Traffic co-ordinator lives life in the fast lane of nation's capital
As one of hundreds of traffic co-ordinators in Beijing, Guo Yongqi stands at the city's crossroads. Ms Guo, 38, tells Alice Yan about dealing with the waves of traffic and people on the street.
What is your job like?
I stand at the intersection for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, stopping pedestrians and cyclists from breaking traffic rules, especially people who want to cross on the red light. My work tools are a small red flag and a whistle, and I use them to make sure people stay behind the warning lines marked on the road when the red light is on. I have no power to fine people and can only ask them not to break the rules.
What is the traffic like here?
This intersection is normally very busy and reaches a peak during rush hours. Many people do not obey the rules and we have to stay in position almost every minute. If we go for just a few minutes, everybody will move forward onto the road when they're not supposed to. Sometimes cyclists and motorists will quarrel and even fight over crashes. I can try to persuade them to stop fighting and call the traffic police to come and handle the case.
Do you like your job?
I have been working here for more than a year and I still like it, because my job can make people on the street feel safer. Yes, it is very laborious, and we have to stand by the road for hours without rest or something to eat or drink. The hardest time is on hot summer afternoons. Once about two weeks ago, I had heat stroke. I felt very weak and my face was really sweating, but I had to endure it until the time came to leave my post.
What is the main problem in your job?
My biggest frustration is public misunderstanding. Some people don't understand or listen to us when we tell them not to cross on the red light. They often abuse us when we prevent them from breaking the rules and some of my colleagues have been beaten up. But I can never swear back at them. So I hope the public can have a higher awareness of the need to obey traffic rules and support our work.
Why did you take this job?
I was a welder in an automobile factory in Beijing and was laid off two years ago. I didn't work for a year and then was introduced to this job by one of my relatives.
What's life like for you and your co-workers?
There are 10 people in the team at this intersection, two women and eight men, and our average age is more than 40. Like most traffic co-ordinators in Beijing, we are all laid-off workers and earn about 500 to 600 yuan per month without any other benefits. We all live a poor life and have to cope with a lot of stress. I am an optimistic person, and I want to carry on with this job if I can.