Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Emergent chaos

I've been swimming a couple of times over the last week, late in the evening before heading home. The Chinese are not known for their queuing skills, something which I, along with every other expat blogger has commented on ad nauseam in the past. However, it turns out the spending time in a swimming pool here allows you to see the lack of queuing skills writ large.

The chaos in a laned swimming pool is just incredible. One may have thought that having a single side of a lane for each direction was a relatively sensible setup, however, not only does this not happen, but when people do self-organise into something resembling a clockwise rotation, the vortex created seems to attract wayfarers who then swim into the middle of the lane, in the centre of the pool and tread water, gently watching as the lane swimmers attempt not to bump into them, sometimes. On the occasions that these self-imposed traffic wardens were hit by a particularly careless swimmer, the swimmer was severely chastised for not watching where they were bloody going. On other occasions swimmers would drape themselves over the lane dividers, letting their legs float in the middle of the lane, completely oblivious to those around them who may find this distinctly awkward.

I got strange looks as I laughed while watching this bizarre spectacle of disorganisation, and the life-guards sat around smoking. I'm happy to say that this sort of thing more amuses than annoys me as it seems to to many other expats. I don't think this is a comment on my higher tolerance levels, but perhaps the fact that I have a low threshold for base humour (Thanks Phill).

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