As I stepped out of Wuxing department store, I stood amazed at the stampede of peddlers charging past with no concern for life or limb. As they pushed their “hot dog” stands at flank speed and ran with arms full of gallon pickle jars, water splashed, wheels roared, and the road cleared of all pedestrians. Was it just quitting time or were there mean cowboys at the rear bearing 20-foot whips?
When the dust settled, I left the protection of the department store to investigate what had caused the commotion. Snakes…low prices at the market…aliens? I noticed about five men in dark blue police uniforms strolling the streets like it was a sunny, summer day. Either they were completely deaf and blind, or the fading stampede had not really soaked in, nor would it.
I saw them calmly confiscate two tables left behind as if it was routine trash to be cleaned off the street. I then saw the remainder of the Mob Squad: about 10 officers, some in golashes in case a stray puddle got in their way, in two mini-buses to come to make sure the streets were just as they were everyday. All of the hundreds of the people on the street, including the officers, knew that dozens of street peddlers took to the streets every day at lunch time to sell their wares. Evidently, everybody except me also knew that periodic visits from the blue-suits were simply an occupational hazard.
And I thought I left a good cattle drive behind in dusty Texas.