Pitter-Patter Feet Can Mean Only One Thing … A Female Bulldozer is Coming!

I was in a crowded Beijing Subway system navigating the intricate intersections of colliding surges of mass humanity, all in a hurry to get somewhere, when I heard the sound of “pitter-patter” feet above the din (the rapid succession of beats made by stiletto heels striking the granite subway floor. Honestly, I did not know, at first, what hit me. It was a slim, 5’6” woman wearing eye-glasses in her 20’s carrying an oversized purse in one arm, which she wielded deftly as a machete to cut down jungle overgrowth, and 2-3 shopping bags in the other arm, which also served to widen her girth, as a bulldozer leaves a swath of fallen uprooted earth.

Evidently, several young woman employ the same strategy. If you appear in a hurry, wear stilettos, and are able to generate the requisite pitter-patter sounds, you have the right-of-way, or, at least, conventional, polite human protocols in subway systems are temporarily suspended and do not apply to the same.

I inquired about this experience with our Chinese language teachers, who are all women. They laughed. It was as if, I had cracked a cultural code. Not only do you need to generate the required sounds, bear parcels of burdens, but you also need to make the appropriate sounds, which are like squeals of excitement, always looking ahead, as if you are trying to catch up to someone, and you act completely surprised, even hurt, if someone challenges you for being reckless. It is their defensive strategy for constantly being pushed around and jostled by larger, bigger, and stronger men (and some women).

The next time, I hear pitter-patter feet, I am going to get out of the way, as quickly as possible. It just isn’t worth the confrontation. And, it is just part of Chinese culture. Welcome to China!

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