Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taiwan girls: Josh and Maggie VII

Josh and Maggie had really took a turn for the worse.

I had already arrived at his house because Josh thought of me as a good negotiator. He then called John for other reasons.

“John, I am in big trouble. I need your help.”

“What has she done now?” said John.

“She is on my roof threatening to jump.”

“So what the fuck do you want me to do, catch the bitch? I am more tempted to push.”

“No, I have called her father…” said Josh.

“Hmm,” said John. He cancelled his afternoon’s students – 4,000 NT and he couldn’t reschedule either because his schedule was already full - and put on some old clothes. He was regretting his - admittedly self- promoted - reputation for being good with his fists.

From now on when I meet anyone, I am going to flap my hands, and tell them how I live my life in a wafer-thin paper bag, he swore.

Josh’s building was one of the 4 storey terrace ones; this style was the first wave of buildings around the city around 20 to 30 years ago, and still the most common type of apartment. Most foreigners lived on the 4th floor -- the word for four in Chinese sounds like the word for death so Taiwanese don’t want to live there, making the rent cheaper.

“You are only on the 5th floor. Maybe, she just have a couple of broken legs and you’ll be gone before she can continue her obsession.” Suddenly we all had the terrible thought of her speeding down the road towards him on crutches.

"Fuck it is hot up here. Do you have any sun cream? - Sorry,” said John. He thought he had better shut up: the bright sunlight on Josh’s face was exposing a pure shade of white that Dulux would pay a fortune to patent.

First the father arrived and stood over the other side of the roof then the police arrived with their negotiating team. Once they arrived, enlivened by an audience – and someone to stop the fight - Maggie’s father sprung to life.

“Look at my daughter. That bastard wai gwo ren (foreigner), break her heart. Fucka yu! Fucka yu.”

“Who is her boyfriend?” asked the negotiator.

“Ex-boyfriend - I told her I was leaving,”said Josh staring directly at the father.

"He is upset you know. You fucked his daughter and now are leaving,” said the policeman.

The policeman turned to John.“Who are you?”

“I am here to do your job,” answered John.

“What did he say?”asked the policeman. And at this point the father swung for Josh and John was called upon to demonstrate his point, catching the father’s flailing arms and locking them both behind his back -- During the martial law era the police developed a reputation for over zealous use of force, and the reaction to this was to impose on them minimum force regulations, that made it impossible to do their jobs. The news was filled every night with police trying first to break up fights with kindness talking the aggressor out of continuing to punch someone in the head; usually as long as the victim didn’t seem to be in actual danger of dying the police would continue with this tactic. John sat the father down on the other side of the roof and he got the message he wasn’t going to be able to give his little performance.

Maggie would have been down quicker, but the arrival of the cameras meant a bigger show was necessary in order to save face - It took 20 minutes of her mother and father begging her on hands and knees, but that was not what she wanted. Finally, because he didn’t want a dead person on his hands, Josh gave her the apology she required for lying to her and wasting the last year of her life – and she finally came down.

“You know this is Taiwan. You can’t do that to girls,” shouted the reporters loaded questions as they followed him down the stairs. He wanted to say, but I told her I was going to leave, but he didn’t have the energy any more.

“Duei bu chi (sorry),” was all he could muster as he slammed the door to his apartment and eventually they went after ringing the doorbell for 20 minutes. The irony was he didn’t intend to leave anymore.

For the next week, as there always was after an incidence like this regarding foreigners, there were programs every night about foreigners shagging, two timing, gang banging and then dumping Taiwanese girls. In one such program, a scantily clad young reporter with a hidden camera went into the typical western bars, chatted up drunken men and invited them to a hotel. When they said yes, she had her indisputable evidence of that they are about nothing and nothing else. But it would only last a week, enough time for the backlog of stories regarding: Taiwanese men and mainland prostitutes, politicians having affairs, and Taiwanese on Taiwanese violence to become un-ignorable.

Josh went back into his apartment, and turned on his notebook to try and calm himself down. He would be winding up the company soon because he was going to Nepal for two months and then he had that brokerage job. He should be trying to pass the business onto someone else…he had tried, but the reaction was always the same: that is a lot of money. People seemed to think he was just going to give it away. He would give it to Eric, or John but they didn’t want it.

He looked down the list of clients in his email, then he opened that excel spreadsheet of clients, projects and money earned. He looked at the last few months. Acer had been a client. Taiwan’s leading technology company had used him on numerous occasions to write their brochures, marketing reports, and press releases. He had learnt a lot about their company; marketing in general. So much so they made him sign a confidentiality agreement. He was tired of just brushing up the English. He would like to be the man doing the research. He would like to be the man getting together a product proposal. Technology field was the future. He already enjoyed sales. He had been surprised at the start because such a big company should have already employed a foreigner full-time to do that job. He had asked and although they had offices all over the world, it was the Taiwan head office, filled with Taiwanese, which was responsible for handling production of English brochures. They could send one of their western employees back to Taiwan, but they wouldn’t take the pay cut, and the company wouldn’t pay them their American salary. Acer was no good because they had already had enough people in foreign branches to handle their marketing. If he went to them he would be stuck writing manuals. But there were smaller ones trying to grow their business in North America and desperately in need of the knowledge only a foreigner could give them. He had worked with some of them too. There was the first line of his resume – To increase sales in your North America market. He had worked out how to continue forward with local companies. He could fill that gap. It was an excellent opportunity to get marketing experience.

It was a pity, he thought.

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