Beijing is the first truly cold-weather city I've ever lived in. In sunny San Diego and the American Southeast, cold weather is more of a freak occurrence than a daily way of life. I only say that because I don't know if the "mudflap" phenomenon exists in other places beyond Northern China.
Basically, a mudflap is a collection of 6-plus feet long pieces of plastic hung from the door of a store in order to keep the cold weather out while providing enough space for people to actually enter. It actually makes a lot of sense, minimize the air flow through these flaps instead of allowing people to let in huge gusts of wind through a conventional door.
In Beijing, you can never expect anyone to hold open a door to you, and you definitely wont see them provide any more courtesy when it comes to 15 pound pieces of plastic.
So because of this, I was almost "mudflapped" by my own stupidity. Usually I'm in a continuous red-alert mode for crazy taxi drivers, exposed electrical wires, or open manhole covers. But in this instance, I got distracted by my ringing cellphone, while trying to enter Yaxiu market. Whether a premonition hit me or I was just plain lucky, I happened to glance up as the person entering before me pulled the flaps along with them, only to let them fly back towards me with a fury not unlike that seen by hurricane Katrina. Demonstrating something akin to jedi-like reflexes, I was able to dodge the plunging polymer of paraplegic possibilities and share my lesson with you today.
Had there been a small child behind me, I can't say they would have lived after such an impact. I can only thank the heavens we'll never know. So take this as a warning, don't just watch your back...watch your front! And please, be kind to your neighbor, just hold open the flap for them. Only you can prevent mudflapping mishaps from taking innocent lives.