Rant Of The Week: The Shanghai Metro
Rant of the week is a biweekly column where we pick one aspect of Shanghai life and gripe about it like an opinion columnist crossed with a homeless man with a shopping cart. It's not because we hate it here; our cavetching is purely recreational (who wants to read "ten good eggs you'll meet in Shanghai?"). Hopefully it'll stroke your 'bitch boner' and perhaps illuminate some pet peeves that we all experience but feel it non-kosher to talk about for fear of sounding bitter or culturally insensitive.
Let us preface this by saying we love the Shanghai metro. It's clean, efficient, has barriers to prevent the crazies from pushing you on the tracks, and has been updated this century unlike its New York counterpart. They roll out so many new stations every year that the map's beginning to resemble a Jackson Pollock painting. But every metro system has it downsides, and Shanghai is no exception.
You constantly see acts of kindness on the New York subway. An old or pregnant lady boards the metro and everyone from Mariachi players to Rikers Island prison escapees will offer them their seat. Same goes for helping people carry stuff up/down the stairs. Here not so much. Yeah, you get the odd good samaritan; but then there's that Joshua Wong-looking 20-something who hasn't looked up from his iPhone since he woke up. It doesn't matter if a ninety-year-old woman who's nine-months pregnant hobbles on the train. The baby could reach out of the womb and punch him in the forehead; he's not gonna budge from his game of Candy Crush. Our inner 50s dad wants to smash his face through the window and use the subway corridor like a prosciutto slicer to grate his faces, but alas....
If you have the misfortune of passing the Yuyuan Garden metro station en route to work, you've encountered the subway flyer flingers. These guys are professional douchewaffles. Instead of passing out the subway maps like normal people, they either make it rain on the metro or go down the length of the car flicking them at people like Gambit with exploding playing cards. Because what's better than getting hit in the eye with the corner of a subway map while trying to catch some post-all-nighter zzzs before work. We'll give these guys some leeway as it's no mean feat passing out maps to every passenger before the train arrives at the next stop.
Would it kill passengers to heed the clearly marked arrows designating that passengers enter the metro from the sides so those departing the carriage can get off first? No, they have to bum-rush the train like Wildlings boarding the last lifeboat out of Hard Home. Note: this behavior worsens the closer you get to the outskirts.
Guanglan Road/Yishan Road "Terminuses"
Forgetting to transfer at Line 2's Guanglan Road station is almost a rite of passage for Shanghai Expats. I've missed out on whole careers because I forgot to do so while returning from the airport, and ended up getting ping-ponged between the Guanglan and Pudong Airport stations for hours like my life was stuck on auto loop. Speaking of, the whole "Line 3/4/9 Yishan Road terminal station situation" is a cruel joke. How can it be terminal station if it's not at the terminus? Most of the time the train will just pass through Yishan Lu like a normal stop, but other times, you're forced to get off and wait five minutes for the next train. Or get out and hail a cab if it's late.
There are pros and cons to the Shanghai metro passengers' lack of diversity. The downside is you can't really bide the commute people-watching like in New York. The upside is it's not a mobile Arkham Asylum. Shanghai subway passengers don't hold a candle to the rogue's gallery of of masturbators, gypsy hustlers, spree hammerers and metro track pusher-oners lurking about the NY system. That being said, we do have our own special eggs: pole huggers, toenail clippers, luggage loungers, smartphone shouters, metro munchers, not-so-little-emperors, that guy who uses his gnarly nail like a Swiss army knife to clean his every orifice -- to name a few.
P.S. We were going to gripe about the metro's egregiously early closing times, but starting in April, they're extending operating hours by 30-60 minutes depending on the line. So no real complaints here. Though if you do go out on week nights, you still have to cap your night at around 10pm if you wanna catch the train.