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#118 Impatience

Posted May 23rd, 2009 by Peter · 18 Comments

Andrew L. says: “I ride the 30-Stockton bus from North Beach through Chinatown to the business district every day here in San Francisco. I’ve noticed that many of my fellow Chinese riders sit on the very edge of their seats at all times, almost as if they’re prepared to stand and fly out the door at any moment. Is there a sociological background to this phenomenon?”


Well, Andrew; this is a great observation. From the story, I think you’re referring more to the edginess and urgency that most asians share. I have just the anecdote to clear this up for you too; one about Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle. Why are Asians so impatient? Post #118, Impatience, is here to save the day!

When the Olympics came to China, there was a great debate about which events Hong Kong would host. At the time, my friend from Hong Kong alluded to the asians there being able to win all the running events. Asking him why, he jokingly answered, “they dash from train to train, weave through crowds of people and traffic, and can leap concrete barriers as if they were hurtles.” I grinned ever so slightly, but it got me thinking about why Asians were so impatient.

Now, if you’ve ever been to Hong Kong (or any other Asian Country for that matter), you would know exactly what my friend was talking about. Latica F. adds, “Walking down the streets of Hong Kong is like fighting for first place in a marathon. Everyone is not only competitive, but they are all in a hurry. No matter what time it is during the day, people are rushing in and out of buildings, constantly walking at a rapid pace.”


Where does this all come from, though? The fact is that most Asian countries share a common history: they have at one time been ruled by other tribes or imperial countries. Hong Kong, at one point, was controlled by the British for 99 years. Vietnam was tossed around like a hot potato between the French, Chinese, and more recently, the Chinese (again) under the guise of a polygamist the world calls Ho Chi Minh (but let’s not talk about that ______). But I digress…

When British rule was about to end in Hong Kong, the people feared that they would lose their democracy and way of life. To counter this, they established their current culture in 30 short years, something miraculous if you think about how it’s only a needle in the historical haystack that is Asia’s past. The bottom line is that under the constant pressure to solidify and preserve their democratic lifestyle, the Hong Kong people urgently rallied and created a fast-paced and competitive culture that still exists today, even under the watchful eye of China.

This brings us to the next reason: competition. While the rest of the world is shrouded in alcoholism, Hong Kong is enamored by workaholism. Long work hours, tight deadlines, and pressure to produce quality work create a highly competitive environment; which brings us back to family expectations. In a family where everyone works so hard, the children are also pressured to do well academically and live up to expectations.This explains why Asian children are always so academically competitive. If you want to talk more about competition, check the elevator’s close button in any Asian building (it’ll be worn out).


Don’t be alarmed if you see jaywalkers as well. Asians never use traffic lights for regulating traffic. Instead, they use it as as a sort of colorful crossing reference. Says Latica, ‘Oh the light is red now so that means I can cross when there are no cars coming.’ ‘Oh it’s green, I can cross without even looking.’ It is a great way to pursue life: with risks and excitement everyday!

In the end, Asians will always be known as “nerds” and “grade-grubbers”  in grade school and  hard workers in life because they are under a societal pressure and competition. In addition, they will always jaywalk because it’s the norm in their countries (though in Taiwan, it is illegal). Even if I’ve covered mostly Hong Kong’s culture today, Impatience is very relevant in countries that have been under imperial rule like Vietnam, India, and Singapore.

Thanks for reading this week’s post, and thank you for the observation about Asians being so impatient, Andrew.

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Tags: Business · Chinese · Culture · Customs · Environment · Habits · History · People · Relationships · Tidbits · Travel

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Daily News About Fighting : A few links about Fighting - Saturday, 23 May 2009 21:06 // May 24, 2009 at 1:50 am

    [...] #118 Impatience [...]

  • 2 Anonymous // May 25, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    So you think Asian People Like to be impatient? I thought your website is supposed to describe things that we like, or are you running out of juice?

  • 3 Kvietgrl // May 26, 2009 at 10:16 am

    From what I know the author has a list of over 365 things to be written but right now he’s focusing on the most popular topics that readers request him to write about. Stay tuned!

  • 4 Anonymous // Jun 6, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Asians are the Best.

    No race will EVER beat them.

  • 5 Asian that also rides the #30 Bus // Jun 6, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    #118 Impatience

    You got this totally wrong! The reason why chinese people sit on the edge of the seats on the buses is not because they are impatient. The REAL reason is because they don’t like to sit on warm seats! That’s why they sit on as little surface as possible. They believe that diseases can be transferred to them if they sit on someone elses warm seat. Ya’ll obviously didn’t grow up in the O.C. (original chinatown).

  • 6 Ali // Jun 29, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Does this have anything to do with why the people in Chinatown don’t know that pedestrians have the right of way?

    Chinatown’s a funny place. It’s the only place in the city where you can haggle :) .

  • 7 Tom // Aug 5, 2009 at 7:27 am

    I second that warm seat comment posted below, my mother always told me that growing up and to this day I always shift in my seat or try to sit on the cold part.

  • 8 Candace // Sep 1, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Impatience is seen in any BIG CITY that’s crowded REGARDLESS of race.

    Go to New York and see for yourself. Don’t tell me the people there are all nice and patient. And last time I checked, this also exists in areas that are predominately non-asian.

  • 9 sl0th // Sep 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Hmm I’ve never been to Hong Kong so I can’t vouch for everyone else’s motives. But to offer an alternative explanation, I sit on the edge of my seat/release brakes before the light turns green/etc cause I don’t like making other people wait. Call it regard for others or a minor guilt complex, whichever, but I like to think if everyone did the same, buses would stay on schedule and we could all get off the plane faster.

  • 10 outer banks rentals // Nov 5, 2009 at 12:32 am

    I believe that Asians are not impatient. And they are a good race. I have lots of Asian friends and I have all good praises for them.

  • 11 KR // Feb 12, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Actually i think jaywalking id illegal in all Asian cvountries. Its jsut that there are too many people doing it.

  • 12 Danster // Feb 12, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Why post about impatience? Seriously, why? I gotta wonder at the topic choice, don’t you think many races are impatient? Do you honestly believe that Asians “like” to be impatient?

    Obviously there are many Asians who are impatient, but to post a blog topic that stereotypes all Asians as being this way is just dumb. I have seen so many dumb articles on this site that are just plain offensive. Asians have to stick together and not put each other down online. I see many Asians supporting each other and sticking together in real life, but for some strange reason online they attack each other.

  • 13 me soo horney me love you long time // Jun 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I think over all cities are pretty fucken busy and requires a lot of energy just to get through traffic streets and such.

  • 14 Laoshi // Oct 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    “If you want to talk more about competition, check the elevator’s close button in any Asian building (it’ll be worn out).”

    I live in China and I HATE this. I’ll be waiting for the lift and the doors will open for just a second before someone is trying to close them again. I’ve had them closed on me many times. The funny thing is once they get off the lift the walk down the hall so slowly chatting and I can’t get past.

  • 15 wood pellets // Feb 28, 2011 at 2:17 am

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  • 17 trulyasian // Apr 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

    hmm. All big cities have people walking like there’s no tomorrow… not just in asia. I dont think it’s IMPATIENCE but asians or at least most of them esp in japan.. value time. Time really is gold, and you move slowly you lose whatever you could have don or gained. Asians are practical an i guess that includes time valuing.

  • 18 Tommy // Oct 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Um, I’m kind of wondering why you never put any other Asian countries, like Thailand for example or India. They’re Asian too, like the Philippines and Brunei and Malaysia..

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