They don't have snowplows in Beijing. Why should they? It hardly ever snows.
That means that when it does snow half a foot in one day, it's gonna have to sit there. For days. It makes for a killer snowfort in the front yard. But driving? Not so fun.
Driving has been treacherous. It's still icy and sleety and slushy and dangerous on the roads around our house. They've dug out the parking lots in most places, and the major roads. But the small roads - not so much. Our little street was just dug out, by shovel, this afternoon.
No, Beijing does not have snowplows. What Beijing does have is people. Lots and lots of people. And so yesterday, when I loaded up the still-on-winter-break kids and drove them to a nearby restaurant for milkshakes, we had to make our way around a crowd of 100 local farmers and migrant workers, all bearing shovels, getting ready to dig out the bike lane along the highway.
That, my friends, is a Chinese snowplow. And they've appeared all over the roads in the last couple of days. Hordes of workers with shovels, some without gloves, in single-digit temperatures.
If you gave an average American a shovel and told him to go dig out the streets for a couple of dollars, I think he'd refuse. I certainly couldn't survive more than an hour out there, gloveless, hacking away at chunks of ice on the side of a highway.
We don't have the manpower to shovel out an entire city by hand.
But then, we have snowplows.
Who wins this battle of the superpowers?
It's supposed to snow again tomorrow. Maybe this time I'll remember to bring my camera and catch a shot of the shovel brigade.