I Am Switching Things Up

I have had yet another troublesome park experience. Last night, a forty-something woman tried to kick my three-year old daughter in Youth Park, Monga (艋舺), the place I live in here in Taiwan.

My first response was to rub my eyes and tell myself I was just seeing things. But I know what I saw. We were sliding. Then my daughter said: "Daddy, I want to swing." As I was gathering up our stuff, Ahleena charged off to the swing area. She was about 20 feet in front of me, and as she ran by the swings, a woman who was on the swings purposely stuck out one of her legs so that it came close to connecting with my daughter's head. When I got there, I asked:

"What are you doing? I saw you try to kick my daughter." The woman simply ignored me and went on swinging. "Look, lady," I said. "You can't swing here. You see that sign? It says you have to be under 12 to swing. Get off." She still ignored me, so I got up so close she couldn't swing. This was enough to set her off:

"Who are you to talk to me like this?" she barked. "This is Taiwan! Who are you to bother Taiwanese people in Taiwan?"

"The sign says you can't swing if you're over 12 years old," I said. This led her into a torrent of abuse, including calling me several curse words. Now I knew my eyes hadn't deceived me, that she had indeed tried to kick my three-year-old. There were some teenagers, as usual, hanging out in the playground. She started to appeal to them, figuring this was an us and them issue, case closed. But they hadn't been paying attention. Some of them even knew me and didn't want to take her side. "I'll go get my wife," I offered. "Just wait until she finds out you tried to kick our daughter."

When I returned with my wife, the woman was sitting next to two teenagers I didn't know. They had also been swinging. "This is the [spinster] who took a kick at Ahleena," I said.

"Why did you try to kick our daughter?" asked my wife. Once again, a "foreigner" having the audacity to question her while standing in Taiwan (even if it happened to be through his Taiwanese wife) was enough to set her off. According to her, "foreigners" didn't respect Taiwan. Take me, for instance. I wasn't following the rules. If I was, I wouldn't be drinking a can of beer in the park. So I asked her, "Where is the rule that says I can't drink a can of beer in the park? I didn't litter it. Plus there are ten other people drinking a can of beer in the park, you old [spinster]."

This is what she told me: "They are Taiwanese. You are not." Did she ask me if I was Taiwanese? No.

"Do you see that sign? It says you have to be 12 or under to swing. What if the swings are calibrated for weight?" I asked.

Again she claimed I was a foreigner who didn't respect Taiwan. She called me an "asshole" in English and said I was "violent" in Chinese. Then, as she was leaving, she said: "I hope you and your family die in a car accident."

My wife has three theories for this kind of attitude:

1. My wife has met older people in Taiwan that simply dislike "mixed" children. They think that it is messing with the purity of the Han gene pool. Plus they figure that they are the offspring of soldiers and prostitutes.

2. There might be people in Taiwan who have stereotypes about "foreigners." These stereotypes lead them to believe negative things about every "foreigner" they come across. That they have not met these "foreigners," know nothing about who they are, their background or their character is of little concern. "Foreigners" are all the same to them.

3. My wife was doing some psychology. She asked me: "Did you see how she called you an 'asshole'"? She obviously understood what you said when you called her a [spinster]. I think she was jilted by a 'foreigner' and now she's taking revenge on our daughter. That could be why she wanted to kick her."

I have opened up this discussion before. People have told me that it comes down to the neighborhood I live in, Monga (艋舺). They say because of Monga's lower socio-economic position, it attracts and creates unsavory individuals. In other neighborhoods of Taipei, people are not trashy. In fact, people can be polite and engaging. And their kids, instead of hanging out in park playgrounds and harassing tax-paying, civic-minded individuals, do old-fashioned things like stay at home and study, learn how to play the piano or join constructive extra-curricular activities.

I just don't want to give up on Monga. I have met a lot of nice people here. My neighbors are nice. Lots of people do line up for buses and do not push each other on the sidewalk. What I have concluded is my karma is bad. I am attracting nutcases like a light attracts flies. One other thing I've concluded is that, as a father, I've had to be extra attentive. In the past, I'd simply read a book or ride my bike, not paying attention to what's going on around me. I have to watch everything now, and sometimes I am not liking what I am seeing.

Tonight, I'm changing everything. We're taking a new route home. We're reading different books. And we're going to a new park and having some completely different for dinner. I'm doing this to change my karma.


Vince Cowsill said...

When you go to the new park and see a lonely, poor, uneducated, resentful old lady, who takes her frustration out on foreigners, smile at her and be pleasant. Do it with everyone you see there. That will help change your Karma.

MJ Klein said...

Patrick, there is no karma. it's a hindu myth.

next time, just call the police and please do tell us what happens.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"When you go to the new park and see a lonely, poor, uneducated, resentful old lady, who takes her frustration out on foreigners..."

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I am thinking it was a brain fart on her part. I bet she wished she hadn't done it looking back now. The part about a "traffic accident" - that's weird if not evil though. For the most part, I am nice to people; this woman crossed the line.

And I think I'll take it for a sign of some sort.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, she's right. You don't understand Taiwanese values. You should probably be skinning conscious animals or making toddlers smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. If so, you could post it on YouTube to show your friends how cool you are.

dennis said...

if i had been there i would've made her cry like a two year old. i have no tolerance for trash like this woman. i do think it is just a singled out case, and doesn't reflect the general, however it still makes me angry and feel shamed being a taiwanese.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"i do think it is just a singled out case, and doesn't reflect the general, however it still makes me angry and feel shamed being a taiwanese."

Nah, I have so many Taiwanese friends. I don't think she represents Taiwan, not at all. As several people have already pointed out, she's just a nutcase. I blog about what's on my mind and that, yesterday, brought crazy woman into focus. And sometimes I do so from the gut, not the brain. I truly love Taiwan and can't imagine living anywhere else. That's why I blog again and again about her history. I want to emphasize it as something that is meaningful.

Thanks for your insight Dennis. It means a lot.

Anonymous said...

My Chinese wife, two children and I have been living/visiting in Taiwan since 1979...there are always drips. It does not matter what their education or income is, they are profound loosers. I've had family members with PhDs in philosophy from Ivy League schools in the US scream about us.

Some of us boomer have a term, Flip 'em off.

Best of luck keep your relation with you wife and daugher strong.

CreditWarrior said...


I told you to stay out of the parks! Besides, the last thing you said was that you were going to carry a video camera with you at all times to record such events. And then you said that you are going to visit the parks only when you are with a group of other parents and children who will support and defend you. Remember, there is power in numbers? Public parks are oftentimes a hang-out for psychotics, homeless and criminal elements. You should either join a private country club or move to the suburbs-- where you are not a moving target.

Personally I think there are people who read your blog and people in your neighborhood that are trying to set you up now. One false move, and you'll be either deported or in a Taiwanese prison. That is what they are hoping for; and that is the trap that you are falling into.

Finally, I'd keep this personal shit off your blog. You are only digging your own grave buddy.


Patrick Cowsill said...

"I told you to stay out of the parks!"

LOL, you know I can't help myself.

CreditWarrior said...

Stay cool, bro. And remember, it's only OK to hit a lady in self defense. Ha!