and then they calm down and go about the business of negotiating responsibility for the accident.
But this squabble was to be different.
Scooter Guy reeled back and punched High School Kid hard in the nose. His glasses went flying and his nose started bleeding profusely.
I realized this fight might be getting out of hand.
Scooter Guy shoved High School Kid, who fell backwards. Then he straddled High School Kid and started choking him.
I decided it was definitely out of hand and I should do something.
I quickly checked the three lanes to my right and thank goodness, no cars were approaching. So I pulled my car out of the turning lane and navigated my Honda Odyssey so I was perpendicular across the three lanes. If this sounds awkward, well ... it was, but fortunately it put me just about 10 feet away from the dueling couple on the sidewalk. I rolled down my window and it was at this moment I realized -
I had no idea what I was going to say. I needed to mediate a heated fight ... in Mandarin ...
Here's what I came up with after .75 seconds of contemplation -
"Do you need me to call ... 102?"
They both gave me this stunned look. I glared back at them, cell phone in hand, trying to look like I was crazy enough to call the police if needed.
And I probably did look plenty crazy right then, considering that the number for the police is 120, not 102.
Misguided as it might have been, my threat had the desired effect. They stopped fighting. I'm not sure if it was because:
a) they didn't want me to call the police.
b) they had no idea what I was saying but they figured a crazy foreign woman was more of a threat to them than they were to each other.
c) it gave them a chance to pause and realize they were over-reacting.
d) something else.
Anyway they stood up and Scooter Guy gave a tissue to High School Kid. Then they found his glasses hanging in the branches of a nearby bush.
Scooter Guy got on his bike and drove away. High School Kid started walking again. I pulled myself into the right direction in traffic.
And we will all live to fight another day.