Migrant worker offering bus seat gets insulted, triggers clamor for more respect for peasants

December 30, 2011Jing Gao4 Comments, , , , , , ,

From Modern Express and Sina Weibo

A young peasant-turned migrant worker gave up his bus seat to a woman with a little child. His well-meant offer was abruptly rejected by the woman, who claimed his seat was “too dirty,” and took it out on her child desiring the seat. The post, recounted by a witness, has sparked heated discussion on the Internet. Many net users, while acknowledging contempt for peasants-turned migrant workers is very common, call for treating them as equal human beings.

According the web post, the incident took place in Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei province in North China. A woman carrying a little child in her arms got onto the packed bus. She seemed to have made strenuous efforts to keep her feet. A migrant worker in his 20s stood up from his seat and said to the young mother, “Please sit here.” The woman, instead of taking the seat and being grateful, looked askance at him and said point-blank, “No.” The young man, embarrassed, decided to return to his seat, when the child implored to the mother, “Mom, I want to sit. I want to sit.” On hearing this, the young man stood up again to offer the seat. The woman yelled at her child, “What the heck? Aren’t you afraid of dirtiness and contracting diseases?”

The post has broached the topic of discrimination against migrant workers. Ms. Nie told newspaper Modern Express that she once saw a middle-aged woman, upon taking seat from a migrant worker, took out handkerchief and wiped the seat repeatedly in front of him, despite that the seat was without a spot. “At the time, many people on the bus saw her behavior. Some passengers immediately accused her of being rude,” Ms. Nie said. Mr. Wang, who has been a bus driver for years, said, “Migrant workers are stained with dirt, lime and paint after they finish work at the construction sites. Due to time or financial restraints, they get onto bus without getting changed. Then some passengers, on seeing them, will flinch or shun in fear of dirtiness.”

Many migrant workers, afraid of being disliked and disdained for the sweat and stains on their clothing, sit on the floor or cringe at the corner when using public transportation to avoid a crowd, even if there are plenty of empty seats. In recent years, such photos have aroused public sympathy for migrant workers at the very bottom rung of the society on multiple occasions.

The following photos of migrant workers giving up seats and sitting on the floor/at the corner are taken from popular online discussion forums.


A migrant worker surnamed Wang from Sichuan province told the reporter that he often takes off his dirty jacket or overalls before getting onto the bus. But in the freezing winter when stripping off outerwear is not an option, he can only keep wearing them on the bus. So he always find a corner to stay to avoid putting off fellow riders. He said his biggest wish is to receive more due respect while living in the beautiful city.

Chinese netizens have been highly vocal in their support for the cold-shouldered migrant workers. On Sina Weibo, a hugely popular microblogging service, the news has become the top trending topic and received 1.3 million comments, according to its measuring system.

i郭舸微博达人:Even if those migrant workers are really dirty, the dirtiness is only caused by the dust from building the city. But you, who treated him like dirt, are dirty because of your soul, which has been encroached upon by parasites. 

际会风云:Our houses are all built by peasant workers (This is a discriminatory term. To be accurate, they should be called construction workers). Just don’t live inside if you have the gut, and instead sleep on the street and be disdained. Roads are also built by construction workers. Don’t use them if you have the gut, and instead walk the muddy, gritty road and bump along until death… Peasant workers are the disadvantaged in China. They are rarely cared for. But their honesty, good-heartedness, diligence and brilliance are the torch of Chinese civilization that has been passed for thousands of years. They should not be discriminated against!

嵩山汉柏:Where do food come from without peasants? Where do edifices come from without peasants.

丶阿翔丶:F**k! That woman’s low quality of character aside, the poor kid is ruined too.

青岛校园新浪机构认证:Whose ancestors three generations ago weren’t peasants? The most important thing about being a human being is not to forget about the past. Among what you eat and inhabit, which one is not made by peasants? Many people may be lashing out on the woman with righteousness on the internet. Hope that in real life they can act in line with what they claim, and do not be a bad influence to your kids. 

刘小猫穷叨叨微博达人:This is not a matter of respect or lack thereof, or a matter of dirty clothing or not. This is something wrong with the society. The stratification of social classes has taught the woman that the migrant worker’s class is lower than hers and makes him filthy. Besides, the moral thinking of a social group can easily turn to accusation and condemnation of others. Lashing out at others is not called moral. Only reflecting upon oneself is.

小南烯微博达人:Good-heartedness is not met with recompense…If you think it is dirty, why do you go take the bus anyway?[疑问] Why not hail a taxi cab..[怒].. The child will be ruined by your bad influence…Feel ashamed for you…[鄙视][鄙视]  ···

程小愚:You know, what 24 million peasant workers means to the entire society.

However, there are a handful of net users who are very candid about their concerns if put in the same shoe.

cloverblue:Yesterday, a woman sat to my right. Even if I have a terrible nose, I could still smell the chicken poop from her heavy body odor…I was afraid that shunning her would embarrass her and make me look very disrespectful, so I sat through that all along and never stood up…Maybe disliking the heavy smell deep down is also disrespectful?

唯爱v希_:Let’s be honest: no one likes to sit by the side of a person with dirty clothing.

茉莉薇香:If the migrant workers sit on the bus seats, others will definitely all leave. Can anyone show understanding towards those fellow riders? Make them get changed and take another bus? Who can provide that convenience? No wonder they (the migrant workers) feel inferior. They are not up to those above their class and have no one under them.

夏衡崽:I can’t promise that I could remain poised and calm if they sat next to me. I simply want to ask, how many of you can keep your countenance and show real sincerity? Therefore, in addition to lamenting the society, one had better consider what he himself should do.

Related articles:

4 comments to “Migrant worker offering bus seat gets insulted, triggers clamor for more respect for peasants”

  1. F. Sánchez L. | December 30, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    En realidad, son los lugares de trabajo, los que deben proveer agua para el aseo de los trabajadores y también es necesario hacer campañas de concientización para que los mismos trabajadores se aseen cuando terminan sus labores y antes de subir a un medio de transporte.

  2. LotusEater | December 31, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    These same people commenting on the ‘dirty workers’ would probably castigate people in the US for discriminating against African Americans. It’s the same principle!!

  3. Andre M. Smith | January 3, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    There but for the grace of God go I.
    John Bradford (1510–1555), Englishman.

  4. lala | January 6, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    what I want to say is the woman who is the one really dirty form inside of her heart, I do not know the way she teach her child will make another victim in Hebei province.

    Migrant worker they are not dirty, they have a heart much whiter than the snow. The woman as a mother just imagine if your husband or your father one day also had the same experience what will you think. I really want to scold you you are a son of bitch!

Leave a Reply