May 20, 2009

China mysteries: swingin' arms

Compared to what I've observed living in America, there are more Chinese folks that wildly swing their arms when they walk. Don't get me wrong, everyone swings their arms to some degree when they walk. It's natural. But regular people seem to limit the swinging to a 90 degree arc or less. What I'm frequently observing in China is some wild arm swingers who do a 120 degree arc or more.

These big arm swingers are in the minority, for sure. In Beijing, you'll notice them when you're walking briskly along a moderately crowded sidewalk. As you pass a stranger from the side, their swinging arm connects with your crotch, causing you to curl up in a ball of pain.

Remember the Seinfeld episode, "The Summer of George", where Elaine's co-worker (played by Molly Shannon) walks without swinging her arms naturally?
Walter: What's with her arms? They just hang like salamis.
Dugan: She walks like orangutan.
Elaine: Better call the zoo.
What I've observed is the exact opposite thing -- this relatively small group of people who swing their arms so much it's odd. The only way I can explain it is that it could be a way to get extra exercise while out and about.

Maybe the explanation to this specific China Mystery is that in America, many folks are confined to their cars, eating Burger King and watching themselves slowly get fatter. There's no opportunity to watch them walking and swinging their arms, because they don't really walk much at all. This means I don't really have an equivalent sample data set in the US to compare to China. Perhaps if I were in New York City or some place with a lot of pedestrians I could gather some anecdotal evidence and do a better comparison.


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