Huáliǎn, aka Dōnghǎi (东海), was our first real department store, and also had the first escalator. We had endless fun watching old and young alike trying to gather the courage to ascend the moving stairs.
One day, as a crowd of burly dockworkers were daring each other to jump aboard, 3-year-old Shannon and I squeezed through the crowd and stepped boldly out where no Xiàmén peasant had gone before. As they watched Shannon run and skip up the escalator, one muscled man stamped out his cigarette, rolled up his sleeves, stepped onto the escalator—and fell flat on his face. Shannon laughed, pointed, and said, “Look at the funny man, dad!”
“It’s not polite to point, Shannon,” I said.“Why not?” Shannon said. “Chinese point at us all the time!”