Have you ever experienced being squeezed into a train (without the need to ever move yourself) by a swarm of people anxiously wanting to get themselves inside? Have you been not able to get inside a train because of the same reason? Jumping queues and being rude are an universal problem, but this issue in Mainland China and Hong Kong are incredibly fascinating and sad.
How Do Hong Kongers and Mainland Chinese Jump Queues?
Generally speaking, jumping queues in subways is not very serious in Hong Kong while it’s the opposite in Mainland China. If you go to, let’s say, Beijing or Shanghai, I bet you would see that the usually-not-so-efficient Chinese people can get themselves into a train in light speed. They would push other people around in order to create space for themselves to board the train, then all the empty seats would be occupied in 2 seconds. In China, People from all walks of life would jump queues, from commuters, housewives to little kids. If you don’t fight and push others as well, you would not be able to get into the train and left behind on the platform, feeling angry and unloved.
Hong Kongers don’t usually jump the queues, but there are still some. Weirdly, Hong Kong people don’t push others. They do it in a more sophisticated, un-noticed yet lazy way. They simply walk to the front of a queue silently, or board the train by using the path that is for passengers coming out from the train. Those rude Hong Kongers are mainly women carrying a child or creepy middle-aged men carrying a newspaper (that they can read all day, anywhere). More sadly, even though the issue is not too serious in Hong Kong, it’s now getting worse because of the increasing amount of Mainland Chinese travelers in Hong Kong.
And Their Response to Such Behavior?
For Chinese people, they simply fight back. Fighting back is a way to show their being strong and being able to protect their family (e.g. jumping the queue to get a seat for their children). Otherwise they would appear weak not just to people they don’t know but also to their children. Chinese people want to fight for the best welfare for themselves and their family and also show their power to their children so that the kids can learn, adopt and sustain this sense of power for the glory of their clan.
For Hong Kongese, they just suffer and stay silent. Extreme individualism may be the reason. To Hong Kong people, cutting queues is a bad manner, but speaking up and criticizing people’s bad manner is also a bad manner itself. What’s more, they think that fighting back might provoke further argument, plus this is “other people’s matters, not my business”. Hence they wouldn’t waste time on dealing with things not concerned them. As long as Hong Kongers can get the train ride and arrive at the destination they want, they wouldn’t say a word to people’s rude manners.
When Would They Stop Fighting for Seats?
People keep jumping queues in China while Hong Kongers don’t speak up to stop this rude manner. Ridiculous as it seems, there are still some moments where people would stop fighting seats and giving the seat away.
In China, it’s a well-known norm that no matter how much you want the seat after cutting the queues, you still need to give your seat to elderly people, pregnant women and the handicapped, especially the first category. Respecting the elderly is one of the core values in the traditional Chinese culture.
As for Hong Kong, people would generally still give their seat to elderly people, but they are relatively less willing to do it. Hong Kongers would only do it if there are public tensions that force them to (e.g. people around staring at them because they look like a cold-hearted person who doesn’t give seats to elderly). It’s always the public expectation and peer pressure that move Hong Kong people to take some certain action. Hong Kongers do things because the society tells them to, they don’t do things also because the society tells them not to.
The Future of Better Mannerisms
There is no future. There is only improvement or deterioration. The issue of jumping queues is not very serious in Hong Kong compared with Mainland China. After all, Hong Kong is a more civilized city. But the fact that Hong Kongers suffer and stay silent means there is a long way to eliminate this hideous culture.
The same issue is very prevalent in China where everyone does it day and night. Mainland Chinese are getting so used to it that there are also little rooms for improvement. Plus more and more Mainlanders are traveling to Hong Kong and spreading this rude manner around.
In either situation, the jumping queues issue can only be worse.
If Hong Kong people speak up and criticize rude people (either Hong Kong locals or Mainland travelers), there might be less jumping queues. Then if the Mainland travelers in Hong Kong learned it, adopted it and taught it to their children back home, this issue might be improved in China (considering Hong Kong culture is often widely spread in all over China). But in the end, who knows?
I would like to see what will happen in 10 years.
*Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/tamjty