Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beijing Subway Line 13, Monday, 7:37 a.m.

It was packed, I mean packed.

In fact for several minutes I didn't even realize there was a small kid, probably five or six years old, standing next to me. The poor little guy barely came up to my hip. It's hard enough putting up with the crowds when you're eye to eye with them but imagine being surrounded by a wall of black trench coats and you can't see over them. And with each stop the trench coats keep pressing in around you, tighter and tighter.

One very kind man offered his seat to the little boy but his mom declined, saying they were getting off soon anyway.

Eventually, the inevitable happened.

The tumor-like crowds, the thick air, it was all too much for him. The little boy told his mom he felt sick and that he was going to throw up.

Anything that came up out of that little boy's stomach was never going to hit the floor, I can tell you that for sure. We were one solid unit of Packed People on that train.

And you know how throwing up can have that viral effect on everyone? I was trying hard not to think about that.

I was focusing instead on the goodness of the man who offered his seat to the little boy. I was grateful that people do things like that. I was glad to know that if it was my son, someone would show him compassion and consideration. I was proud to call Beijing home, a place where such selfless acts are not unusual.

Goodness. Gratitude. Compassion. Consideration. Selflessness.

By meditating on these good things, I managed to keep that little boy from throwing up, at least until I got to my stop.

And I can't confirm this, but I think I sustained him until he got to his destination.


Jocelyn said...

That was nice that someone offered that boy a seat on the subway. I lived in Shanghai for many years and I can tell you that's not how it goes down South (sadly). Kudos to you for staying calm in an otherwise precarious situation. One of my friends once said that it was China that taught him the kind of patience he'd tried to learn from years of meditation. ;-)

Sin-Yaw Wang said...

My guess... Everyone, you included, heard and backed away a little bit. That gave him just enough space to not throwing up.

Mom should have accepted the offer.

Melanie Gao said...

Jocelyn, it's very common for people in Beijing to offer their seat. I think most people here are very good-hearted and sincere.

Sin-Yaw my theory - magical thinking - is so much more fun than yours. :)