Speaking of Spring Festival, family reunion, friends gathering, firework, fire-crackers, lucky money, big feast, brand new clothes, new year scrolls etc will pop up into people’s mind. For Chinese people, Spring Festival is the time after a whole year’s hard work, you get to take a considerably long break to go home and rest; it is the time when you can share your harvest of the year to your family and/or show off to your hometown fellows; it is the time for happiness and celebration.
Aside from celebration, another hottest topic of each year’s Spring Festival is the transport rush. With more than 229 million migrant workers (as of 2009) scattering in different cities, majority of which is in the southern and eastern part of the country, China’s transportation system face enormous challenge every year, especially railway system. Migrant workers often have to wait in line for days to get a train ticket home.
This year, the Ministry of Railway launches an official ticket booking website to diverge the burden of ticket windows. However, many migrant workers find themselves almost impossible to get a ticket. Here is a letter addresses to the Ministry of Railway by a migrant worker. It went viral on the Internet soon after being published by Wenzhou City News, and even attracts CCTV’s attention.
Translation of the letter:
Leaders from Ministry of Railway:
My name is Huang Qinghong, 37 years old from Pengshui Country, Chongqing City. I have been working in Wenzhou City for over a decades. I have only seen you on TV, I don’t suppose I can get to see you ever. But I have a lot to say to you, that is why I wrote this letter. I have no idea where should I mail it to, then I think of the press. I hope the journalist in the press will make this seen.
Today is the 4th time I come to the train station for ticket, just trying out my luck, but still not any. The staffs behind the ticket window told me time after time that tickets for the Internet and telephone booking released days earlier than window, once available, they are always sold out shortly, leaving no tickets for window.
I know the purpose that Ministry of Railway put forth this online thing is to reduce the crowds in front of the ticket window. Now, it is true that there are less people lining up, and you must feel a big relief because now you can get off work early, go home and eat. But for us, the lining up overnight before at least contains the hope of getting a ticket, now, nothing. The more I think about it, the angrier I am, I really want to curse stupid Ministry of Railway!
I am a driver in a hardware factory in Wenzhou City. There are 40 other workmates from the factory also dying for tickets, but none of them know anything about computer. Our boss sympathized us and tried to help us buy tickets online. Failed. It was either out of service of the website or out of tickets. Our boss also said, even if there are still tickets left, we still have to have something called online bank to make the payment. We are factory workers, not white collars, how the heck do we know how to open that? Whoever come up with the online booking idea, are they thinking with their toes.
Leaders from Ministry of Railway, you guys can surf the Internet everyday, you can buy anything you want, but we can’t, we still have to worry about dinner everyday.
We tried the telephone booking too. Every one of us dials in whenever we have time, we calls even when we are eating, but are never able to get through. There is only 1 workmate finally gets through the line after days of calling, he gets a ticket to Jiangxi Province. He was so happy, all of us are so envied of him. Buying a ticket is almost like lottery.
In the years before, as long as you wait in line, you can always get a ticket home, you just have to come early, the competing point is your energy. I always came lining up before dawn. This year, it is different. There is this online booking, it is too complicated for us, not practical at all. In fact, this is very unfair, we are now unqualified for buying a ticket. You can say: “oh, it is simple, you just have to learn to use the computer.” But for people like us who work days and nights, how do we make the time to learn about computer? And how do we afford something like computer?
I have been working in Wenzhou City for more than a decade, I only go home every second year since it is too painful to get a ticket during the Spring Festival rush. Last year I didn’t go home, there was no family around me. The best I could do was making a phone call to them on Spring Festival Eve. I really want to go home this year. My wife went home a month ago for fear not able to get a ticket during the rush. My 60some years old parents have kept asking me when would I get home.
My daughter is 6 this year, I haven’t seen her in a long time, don’t know if she’s taller, I wonder how many words can she read now. The train ticket home cost 190 yuan, while the bus ticket costs 560. I don’t want to take the bus, it costs several hundreds more. I wasn’t generous enough on my daughter before, the several hundreds I save from the ticket can be spent on my daughter then, and that is so much better.
Every year around the Spring Festival, lining up for tickets is already a torturing for us migrant workers; but this year, even if we want this kind of torturing, there is no chance anymore.
You leaders stay in the your air-conditioned office, lean on the couch, smoke some cigarettes, drink some tea then you come up with this online booking thing. Have you thought about us? Have you experienced the pain of buying a ticket. Now we don’t even have the ticket that require tens of hours of standing on the way home, we only have a anger of unfairness without no place to take it out.
Huang Qinghong (Signiture)
Jan 2nd, 2012.