| I walked out into the murky half-light that passed for daylight in Chungking and got into a sedan chair. My luggage was piled up in front of me and on my lap, and the coolies started straight up the side of the cliff, like mountain goats.
I have never gone through the phase experienced by most Europeans in China when they first see rickshas. I was always ready to admit that it was shameful to be pulled around on wheels by another human being when I was just as able to walk as he was. But, I said, why balk at a ricksha when you are doing just as much harm in every other way, merely by living like a foreigner in the overcrowded country of China? The shoes I walk in have been made by sweated labor; the shoemaker, beaten down by my bargaining, takes it out of his workers, and so they are being exploited (by me) just as much as the ricksha coolie is. The only difference between the shoemaker and the ricksha coolie is that I don’t have to watch the former during his travail. The same goes for the farmer in the ﬁeld, growing my rice, and the little boys in the kitchen, my favorite restaurant, and the workers in the coal and salt mines. And so, because I want to go on wearing shoes and eating meals and using coal and salt, I use rickshas too, without wasting time in insincere pity and oratory. But those chair coolies got me down.
They breathed in loud, stertorous gasps before we were halfway up to the first zigzag in the road. I saw how their shoulders had been warped into great lumps from the carrying poles, and their legs looked foreshortened and squashed with all their muscles, from being pressed downward. We hadn’t gone very far when I yelled at them to stop.