It’s kind of sad that most crossing guards in China are pretty much meaningless fixtures to street corners that few people listen to. Many people will cross the street if they have a reasonable chance of getting across the street safely, no matter what the crossing guard says or does.
Taking risks you wouldn’t back home
I am one of those people. Being in China might make you take risks you wouldn’t back home. It is probably a pretty stupid thing to cross the street when some crazy taxi driver might accelerate into your knee-caps, but that’s not what I’m thinking about when I want to get across the street. How so?
Here, I’m just like everyone else. I want to get across the street, and now. And when crossing guards whistle at me, it annoys me. Not so much because they are trying to do their job, but because there is already enough noise around without a whistle adding to the overall noise level. To be honest, I’d rather they just look the other way. How about you?
Stopping dangerous drivers
However, today I was very happy to see a crossing guard prevent a car from slowly plowing into a crowd of people crossing the street during a red light. Many drivers in China will inch forward into a crowd of people, even if it is not their right of way. Such drivers will literally force their way through crowds of people.
It’s not very respectful or humane, but it fits into a mantra that too many hold in mainland China: If I don’t know you, I don’t care about you (at all). Thus I was very happy to see a crossing guard walk up to the car, wave her flag at it and whistle as hard as she could. Although it didn’t do much, it serves the driver right for trying to plow into an innocent crowd of people.