What did we witness happening yesterday morning in Chinatown?
January 17, 2013 11:52 AM   Subscribe

What did we witness happening yesterday morning in Chinatown? We were walking down Pell St. at about 10:30 am, when I noticed a large crowd huddled around one of the storefronts. It was about 20 people, all of whom looked to be locals, most if not all of them older folks.

I tried to get as close as I could to see what was going on, but stopped short of pushing my way into the crowd (didn't want to be rude in case it was something personal). I did manage to get close enough to see that the crowd was gathered around a woman sitting in a chair, and in the few seconds I was able to see, it looked like people were handing her cash in exchange for small pink slips of paper. I wasn't able to see whether the paper had anything printed on it. The crowd was very eager to get to her, as if they were afraid she might run out before they got to her.

Any idea what this could have been? Local lottery? Tickets to something?
posted by jbickers to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
Last time I checked, a number of the Chinatown buses leave from over there. I wouldn't be surprised if the pink sheets were chits for the bus.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:54 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is a long tradition of older women serving as shamans and diviners in Chinese folk religion. Chits of paper in exchange of money would also be consistent with some sort of divination practice.

Odd that there was a crowd.

But I study religion for a living, and constantly overinterpret such things. It could also have been bus tickets.
posted by reverend cuttle at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2013

Yes, the Chinatown bus tickets are often pink, I think Admiral Haddock has it.
posted by phoenixy at 12:11 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmm ... these appeared to be much smaller than the results in that image search - 1 inch by 2 or 3 inches, tops. Could still be bus tickets, I suppose?
posted by jbickers at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2013

nth bus tickets. I took the Chinatown bus once and it was like this. The craziness you describe is part of why I didn't take it again.
posted by sweetkid at 12:20 PM on January 17, 2013

Chinatown is the home of several super-cheap long distance bus companies, with Fung Wah Bus being the granddaddy of them all.

You can take buses from Manhattan's Chinatown to other Chinatowns in Boston; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; to various cities further afield; and to casinos in Atlantic City.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's totally the Chinatown bus. Possibly this one.
posted by whitneyarner at 4:28 AM on January 18, 2013

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