BEIJING (China Daily Show) – Local resident and all-round ‘nice guy’ Mike Gutteridge has been caught behind a Chinese couple walking slowly hand-in-hand down Dongzhimen Wai Dajie for nearly three days, concerned friends say.
Gutteridge (pictured, right) became trapped behind the languorous couple on Tuesday after leaving a nearby 7-11, where the NGO worker had been purchasing magazines and snacks for his girlfriend, who was believed to be at home with a slight fever.
Due to the narrowness of the pavement, exacerbated by an unbroken line of illegally-parked government cars that stretches the length of Beijing’s main thoroughfares, Gutteridge has proved unable to get past the tall, nebbish man and his short, introspective fiancee, both walking at an almost-imperceptible pace in front of him.
Friends report that the softly spoken Gutteridge is now effectively trapped behind the pair as they continue their glacial trajectory, stopping occasionally to cuddle, argue or gawk at a nearby billboard or small animal.
“He could possibly get by, but that would involve jaywalking, and Mike has a deep-seated inability to break the law,” said housemate Tom Baldwin. “He’d rather die than give a loud and pointed cough that would clearly indicate to the couple that they are hindering his progress.”
But time may already be running out for Gutteridge, who is faced with the stark choice of either waiting for the couple to enter a building, finding a cab nearby that will pick him up, or slowly dying of starvation.
“Me, I’d have pushed them out the way by now,” said former colleague and self-confessed “asshole” Brian Figgis, of Oakland, CA.
“But Mike’s so unassuming, he can barely speak above a whisper, much less angrily barge past muttering curse words when some dick is holding you up by hogging the sidewalk, walking at a gnat’s pace, when you’re in a goddamn hurry to buy some chips.”
Witnesses say the couple are currently involved in a dispute over housing arrangements for their upcoming marriage, and are pausing in their journey to conduct the argument publicly.
“She’s standing, arms folded and looking away,” a bystander informed China Daily Show by telephone, “while her boyfriend is attempting to make her look at him by kissing her cheek and pleading in a low whine. I think she may be a Beida student. I can’t quite tell.”
Gutteridge was said to be standing at a respectful distance behind them, checking his watch and sipping from a depleted energy drink. Sources report that he looked dangerously thin.
This is not the first time a foreigner’s excessive politeness has caused problems for themselves or others.
In March 2008, genial Englishman Malcolm Havers caught typhoid fever from a housewife, after the latter coughed directly into his open mouth while the businessman was standing in a lift. Havers nearly died after refusing to seek medical treatment that might be considered “disrespectful.”
And according to Chinese court documents, an unnamed American guest politely directed a team of black-clad ninjas to Room 1605 of the Lucky Holiday Inn, Chongqing municipality in November 2011.
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