That awkward moment where I’m trying to squeeze my way off a crowded minibus, I reach for the back of a seat to steady myself, accidentally grab a Chinese Auntie’s head.
For your average westerner, there’s always that slight bit of nervousness that comes when it comes to riding a minibus in Hong Kong. The routes are less likely to be on main streets, you have to ask the driver to stop where you need, and there’s a whole list of ways you can and must use to get to your stop, and you have to say it in Cantonese.
On top of that, getting off the minibus at your stop often becomes a true test of quick thinking, agility, flexibility, and speed. When the minibus is full, stuff in people’s arms are overflowing into the aisles, the bus driver is itching to hustle down the street ASAP, and you’ve got the window seat in the last row, you need to duck, dive, twist and dash your way to the door and off the bus before the people outside start rushing on-board.
Naturally, this sometimes makes for awkward moments, like the other day. I struggled to get out of of my window seat, past the lady with bags on her lap that gave me like two inches to crawl past her. As I stumbled, I reached out to grab a handle or the back of the seat, but I missed judged my reach. Instead, I accidentally grabbed an older, local Hong Kong lady by the head.
It took a split second to realize that I had grabbed something hairy, instead of the shiny metal handle on the back of a seat, but that split second seemed like an eternity of horror. I let go immediately, ran out of the bus in complete embarrassment, and (while I already knew apologies would mean nothing, that lady was most definitely going to curse my whole family in Cantonese) I apologized profusely with a staccato and continuous string of “sorry sorry so sorry” the whole way up the aisle and out the bus.
I couldn’t help, but think that day that, even though completely by accident, I probably completely reinforced all that lady’s negative impression of westerners in Hong Kong. Maybe next time I’ll take a cab. 😉
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