What do you mean by, "If you're not sure, don't"?

How do you explain "intuition", or "gut feeling"?

If you're going to do anything in China, you've got to develop your instincts a little. Remember, you won't be in Kansas anymore. Roads, airlines, medical care, facilities and infrastructure are all a little different there. You need to rely upon yor wits more than anything else. And if you never understood what the term "shit happens" truly means, than you had better not go. Let me try to explain.

I had returned to Beijing to make sure that a good friend of mine, who went to the temple with me for a week, left for home in a safe and secure fashion. The day of my return back to Shaolin, found me at Beijing's wonderful new airport, waiting for my flight to Zengzhou. My 8PM flight, which was going to land me in Zengzhou at 930PM, apparently was delayed. So, I settled in for what I thought was going to be a short wait. Not very unusual, in China, or in any other part of the world.

But, it was stormy outside, and the plane that I almost walked onto, at 7PM, was actually the 3PM flight that was supposed to go to Wuhan first, and then return to Beijing, at which point, I was then supposed to get on it for a trip to Zhengzhou. It appeared that the entire schedule had been disrupted by hours. And the reason? Severe thunderstorms.

Now, I'm not a big fan of flying in China, but things have gotten better over the years since they purchased all new Boeings and Airbuses. Flying during the day is not really a problem, just like driving during the day. But at night, on the roads and in the air, I tend to get suspicious. And in a thunderstorm, which was centered over Zhengzhou, and which had completely disrupted the day's flight schedule, I just got a bad feeling. I went with it. You know what they say; "When in doubt, don't". I didn't.

I tried to convince two other English speaking people that were waiting for my flight, that it was probably a bad idea to be taking this 8PM flight, in a thunderstorm, at night, at what was probably going to be 11PM or midnight; especially since, no doubt, the same crew that had been flying all day was probably going to have to continue on with the day's work until they were finished. It was just a bad idea. And the thought of driving at midnight, in some little shitmobile with bald tires, and with a driver who's idea of "being a good driver" was "going faster than all the other bad drivers", just didn't appeal to me. Try explaining coefficients of friction, road conditions, slippage, skid tests, and all the physic's concepts of what happens to two hunks of mass traveling at various speeds do to each other when they collide, to an individual who doesn't really regard his passengers as having any sort of driving experience and who probably didn't get out of the third grade, and you start to get my drift. I decided to take a flight the next day. I figured, and rightly so, that the flight would get cancelled much later that night anyway. And besides, who wants to risk crashing in one of these things? We just don't seem to worry about it all that much in the US. You need to in China.

I found out about it from my CNN email (no, you can't get CNN on the internet over there; it is blocked). A Chinese airliner went down the next day. No details, just a crash, and dead people. I had to email my friends out of China  to look at the CNN site to get the details, which they eventually emailed back to me:

BEIJING (AP) -- A Chinese domestic airliner flying in a thunderstorm crashed Thursday in central China, killing all 42 people on board, state media and officials said. The domestically-manufactured aircraft, carrying 38 passengers and four crew, went down at 3 p.m. in a sparsely populated suburb of Wuhan city in Hubei province, an official at the city's Wangjiadun Airport said. The state-run Xinhua News Agency said all 42 people were killed. It did not mention if the crash killed or wounded people on the ground. The Wuhan Airline plane, a domestically made YUN-7, was flying from Hubei's Enshi county to Wuhan, the provincial capital, the airline said, attributing the crash to a thunderstorm. No other details were immediately available.

The interesting thing about all of this, other than the fact that it happened, is that there was no mention of it in the Chinese television broadcasts.

You just can't play it safe enough. Go with your instincts, and avoid any possibility of trouble. Actually, it was my mother who put it best into words: "When in doubt, don't."

She usually said it, years ago, before she kicked the shit out of me.