05 August 2010

Would you respect my impatience?

Ever wonder why Hongkies are always in such a hurry? One of the reasons I discovered is that we have to queue for everything in our lives, e.g. food, buses, school places and even my H&M headpiece. So many people are competing for so few resources. So much time is spent on waiting. We can’t help rushing in order to compensate for the time lost.

As a typical impatient Hongkie, my life is filled with irritating moments every day. For example, when I finally get to the cashier after waiting for ages, the shop attendants always find ways to push me to the edge.

“Do you have a Buy-our-overpriced-items-then-get-one-cent-refund Card?”

“Do you want to redeem your Octopus Reward$ because we feel bad about selling your data?”

“Would you like a bar of this tasteless chocolate? It contains 1200g of sugar but only costs $12!”

“Why don’t you buy this mango shampoo too? It goes well with vanilla foot cream.”

When I keep rolling my eyes and uttering ‘no’, ‘nope’ and ‘no ah’, they show no signs of disappointment or any awareness of my grumpiness. It’s all programmed in their body. By the time they release the garlic bulb I’m buying, my pasta is already overcooked and I no longer want to eat. Just wonder if they are this fluent and persistent with expats.

Same thing happens when I go to the cinema. Though the official filming time is 7:30pm, the film actually starts at 7:45pm as they need to replay FANCL commercials for the thousandth time (lucky to those who don’t watch romantic chick flicks). I finally decided not to buy their products as I noticed the dry skin of the models on the big screen.

In case you don’t know, I’m a fast walker. I cram a lot of activities (manicure, workout, shopping, getting a haircut…) into my lunch break as an escape from my daily prison. Therefore, I always need to rush around noon. You know what irritates me most? It’s a group of three people walking adjacent to one another, blocking Central’s infamously narrow pedestrian way. Most of them are OLs like me, and they loathe office life as much as I do. They try to delay work by walking lazily, chatting about interesting topics like what models of LV bags they are going to buy in their next Europe trip or which salon works best on flattening their tummies without any hard work on their own. They are so in the moment that they couldn’t notice I am fuming behind their hair.

That’s why I grew addicted to online shopping. No queuing, no mechanical selling, no Octopus Reward$ and no one is in my way. I’m so tempted to buy pirated DVDs there except I want to pay Christopher Nolan for real.


  1. I never understand the need to rush in Hong Kong, things are quite efficient here and if there ever is a queue then you never need to wait long. My dad says that the reason people rush is so they can get back home in time to watch the Hong Kong soaps.

    Hong Kong people are just spoilt for speed and efficiency. Go to England and order some fast food, you'll see the difference.

  2. That I agree.

    But again getting ahead of everyone to the point that nobody is in front of you feels so damn good! You feel there's an infinite world in front of you...

  3. If everybody's in such a hurry why do they walk so damn slow?!!

  4. Mentally in a hurry, but in reality slow motion.

  5. I don't mind eating my appetizer for an hour in Europe because I don't need to work long hours there and don't need to queue for everything.

    Yes, I also rush after work so that I have more time to slow down, in bath and in bed. Don't fancy soaps but catching up with animal documentaries is my favorite activity.

  6. Yeah what is it with slow moving people? Some people move fast, but like a headless chicken with complete disregard for the shortest distance between two points - Many times I've had to avoid people who can't seem to steer themselves, or hurry while texting or playing PSP ...

    WTF? Shit, I'm so angry, gotta stop reading this blog, thanks a bunch Bambi.

  7. I don't really think people are walking slow in Hong Kong. They are probably one of the fastest ones in the world, if not the fastest. You might feel slow just because it's too crowded. People are really slow here in Houston!


  8. Aiya, don't quit this blog or Henry will fire me!

    Nothing wrong with slow people. The point is, if it's a narrow path, should people have the courtesy to stand by one side so that fast people can move? I guess the same applies to escalators.

  9. William, the fact that the fattest city in the US might move slower than HK is hardly evidence that HK is one of the fastest cities in the world. Both Houston and HK are certainly slower than Denver or Boulder, where I came from (two cities very different from that Texan hellhole you inhabit). My Indian students constantly complain about how slow everyone walks here, and I'm thinking that where they come from it might be pretty crowded as well. In fact, every expat I know complains about the same thing. So if it's one of the fastest, it is certainly weird that everyone who moves here from somewhere else complains about how slow everyone walks. It's not really about the crowds, it's about the milling around, looking up and down, basically in any direction but where you're going. That's what makes people move so frustratingly slow.

  10. If you think Hong Kong people are impatient, come to the Motherland, and experience queuing up here, especially at train stations, where thousands of people will pump the queue, or they queue up right behind you, leaving no personal space at all!! (I literally had to use my hands to cover my behind, in order to protect my rectal virginity!!)

    Also, try getting off the Metro (or a lift) with a baby pushchair, when the thousands getting on will all rush in, without letting you get off first!!!

    However, apart from these situations, Mainlanders appear to be more relaxed and not in a hurry at all!! They only seem to fight for positions when they are taking transportation to get somewhere. Perhaps it's instilled in their genes, because those who did not fight to get out first, would have been stuck and be a) killed by the Japanese, or b) have everything taken from them by the Communists.

    That's why there's a famous saying "Jap Shu Haang Tou, Chaam Gwo Bai Ga", which literally means "Failing to get ahead is worse than losing the whole family fortune".

    Most Kongies are 2nd / 3rd generation of people who escaped the Mainland, and I know for a fact that some parents still instill this idea to their kids. (You see this when they tell kids to grab seats on the Metro).

  11. Actually I think Hong Kong is now more like the mainland and the mainland becomes more like Hong Kong. The Metro situation happens on MTR too. On the other hand, when I went on a Guangzhou train a few months ago, people there queued nicely. That surprised me.

    Guess that impatience is just universal.

  12. Unoccupied seating on the MTR is prime real estate, gotta get those seats before the old grannies grab them.

    If you want to chat with your friends, just do it in the middle of a busy walkway, doesn't matter that people need to get past, ignore those selfish people, your conversation is more important.

    When driving, and you see 200 metres ahead that the lights just turned red, don't take your foot off the accelerator, floor that bitch, and slam those brakes hard when you get there because it will still be red.

    No seats left on the minibus? stand around, you never know, a seat may magically appear! If not, just curse under your breath as you exit.

    Busy lunch hour at McDonalds? When its your turn to order, make sure you spend half an hour deciding which free hello kitty toy to get with your kids meal. Doesn't matter that other people are waiting, it sucks to choose the wrong hello kitty.

  13. what piss me off are the people who keep there head down when they walk and only look up at the last second And when they do they look as if it's your focking fault or an expression like some kind of magical genie that just appeared in front of them. Or the head bobbing as the only way I can describe it well ahead of the up-and-down as they walk so they're switching from higher self-esteem low self-esteem high self-esteem you get what I mean.

  14. zombiehellmonkey,

    i laughed at the minibus one. that's what i do at minibus - stand around and hope for a magical seat.

    the anon who writes without commas,

    i admit that i'm not consistent with my head movement when walking. in central's commerical district, my head is up and i look people in the face, especially those gentlemen who open the door for me.

    in other areas, i don't look at people sometimes. when i try to look, chances are i either get stares longer than i want or i get followed. many people here think you're up to something evil if you look at them.

    wonder if it's also gender-based? guys are wired to look and ladies are to be looked at?

  15. @ Mr. 'focking' Anonymous, what you describe as head bobbing walk, sounds like 'grazing' - a common phenomenon in Hong Kong, head bobs up to survey an apartment for sale, and then head bobs back down to calculate the potential earnings from flipping the property on the market.

    @ Bambi, so you're the stupid bitch that held the minibus up the other day. Time is money bitch, first rule of living in HK.

  16. The ultimate expression of HK impatience - the elevator door close button. Without fail every HKer upon entering an elevator will push the door close button. They must live with a debilitating fear that without their intervention, an elevator door may not close and they will find themselves hopelessly trapped in an elevator cabin with the doors stuck open.


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