Thursday, January 27, 2011

You picked the wrong dead end street to beat up your GF

I love the picture window in my living room. Right in front of the window is a dead end street and just past the street is the Olympic Park. The park has lots of lovely green foliage - it feels like an ocean that holds the city at bay, far away from us.

The other night around 9pm I was walking past the window and I saw a car parked on the dead end street. Nothing unusual there - people often park on this street and make out.

But what happened next is not common.

Two people came out of one car and started fighting. Like a fist fight. Now that I think about it, I've seen more fist fights in my 6 years in China than I've seen in my whole life. I don't know what it is about Beijing but it seems to turn people into some amateur version of Mike Tyson.

So anyway, turns out this fight was between a man and a woman. And the man was kicking her ass. Literally. He pulled her out of the car, pushed her on the ground and punched her.

He picked the wrong dead end street for this.

I yelled at my husband to call the police, which he dutifully did. But I ran out of patience when they didn't arrive within 30 seconds and besides the poor woman was really taking a beating out there. So I put my long black coat on over my pajamas and headed for the door.

Buddy stopped me mid-way and asked me what I had in mind.

That's when it occurred to me that I didn't have a plan. Those of you who know me are nodding your heads knowingly. I love you guys. And please know that if anyone is ever kicking your ass I will come to rescue. I will have no plan but at least we can get our asses kicked together.

I made up a plan quickly. I was going to stun the guy by speaking English and then kick him a few times.

Per usual, it all sounded good in my head but kind of fell apart the more I talked.

Buddy came up with a better plan - he would go down.

This was a much better plan, for many reasons:
1) He's stronger than me.
2) He speaks better Chinese than me. (Yes, I know, English was one of the key points in my battle plan but let's face it, we are in China and both the attacker and victim were presumably Chinese.)
3) He was not in his pajamas.

So he got in our car and drove over to them. He rolled down the window and asked the guy what was going on. This embarrassed the guy, who like the true coward that he is, quickly got into his car and drove off. Leaving his bruised female companion on the street. Classy.

Buddy asked the girl if she knew that guy and she said no but he owed her 5,000 RMB. This is where her story starts to fall apart. I mean, either someone is a complete stranger or they owe you money. Can't be both. Unless you're a really stupid loan shark. But this doesn't matter. Guys shouldn't beat up girls for any reason.

And definitely not on the dead end street right in front of our house.


Epilogue: The girl walked to the subway station and we never saw her again. The police showed up about 30 minutes after the whole thing was over and took some random pictures of the gravel on the street. They might as well have taken pictures of the stars for heaven's sake.


Sara said...

I really admire you and your husband that you went to save that woman. Does Chinese people usually do something if they're in the same situation? It would be interesting to know, because I think in Finland so many times people just mind their own business and don't find out if someone is being hurt.

Melanie Gao said...

hi Sara that's a really good question about what most Chinese people would do in this situation and it's a post in its own right. For now I'll say there are a lot of urban legends about good Samaritans who stop to help someone and end up getting blamed for whatever the incident was or get scammed in some other way. Based on these legends, many Beijingers today won't stop to help someone on the road who appears to be in need.

Personally I think those legends were started so that people would have an excuse to not help each other. They inspire fear in people. And so I reject them.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love yours btw! Just subscribed. :)

An said...

Ah yes, I have been told many of those urban legends by my mother. Good for you and Buddy to help that woman!

Betsy, short for Elizabeth, formally known as Esther said...

So BRAVE and admirable of you! I try to be that way, too. And I am right there with you with leading with your heart! Good for you!

Melanie Gao said...

Thanks Betsy - I'm glad to know I'm not the only one! :)

An I think we could start a whole series of posts about the urban legends we've heard in China.

Heather said...

Okay, I'll admit that Buddy did a good job. However, next time tell him that this is a job for a tough, independent, (possibly insane) American woman and go kick butt. Am I crazy or did you once stop a fight between a guy on a motorcycle and a pedestrian? I loved that story!

And I also vote that you post about these mysterious Chinese urban legends. How interesting - do tell!

Melanie Gao said...

Heather although we only met once for a few seconds over 15 years ago, you totally get me. :) And yes, I did break up a potentially deadly fight on the street one day.

I'll work on my urban legends post.

Anonymous said...

I'd say that these days Chinese people will not go out of their way to help out a person in disress; in fact, they will tend to steer clear of any sign of trouble if possible. This is because Chinese people fear becoming implicated in trouble/conflict themselves.

To an outsider, this behaviour may appear intensely callous and selfish. But if you consider it in the context of the recent Chinese history in which people have had to fight and be ever vigilant to look out for themselves and survive, it becomes understandable though still not justifiable.

Kudos to you guys for helping out the woman.

Melanie Gao said...

Anon thanks for chiming in with that input and I agree with you that in China you really have to take care of yourself. The chances that you might be implicated in a conflict are probably low but if it happens, you really could be screwed so people might think it's not worth the risk.

I was feeling risky that night though. :)

Anonymous said...

She didn't know him but he owes her 5,000 RMB. Are you thinking what I'm think? Bad news: much of the Chinese populus is not yet civilized. Good news, things are getting better, especially down south.

Joey Kirkpatrick said...

I know when I was in Stockholm, the cultural view was like this:

(1) man beating on woman - This would NEVER happen. Every woman in Sweden and maybe Norway would descend like valkyries and completely destroy him. He might survive if one of the first women "made him into a woman."

(2) woman beating up another woman - This would be pretty much ignored. If a man sided with either he would end up in situation (1) above.

(3) woman beating up on a man - Likely to gather a large group of woman to cheer the woman on to victory. The man had better just lay there and play dead. If the man so much lifts a hand or arm or deflect a blow, he will end up in situation (1) above.

Yes, I was a bit scared of the matriarchy in Sweden.

Ulyana said...

this is too sad... i'm glad you did something about it.

Melanie Gao said...

Anon, yes, I was thinking that.

Joey, Sweden sounds like a pretty good place to me!

Ulyana it really is sad, isn't it?