Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Going to the doctor is not easy feat in China. I felt like a true urban warrior this morning helping my girlfriend go to the dentist this morning. Because public hospitals and dental clinics do not allow reservations or appointments we woke up at 3:30 am to take a taxi halfway across Beijing (from CBD to Peking University), arriving at 5am in order to wait in a queue until 7am when they start giving out numbered tickets to the doctor of your choice. The constituency of the wait room is a strange brew--ticket scalpers, gofers, normal dental patients, and those whose dental hygiene has gotten so out of control as to pose a serious health risk--all a result of the unique political, economic, and social pressures confronting contemporary China. The men shown in the picture are most probably professional reservationists--individuals whose life work is to go from hospital to hospital early enough to grab the prime tickets to later sell to the higher bidder at the end of the line. A number one spot in line can turn a 7 RMB ticket into a 200 RMB cash cow for the right scalper.