It feels a bit weird to admit this, but I actually prefer taking the bus over the MTR — Hong Kong’s clean, efficient metro system — because it keeps me sane. The bus might take twice as long, but at least I’m not shoved aside by people rushing into the trains at stops, or squished into a corner by the rush hour masses.
Every time I ride the MTR, I witness some kind of egregious behaviour that I wish I could punish with a slap across the face or a kick to the groin. I’m obviously not alone, because Mark Tjhung, an editor at the local edition of Time Out magazine, has fulfilled my daily dream: he became a subway vigilante. In a video that accompanies a column about rude behaviour on the MTR, Tjhung poses as an officer of the “MTR Police” and gives out tickets for infractions he sees while riding the trains (along with a yellow card, soccer-style, just for kicks).
Unfortunately, Tjhung is mistaken for a real MTR employee, and his first order of business is to deal with a pile of vomit somebody has left on the platform. The video is also somewhat disappointing — we get to vicariously chastise a kid who sits blithely in front of the hobbled old lady standing in front of him, and smirk as Tjhung gives a ticket to a teenager drinking bubble tea on the train, but we don’t have the satisfaction of seeing justice brought to the absolute worst human beings on the MTR: the door-rushers.
Still, it’s nice to see Tjhung pick up the slack for frustratingly passive MTR employees, who lack the chutzpah of subway conductors in London or New York, where you’ll get screamed at if you’re doing something wrong. (Toronto, in a typically Canadian fashion, has passive-aggressive subway conductors: “If you keep playing with the doors, this train isn’t going anywhere.”) And even if riding the MTR can be a frustrating lesson in human unkindness, we can be glad that our subway vigilantes are more like Mark Tjhung and less like Bernie Goetz.
Tags: Hong Kong, Metro, MTR, Subway