Guess what, folks. The Olympics are coming to town! Perhaps I’ve mentioned that before. In fact, it’s only 430 days away! The already frentetic preparations are starting to pick up steam. There are stadiums to be built, roadways to be expanded, subways to be dug, songs to be written. And then there’s that pesky thing about the behavior of Beijingers. This seems to be best handled with slogans. The main slogan that’s plastered all over town now is this: 迎奥运，讲文明，树新风 (ying aoyun, jiang wenming, shu xin feng). Like all slogans, it’s very difficult to translate, but here’s an attempt: Welcome the Olympics; Be Civilized; Start a New Trend. If you translated into real language, I suppose it would be something like this: "Come on people, the Olympics are coming. Let’s start a new trend and act civilized."
As I’ve said before, it’s a campaign that I can get behind. In fact, I even did my part earlier this evening. As I was leaving my apartment building, there were two young guys in front of me on the path, each with a plastic water bottle in his hand. As they walked by a big hedge and some bushes, one of the guys just hurled his empty bottle into the bushes and kept on walking. I was not amused, and harrumphed loud enough to get their attention. When they turned around, I stopped them dead in their tracks by asking, in Chinese, "is that what you call civilized behavior?" Fortunately, they knew the right answer and replied, "no!" "Well, then," I told them, "you go into the bushes and get out that bottle and put it into a trash can where it belongs!" Since I was a foreigner talking to them in their language, and was about twice their age, that must have given me some perceived aura of authority, because when I left them, they were digging around the bushes looking for the bottle.
The other half of the slogan mentioned above goes like this: 我参与，我奉献，我快乐！(wo canyu; wo fengxian; wo kuai le!) Translation: I’ll participate; I’ll serve; I’ll be happy.
I figure by scolding those guys and making them pick up their trash I did that. I participated. I served. I’m happy! Where do I get my t-shirt?