My New Year’s Eve night started off with chicken feet and ended in Timessquare. At dinner after work, we ate in a private room to practice English with some of the employees. After a number of dishes I had already tried before (or at least some variation), Sean brought out the chicken feet that were “his favorite.” It looked like they had just chopped them off the bird. But I buckled down and I ate it. They were very boney. In fact, the only edible parts of the chicken feet are the skin. And that skin, tasty as it was, was heavily spiced with banana peppers, I believe. But this only kicked off the craziness that would be New Year’s Eve.
After dinner, Minnie and I went to a mall where a hot sale was going on in the entire mall. Basically, for every 500 RMB (about $80 USD) you bought, you would get 300 (about $45 USD) RMB for free. Apparently, I was wrong to compare Black Friday in America to Christmas Day in China. That was kid’s play. Black Friday might as well be a Tuesday morning in Fargo, ND compared to China. New Year’s Eve in Shanghai might be the biggest shopping day in the world. People run around, from all directions – buying, selling, and searching for bargains. It was a beautiful display of capitalism in a communist country hosting an anarchistic environment. I’ve been to a lot of rock concerts in my short, 20 years on this Earth and these crowds were more intimidating than any mosh pit.
When we finally emerged from the chaos at 11ish, I need a wide open field of wheat to run in by myself. We met up with a couple of Minnie’s friends and hit a café. Minutes before the clock struck midnight, we headed out into the street, which just happened to be called “Timessquare” and watch the year turn to 2011 while all of my family and friends in the States were still in 2010.
The subway was running later on New Year’s Eve, but it was going to stop soon. So we hustled to the underground and made one of the last trains. After two stops, we were at capacity. It turns out, this was the last train of the night. Hundreds of people must have piled into this tiny little steel bullets hurdling underground. When we arrived at the stop we needed to get off, there was a brief moment of calm as we looked through the window and saw all of the people that wanted to get on the train. It was as if two armies were squaring off for battle. Through this thin glass, we looked at each other, not sure over which one would win. About a hundred people needed to get on and about a hundred needed to get off. But there wasn’t time, or space, to execute a maneuver like that. A lot of people were going to get left behind or stuck on the train, depending on where you were going. There was no way I was going to be one of those people stuck on a place where I wasn’t supposed to be.
When the doors opened, there was a moment where an unstoppable force met an immovable object. We were gridlocked. Like two phalanxes locked in a fight. But as people began to slither through, the dam began to buckle. I slid and pushed and jumped my way through the crowd and into sweet, sweet freedom. It wasn’t easy and I’m not proud of the things I did, but I made it. I was home and in bed by 1:30 a.m.