Friday, March 18, 2011

An unexpected discovery at Central MTR

Tai Tam Reservoir
As usual, I took the MTR home from Central today. I saw something quite odd, that I've seen many times before yet never realised.

Every night during rush hour, there's a scrum of people trying to get to the platforms via the gates opposite Mrs Field's Cookies. It's ten or twenty deep with people jostling, struggling when their Octopus cards don't swipe, or just getting in the way because that's the national sport. Every night I join this shoving mass of people and then blunder down to the platform to take my train home. It's taken so seriously that the MTR Corporation find their tallest employee and make him stand next to the mob, looking bored, as this clump of people fail to go anywhere quickly.

Except tonight, when I went round the side of Mrs Field's Cookies and down the escalator opposite the heaving mass. Down an empty escalator, through a concourse with hardly another person there, and through the gates to the train, no shoving required.

I was gobsmacked, partly that it's taken me almost a year to discover this, and partly because nobody else seems capable of recognising that by turning through 180 degrees, they'd make their lives much less uncomfortable for a few minutes of the day, and catch an earlier train home.

Perhaps there's a heavily defeatist strain to everyone's mindset, and they assume that every route to the trains will be equally crowded. I don't think it's because of a difference in distance, but as I'd need to borrow a pedometer to measure it, you can assume the differences are negligible.

Perhaps the MTR employees should point out to people the other, more convenient route, but that would involve talking, and the MTR seems staffed by people doing everything in their way to not talk to anyone. (I was in the station yesterday and there was a man yelling about nothing, over and over for fifteen minutes while the staff studiously ignored him. Maybe the gweilo power has short circuited and they won't talk to anyone.) Plus given the argumentative nature of people in Hong Kong, they might feel having a strip torn off them by an enraged commuter who knows-bloody-well-which-entrance-he-wants-to-go-through isn't worth the candle.1

So either everyone is unobservant, thoughtless, bloody-minded, unhelpful or never bothers to stop and look around once in a while. That's right, we should have paid more attention to Ferris Bueller.

Of course, it will serve me right if in the future everyone takes my new route and blocks the gates for me, but then I guess I'll sneak down through the gates opposite Mrs Fields instead. Everyone's a winner!

1 Not sure if that relates to every misinformed person in Hong Kong buying as much table salt as they can lay their hands on, partly because they're worried about Fukushima, but also because the government told them not to, so they think they should. I'm just saying people here don't always believe others have their best interests at heart.


Minnie Bus said...

What is this "MTR" you speak of? I'm going to ask my chauffeurs. Maybe they'll know...

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