Over the past week I’ve been in the process of collecting meaningless documents, paying extortionate prices for official translations of meaningless documents, and capping it all off with a wholly arbitrary and costly trip to Hong Kong. As I’ve been going through this process of changing my Chinese student visa to a working one LEGALLY, I’ve forced myself to stay away from this blog; lest I succumb to posting a cliched or hateful rant. But this week I found a shimmering glimmer of hope a midst it all that’s allowed me to sit down and write this overdue post.
Whenever you go to a train station to buy tickets in China, you can almost always count on at least 1 or 2 people for every ten standing in line to just cut right to the front. This gets even worse in lower tier cities or when there’s abnormally long lines. This week though when I went to buy my ticket to Hong Kong I found this:
It’s a one-way turnstile with surrounding guardrails that allow people in line to get through, but prevent cutters from getting close enough to the teller to slap down their dirty dirty money. Sure enough, as I neared the front, one confident jerk approached the front out of nowhere, only to be thwarted by the device. He tried to reach his money over the turnstile and yell to the clerk, but alas, he was out of reach. He sighed in exasperation, looked around for a few seconds mulling his options, and then begrudgingly walked to the back of the line. I had to restrain myself from applauding as a slight tear formed in my eye.
I’d never been to this particular train station before so I can’t say whether or not this device is new, but I’d never seen one before. A few months ago I wrote about an equally impressive customer service rating machine that could revolutionize the country’s economy. I can only hope potentially game-changing innovations like these will continue to emerge in China and spread to every train station, hospital, post office and bureaucratic institution. A thousand pieces of flowery propaganda can’t come close to achieving the same sense of satisfaction and renewed appreciation for China’s development that these simple, yet tangible, measures bring about.