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Armed police soldier likes being a babysitter

THE leader of the 50 armed police soldiers responsible for security and order at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion waiting area said he often feels more like a babysitter than a soldier.

But that's just fine with him.

Li Fengtao, 32, said he and his team like being considered babysitters because it sounds friendlier and nicer than just being a soldier.

Li and his team are important members of the Expo workforce as the Saudi pavilion is one of the most popular attractions. The line to get in usually extends more than 400 meters and people generally wait a minimum of five hours to get inside.

Apart from ensuring the safety of visitors and preventing people from jumping the queue, the soldiers also try to make the visitors feel more comfortable during the long wait and help them with problems such as leaving the line to go to toilets.

"Sometimes, I will suggest people go to the United Arab Emirates Pavilion," Li said. "I heard that the movie is quite similar, but the wait is only three hours."

Despite this tip, Li cautioned that he has not been to either pavilion and that he only repeats what he has heard from other visitors.

The 50 soldiers are divided into two groups and each works every other day. They work the whole day when they are on duty.

Eight soldiers are assigned a group of 200 visitors. Four stand at the front of a group and four stand beside it to handle requests for help. They remain with that group until they enter the pavilion. After the group enters, they are then assigned another batch of 200 people.

When a visitor needs to use the toilet, a soldier writes on the visitor's Expo ticket, allowing him to return to the line to his original position.

Some seniors who feel uncomfortable can also "report" to an officer and get a ticket signed out to leave the line for a rest. They can return when they feel better.

The soldiers have also sent many suggestions - including installing sunshades and electric fans - to the organizer to improve conditions at the waiting area.


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