… and that is a conservative estimate, writes Bernie Leo of Shanghai Daily.
We have to give it to him in the way that he succeeds to make a science out of the subject:
Population figures for the city vary wildly but the latest I can find say we have 17 million permanent residents and four to five million migrants. Obviously not everyone is a spitter or expectorator. (And there is a difference. To spit is to expel saliva; to expectorate is to eject phlegm). So we cancel out young children, the elderly who are in care facilities and more enlightened citizens.
I reckon that leaves seven million hawkers. Some cough up a teaspoon each time; some a tablespoon. Some hawk 15 times a day; some maybe twice. So if we balance that out and say that the average hawker does the deed four times a day at 60 milliliters a shot, we have the 1.68 million liters. That’s 11.76 million liters a week and 613.2 million liters a year.
An Olympic swimming pool is 50 meters long, 25 meters wide, three meters deep at the blocks and two meters deep at the far end. It holds 3,125,001 liters of water when full. Shanghai hawkers could overflow an Olympic pool every two days.
Now that is a whole lot of spit. The writer then goes on to exhort Shanghai burghers to stop the spitting habit — the ultimate exercise in preaching to the converted considering the paper he’s writing for. We suspect he might have better luck if his article were translated for say the Jiefang Daily.
Now if those RMB200 car horn fines worked so wonderfully in keeping the noise level down in Shanghai, why not bring back those RMB200 spitting fines? As far as we remember, they did work five years ago during the SARS crisis, sparking talk that SARS would lead to the end of spitting — which certainly sounds like a big joke now. The breakout of the epidemic led to campaigns such as these which saw a rash of posters enveloping the city, all seeking to educate citizens on the merits of not spitting and how to do it if they feel they really have to. They were omnipresent, but did that help at all? Not an iota.
The only way to really change Shanghai’s spitting image (sorry, couldn’t resist that one), we think, is not by education, but by enforcement of those anti-spitting fines they once had and worked so well. Sad, but true — but to make any noticeable change, one’s gotta hit where it really hurts.
In western Europe, frequent spitting was part of everyday life, and at all levels of society (surprise, surprise!), and “it was thought ill-mannered to suck back saliva to avoid spitting. By the early 1700s, spitting had become seen as something which should be concealed, and by 1859 many viewed the spitting on the floor or street as vulgar, especially in mixed company.”
How long will it now take for China?
Shanghai Daily: Holy spit, Shanghai,these routes aren’t made for hawking
Shanghai Star: Spitting is here to stay – unless . . .
Photo from Summer Under Heaven. Her caption reads, “In China, even the architecture spits, while the impressionable young girl looks on.”