Friday, July 24, 2009

Expat Culture in Taiwan: Even the dogs are smarter

Taiwanese don't drive well. It has got better over the years, but they are still guilty of not stopping at crossing etc. But that is just the way it is, put up with it or leave. Like all things in life weigh up the pros and cons and make a positive decision. Most westerners did but there were a few people who just procrastinated in negativity. Eric was one. Even the dogs were smarter than Eric.
“Look, man even the friggin’ dogs have got more sense than you!” I shouted at Eric, as we crossed the road. On our inside for its own protection was one of thousands of stray dogs that wandered the city. It was a strange thing to get used to seeing, like some sort of super breed of street smart dog, these dogs had learned to use the pedestrian crossing and wait at the lights. In this case, the dog had spotted the car turning right selfishly and illegally cutting across the green man, and had stopped to let it go. Eric of course did not – one arm up, palm out, the other pointing to the green man, Moses-like – and also requiring divine intervention to succeed - he strode against the cars pouring across the crossing. The more mannered or aware would stop at his out stretched hand, but the rest would slam on their brakes and angrily spin the wheel of their car and attack another point in the crowd of pedestrians crossing the street. Anywhere else was fine because almost all the Taiwanese stopped and gave way to the cars. They knew how dangerous, reckless and selfish their fellow man was behind the wheel and they were not interested in arguing. Eric, armed only with his sense of right and wrong, felt that he was scoring little victories, but it was only a matter of time he stopped a group of young guys and then a hospital trip would be necessary.
I pulled him back determined it wasn't going to be when i was there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Taiwanese are most certainly clueless about how to drive. My solution for self defence was to start carrying a walking stick when in the city. You'll see them at Carrefour or sporting goods stores, retractable metal sticks made for hiking. Most become small enough to put in a backpack when you go inside buildings.

Nothing gets a Taiwanese driver's attention faster than carrying something with the ability to break his window or mirrors, or damage his paint job. They know you're there, but it's the threat of damage that makes them stop. Try carrying one sometime and see how much a difference it makes in their attitudes.

That's not to say I actually go out and hit them out of aggression. I've only had two instances where the Taiwanese suffered damage or injury. But better them than me.

The first was an idiot who thought he could turn in front of me, nearly driving through me as I crossed legally at a crosswalk. The pointed tip (which usually touches the ground) made a huge scratch down the side of his entire vehicle. That got his attention alright - he was yelling and screaming about his BMW, but I pointed at the crosswalk and walk signal, yelling at him, and just kept walking. The other was an idiot on a scooter who, again, tried driving through me, except this time face to face. The pointed tip impaled him in the ribs, knocking him over, leaving him gasping in pain as I walked away.

I don't feel the least bit sorry. I don't endanger others and I obey the law. If I'm obeying the law and the Taiwanese endanger my life and safety, they forfeit any concern I normally have for their lives. Drivers like these were a 1-in-100 event at home. Here, civilized drivers are the 1-in-100.