The doctor in me never quite goes away, and even though I’m off-duty in Shanghai, I still notice odd afflictions, undiagnosed diseases and hidden illnesses as I walk the streets and look into faces on the subway. It’s in the blood, can’t help it. But even a half-blind First Year would have thought there was something strange about this street scene.
Standing at a pedestrian crossing near the fabric market on Lujiabang Lu, I noticed this old fellow apparently slumped in the seat of his motorbike. You will have no trouble recognising the contraption around his neck as a Philadelphia Collar, a device to stabilise the neck after it’s…..broken. Or maybe he’d just had an operation and the specialist put it round his neck so he wouldn’t lick his stitches. Who knows.
From his slumped appearance, I wondered if his spinal cord had finally, you know, finally kinked, and he’d lost use of his arms and legs at the traffic lights. Tragic. His hands got stuck in his pockets right at the moment C5 stopped sending signals for good.
I am pretty sure, from a doctor point of view, that when this guy broke his neck, and was finally released from hospital on the condition that he wear the collar at all times and rest, his spinal specialist probably had something kind of more horizontal in mind. Napping at the traffic lights while sitting astride a motorbike is probably not the kind of rest he was thinking of.
I needn’t have worried though, it turns out he was just catching up on a few zzzs, like all typical Shanghainese drivers do at traffic lights. As soon as the lights turned green, he woke with a start, twisted that collar around fully 360 degrees til it was comfortable, and then sped off into the distance. Not once looking back. Or left. Or right.