China Elevator Stories

“Where Are You Going?”

I chat with a stranger at a bus station in Guilin.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


As I enter the long-distance bus station in Guilin, a guy in his 30s asks me: “Where are you going?”

Thinking that he wants to sell me a black-market ticket, I say: “I’m buying the ticket at the booth, thanks.”
He asks again: “Where are you going? Guangzhou? Shenzhen?”

I queue up in front of the ticket booth and tell him again that I am buying the ticket at the booth. The guy doesn’t give up so easily and asks once more if I’m going to Guangzhou or Shenzhen. Feeling a bit irritated, I tell him that I’m going to Shenzhen.

He says: “There’s a bus leaving soon. You can buy the ticket directly on the bus.”
I answer: “I’m going to Shenzhen tomorrow, not today.”
“There’s a bus going to Shenzhen tomorrow at 8pm. I’m the driver. You can buy the ticket at the booth today.”
Feeling embarrassed because of acting snippy for all the wrong reasons, I ask: “Where in Shenzhen does the bus stop?”

After he tells me, it’s my turn at the ticket booth. The woman behind the glass window asks me: “Where would you like to go?”
The driver tells her: “She wants to go to Shenzhen, tomorrow at 8pm.
The woman frowns at the driver and looks at me, askingly.
I repeat my intention: “I want to go to Shenzhen tomorrow evening.”
She inquires: “Is the bus at 8 okay?”
I ask: “How long does it take?”
“Ten hours.”
“That’s okay then.”

While the woman in the booth prints my ticket, the driver says to me, delighted: “That’s my bus! Welcome on my bus tomorrow.”

As I hand the woman the money, I tell her that I would like to book a bottom berth.
“This is not a sleeper bus.”
“Oh. Are there any sleeper busses tomorrow?”

She tells me the times and I buy a ticket for a sleeper bus instead of the one at 8pm. Before I wander off with my ticket, I nod goodbye to the driver who was very enthusiastic about having me on his bus.

Have you ever mistaken someone’s good intentions for bad ones?

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