Monday, December 16, 2013

Ma Lei and the Taxi Driver

Ma Lei was taking a taxi home from the grocery store the other day. In front of her cab was a car driven, very slowly, by a woman. Ma Lei's driver was very annoyed.

"Stupid woman driver!" He said to her. "Women all have pig-brains!" He continued in that vein for some time, insisting that every woman alive is a complete and unmitigated idiot.

China is a place where political correctness has never hit, and sometimes that can be quite refreshing. One doesn't have to tiptoe around people's sensitivities, use only the exact right word ("differently-abled"), or worry that a woman will take offense at being called "Miss Jones" rather than "Ms. Jones" In this instance, though, Ma Lei was not amused.

"Really?" She asked. "All women have pig-brains?"


"How about your mother?" 

No answer.

"How about your sisters?" 

Still no answer.

"How about your daughter? All pig-brains?"

Here, he could have gotten a bit offended if he'd taken her remark out of context as an insult to his own daughter. (I know that wouldn't make logical sense, since she was just using the logic of his own comment against him, but it wouldn't be uncommon for someone to respond in a knee-jerk, illogical way to a remark like that.) 

Somehow, though, her manner was such that rather than getting his dander up he was starting to chuckle out loud.

Like a good martial artist, she pressed her advantage: "And Cixi?" (Former Empress Dowager of China. She's widely despised by the contemporary Chinese as an evil, manipulative genius, but certainly not an idiot.)

"How about Queen Elizabeth? Pig-brain?"

"And Hu Jintao's wife? Pig-brain too?"

Ma Lei has this way of cutting people down to size, but in a manner that is more good-natured than harsh. I've seen it many times. By this time, the driver was red-faced from laughter rather than from anger.

I wish I had her skill of significantly upbraiding people, slicing their whole worldview to ribbons in ruthlessly logical form — yet somehow making their day in the process. I'd be a much more persuasive philosopher and occasional cultural activist, if I did! 

Alas, all I can do is enjoy her rapier wit and, once in a while, report it to the world that needs to know of her awesomeness.

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