Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Official Car of Injustice

One question the Chinese government neglected to include on the driver's examination study guide was:

If a Black Audi pulls a bonehead, life threatening move on the road, should you:
1. Honk loudly
2. Call the police and report it
3. Force the driver off the road and yell at him
4. Nothing. It's a Black Audi.

The correct answer is #4. Perhaps wrapped into the price of the car is a get out of jail and traffic violations free card for Audi drivers. We're not sure, but whatever it is, people driving Black Audis seem to feel they own the roads and are entitled to constant right of way. You shouldn't cross a Black Audi. It is the official car of injustice in China.

I found this out the hard way tonight. My friend and I were walking our five kids to a nearby restaurant. A car was pulling up onto the sidewalk where we were. Once he cleared a concrete telephone pole, he sped ahead, coming dangerously close to the kids and me. Close enough that it was no effort for me to reach out and smack my hand against the car to demonstrate our closeness and my frustration.

At first it seemed nothing would happen, but soon he slowed down and got out of his car. He unfortunately happened to be one of the few Chinese men who can tower over me. In fact he was quite large. And quite angry. He began to come toward me quickly, and immediately two nearby men grabbed both his arms and held him back while he stood about a foot and a half from me and yelled in my face. At the same time, his wife came and stood to my left, yelling at me. I told them they were not being careful of the children, but it was obvious that no amount of reasoning on my part was going to make them suddenly feel remorseful and apologetic.

Normally situations like that completely unsettle me. But when I realized there was nothing I could do, I became very calm and just walked away (with my friend, who was wisely herding the kids away from the angry Chinese man). I expected my heart to be racing and my body to be shaking, but I was fine. Very weird.

When I told Erik the story in the restaurant, he said, "Was it a Black Audi?" I didn't realize until that moment that it was. No wonder he was furious - how dare a puny little foreigner call him on something? He's untouchable! Next time I'll check what kind of car it is before I call people on their crazy driving.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Good for you. I had a very similar experience in Shanghai. There is no winning that argument, for sure.