While visiting friends in an old neighborhood of Beijing last week, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before –quite a few of the cars parked along the streets and alleyways were covered.
When I got to my friend’s house I asked her about it. The conversation proceeded like this:
Me: Why do some of the cars have covers on them?
She: (laughing) Oh, this is a new phenomenon in Beijing. The drivers don’t have permits to park their cars in the neighborhood. The covers are to prevent the traffic control police from seeing that they don’t have permits. This neighborhood is very strict when it comes to parking.
Me: Well, can’t the traffic police just pull up the cover and look at the windshield?
She: Oh, that’s too much work for them. They just go by because they only have to report (and ticket) the cars that they inspect and see don’t have permits. Since they can’t see whether the cars have tickets or not, they just move on. Once one car did it, the others started; they didn’t want the traffic police to pass up the car parked in front and ticket their car, so they covered it to.
And presto! – a new industry is born – producing car covers!
Another classic example of the old Chinese adage: the top takes measures and the bottom takes counter-measures.
Or, to put it into plain English — the leaders make the rules and the people find a way around them.