Song of the Day: China Survival Guide – Rule the Queue Part 1

Posted on February 1, 2012


Hohhot: Really not so (hot). foto@me

So I live in Shanghai, and everyone who knows me knows I love it. The “Survival” guide is a crock of shit; I can’t say for other cities, but in Shanghai there’s not much surviving needed – it’s a very easy and lovely city to live in. Also, judging from the club scene every weekend most people seem more intent on partying themselves to death than surviving any trials the mother of East Asia cares to throw at them.

But still, some things continue to mystify me, and one of them is the inability of the local inhabitants of this fair city to queue up. It can be infuriating, as anyone who takes the metro at 6pm can testify. Nevertheless, give and take, what? Nothing is insurmountable with the right song blasting in your ears to egg you on. Life in Shanghai is awesome. And with my handy Rule the Queue playlist (eh, of sorts), it can be way awesomer.

The following post is inspired from an actual journal I wrote on a short trip I took in May 2011 to Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia. The scene takes place at Hongqiao Airport.


Part 1 Setting the Scene:

Gucci Mane “What’s It Gon Be”


Gucci’s exasperated tone sets the scene nicely for how I’m feeling. He’s kinda tired of the usual annoyances, life’s daily craps. He’s tiredly telling you – he’s told you so many times before – to just fuck off and leave him alone. At the same time, this baby just wants to have fun. There’s tons of girls with butt implants in shiny Spandex. Plus, it’s a hip hop video. I’m sure Gucci enjoyed himself tremendously, and it’s not like anything seriously challenging went down. He didn’t even have to emote with his eyes cos he was wearing sunglasses.

The feeling of the song is similar to mine at that moment: I’d just arrived, surveyed the scene, and was slightly annoyed at the mad crowds, but I was still looking forward to a Holi-Holiday.

…I just bought me 3 Ferraris/ If it offended you/ NOT SORRY…”

I set off to the airport late-ish, fully confident in my the-two-hours-before-check-in-is-over-rated certainty. The flight was to take off at 8.15am – I figured 7 or 7.15am would cut it.

So Hongqiao Airpot is quite nice. Spacious, new, reasonably well-polished faux marble flooring. There’s a buzz of people milling about. I find my check-in counter, and saunter off in the direction. A pair of pretty giggling girls in cotton tanks pass me.

Then I turn the corner – and it’s peoplesville. It’s a huge fucking homo sapien crush enough to make the most modest Malthus-supporter blush with pride. I couldn’t even tell which queue led to which counter. I see a bunch of counters that could possibly process my check-in, and I duck under the bunting to join (what I thought was) the shortest queue.

All around, the speakers blare nonstop – “Flight blahbityblah is taking off in ten minutes (Jesus C!!!), passengers should [basically hurry the fuck up and kill everyone in front of them in the queue to get processed].”

There are twenty million flights headed to twenty million places. I very properly stand in line, behind a German couple. Minutes pass; I try to quell a puff of rising worry that I’ll miss my flight. It’s still 7.13am, or something like that. There are like ten or so people in front of me, although you can’t really tell for sure. Still, my heart is beating faster and I can’t stop myself craning my neck to see why my queue wasn’t moving/ why all these people can’t drop dead/ why I of course once again had chosen the shortest-looking-but-slowest-moving line.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where shit starts to go down.