Monday, November 1, 2010

Mothers, old people and their scooters

Taiwanese mothers and scooters
“I saw the kid go into the air and hit the car window,” said the wife after finishing throwing up. We had just witnessed a motorcycle accident in which a father was missing a daughter and a wife.
The woman in question had of course not been looking when she came out of the lane at speed assuming there would be no traffic on the 10-lane road. It wasn't the first time. Mothers on scooters are one of the most tragic thing you will ever see - Sat bolt upright, one or two children riding pillion, they never look anywhere but straight ahead, ignoring completely the inconvenient presence of other traffic on the road. Perversely the more children they have on the scooter the more dangerously they drive: usually one or two; three means they are unlikely to get through that day. Under constant time pressure - after finishing work, they rush desperately to get their kids to evening class – hence two kids, means two schools and more danger – then get home in time to cook the parents-in-laws' dinner, while deep down the stress is stirring feelings of unfairness: if my husband can’t afford to get me a car, then he is not working hard enough; if his children die on the road, it is his fault and with that she declares defeat in the daily battle to manage everything. She decides the consequences for her of not getting the mother-in-laws dinner are more painful than not looking at the other traffic on the road and she ploughs on ahead.
School gates are the worse place in the world to be stuck around school finishing time as thousands of like-minded mothers: dragged kids onto scooters, let them down again when they realized they were not theirs, picked them up again after they fell off the back, and then picked everyone up when the scooter in front of them, that appeared not to be in the way was. All this, like baby turtles rushing to the sea, just to get into the traffic and be the first statistic of the day.
“Hao dao mei. (So unlucky),” sighed the wife. As usual luck dealt someone a cruel blow, forcing them to plow across the road blind past a parked van.
Old people
Old people are really different when they are driving: they actually do look first, but still pull out - which kind of makes you begrudgingly respect their absolute selfishness and lack of respect for anyone else on the road. Case in point (almost everyday). An old man was coming down the wrong side of the road slowly in my direction so I applied my horn in a manner that would get me the 10 years for disturbing the peace in the west. The old man looks up reluctantly because he knows he is driving down the wrong side of the road in my direction, and is selfish not stupid; he stares blankly, sees he is not going to be hurt just inconvenience me and the whole road. He then slows down even more and eases himself across my path into the parking space that he was going to park in whether the rest of the world existed or not. I duly applied my brakes hard and hoped the car behind didn't run over me.

No comments: