4/13/2010

Teenagers in Our Taipei Parks

Today was my daughter's third birthday. We couldn't really celebrate it in an ideal sense, as both my wife and I had work commitments. We did, however, take Ahleena to an amusement park yesterday in Hsinchu, called Liu Fu Chun. It had a lot of kiddie rides, an African safari and junk food which she enjoyed. We've both got tomorrow off work as well; we'll take her to her first movie. 

Tonight, on her actual birthday, I took her over to the Taipei Youth Park (青年公園), which is five minutes from my apartment in Monga (艋舺), Taipei. It should have been just like any other evening - we go there every night that it is not raining. When we arrived however we faced a certain turn of events. After putting Ahleena on the swing, which she loves, I noticed an old bike laying in the playground. Worried that she, or one of the other children, could get hurt on it, I picked it up and propped it against a tree. A couple minutes later, I was confronted by a scowling teenager in a black muscle T-shirt. He asked me if "I wanted to die," pointing at the bike, which I quickly understood was his. Feeling an old twinge, I said, recognizing something familiar building up inside and my own muscles tightening:

"OK, sure. Is it you that's doing the killing? Let's go." Pulling back, he said he was only joking and patted me on the arm with a calculated grin. Then he went scurrying back to his friends. But I could hear him saying things. Actually, I just thought he was playing around, so I shot back, taking a piss but in a friendly way, like what on earth did five young guys want to hang out in the park for, with no women, etc. Soon he was over in my face again, with his bike, kind of jammed up against the swing set so that we couldn't swing comfortably. He said: "Do you and your 'son' want to die" in English. And then, for some reason, "Here's my bike. Fix it!" My daughter was crying, so I pulled her off the swing and we left the park. As we were going by, he reissued the threats about killing us. In all honesty, I wanted to rip his snotty self some new holes, but decided to let it go. But not really. If I had been on my own, I would have gotten in his face directly. It really got under my skin, but I opted for the police station around the corner. 

When I explained the situation to the police, they said, "Do you have anyone to vouch for you?"

"What are you talking about?" I asked. "They're just teenagers. Just go over there and give them the boot."

"OK, sure. But next time you have to tape it." A friendly officer pulled out his iPhone and showed me how to record. 

Five minutes later, a different cop, pulled in off scooter duty, my daughter and I were back in the park. When we located the teenagers who had threatened my daughter, the officer went after the first black-shirted one he could find. The actual culprit was hanging low, so the officer wrongly charged pretty much the whole gang before landing on the right guy. When I did manage to point him out, the teenager became belligerent. Not that he was arguing my accusations, but rather because he didn't think the cops should be questioning him. He paced around the playground and refused to stand still or make eye contact. He even swatted at them and grew agitated. But the policeman was having no part of his crap, and got right in his face. "Why do you harrass people?" he wanted to know. "What are you doing here? Are you simply bored? Look at you, five teenagers and all."

"He's a 'foreigner,'" was the reply. "I just wanted to know him." 

At this point, I came in. "Just take it easy. And don't threaten my daughter. That's all I care about. I came here to play with her, not you. I don't care about you. That's the truth."

Why on earth would I give a f*&^ about them? Why would they imagine that I had come to the park for other reasons? 

What a sad joke of mess it is when I have got dicks like this threatening my daughter, on her birthday, or otherwise. And for what? 

22 comments:

Terry J. Benzie said...

Wow. I have seen teenagers in parks better suited for kids a quarter their age but never anything close to that. I take it that the police never did simply shoo them off?

Patrick Cowsill said...

I don't know what the final solution was. I never noticed the kids hanging out in the playgrounds before as this is my first child. Needless to say, the cool ones play basketball or tennis in the evening, or stay home to study or practice piano, etc. What we're dealing with here is the dregs. I wonder where their parents are and why they don't care that their offspring are out at ten p.m. on a Tuesday night. On the other hand, if I had kids as obnoxious as these, I wouldn't want them at home either.

Voyu Taokara Lâu said...

That's really a terrible experience. I hope things like these won't effect much when you score Taiwan :P

Actually most kids like those are not essentially evil. I think they just imitate the hooligan languages and behaviors to show off and build up their identity.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"That's really a terrible experience. I hope things like these won't effect much when you score Taiwan."

No, I care about Taiwan deeply, hence this blog. Taiwan gets a top score from me. I know those kids were not terrible. I wanted to go back and hang out with them, to give them an OK impression of 'foreigners', but could not because my in-laws came over to celebrate my daughter's birthday.

Anonymous said...

I think you are asking for it. You have chosen to live in WanHua, the city's infamously worst area. You have chosen to locate your family there. You have chosen to use the parks at night. Sure it's a free country. Sure you have the right to live wherever you want. Sure people should be free of the threat of violence...but the stuff you write about doesn't happen in DaZhi. It doesn't happen in ShiLin or TienMu. It happens in WanHua. I see groups of elementary school kids playing happily in the park on my mountain. I see other peoples grandma's scolding children who are stepping on flowers. I have a safe neighborhood, and know that my neighbors actively do become involved in various situations (like domestic disputes) to keep the peace.

WanHua isn't gentrifying. You are the only one there. Move.

CreditWarrior said...

I like the Ipod video taping idea. Get their violent comments on video. Then, do what I did a few years back and swing a baseball bat into every one of them. Break a few bones. Then, tell them if you ever see them again that you will be the one who does the killing. I guarantee they will leave you alone after that. Oh, and remember, turn the Ipod off before you start swinging your bat. :o)

"Ludigel" said...

Damned, I never know there are teenangers in Taiwan as I have an optical filter in place effectively reducing their image to nothing but annoying pixel flimmer. However recently one especially dumb one was lying on the road in front of my car and wanted to make some bucks by pretending to be an accident victim or whatever, dressed in black at night on a dark road. Thankfully I saw him. Well, I actually thought he would be an injured dog and stopped ;-)

EyeDoc said...

A belayed Happy Birthday to your daughter.

I have yet to set foot in WanHua. Its ill-repute continues then.

May I recommend Danshui, a nice little town for your daughter to grow up in.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"May I recommend Danshui, a nice little town for your daughter to grow up in."

I'd like Danshui too. My wife won't go. She says the air is all wrong, but I suspect she wants to be in the place her folks live in and where she was born. Actually, I don't want to be in any other place either. I need to be a better communicator. For all my griping, I have only had two incidents with teenagers. I meet them every night, and know many of them well now. I told some of them last night what happened and they said "those guys don't represent Taiwan."

Patrick Cowsill said...

"I take it that the police never did simply shoo them off?"

I don't know. They weren't there last night.

CreditWarrior said...

Mack,

This is the second time you've blogged about the terrible teenagers in Taipei-- about how they threaten you and disprespect you and your family. And this is the second time you solicit support and sympathy from your blogger community in response to each incident. And this is the second time you respond to the blogger community with, "I get along with the teens. They're not so bad. I talk to them every night. The teens are cool." And now, you say it's all your fault and that "you need to be a better communicator".

Grow some balls, man! The reason you keep getting attacked is because those "cool teens" you think you are friends with are telling all the other teens that you are a pussy. How old are you now? 40-something? You REALLY think that you can be "buddies" with the teens that hang out in the park at night? That's kind of creepy, bro. It's time for you to grow up and realize that you have a wife and a daughter and that every minute of the day someone might try to harm your wife or daughter-- especially the beligerent teens in the park at night. Protect yourself. Guard yourself. And stop dancing with the god-damn devil!

You think that you are impressing anyone when you say, "I hang out with the teens in the park at night?"

C

Patrick Cowsill said...

I don't hang out with them, but I've got to find a way to tolerate them. I realize, at the end of the day, most of them are as stupid (or even more stupid) as I was at that age. I plan to use that park and it's like swatting at flies and thinking that will make them go away. My dad once told me the sign of an intelligent man is someone who can communicate with others, with anyone. He told me this when I was 13 and was making fun of him for visiting our neighbor, an adult who read super-hero comic books. The advice made an impression.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Plus there is a time to stand up for things. We don't have teenagers in our commons area now. The teenagers that I stood up to on Monday night now know that some people will go to the police when they're acting like retards or that some people really don't find them scary. When the teenager said "do you want to go" and I said "yes" he was speechless. I believe that he only regained his obnoxious form later on to try to regain face, which resulted in a visit from the cops. He thought I was simply leaving and probably joked about it to his friends.

Like I said in my post, I am hanging out with my daughter. Most of them have gotten used to me, a "foreigner," and that is not a negative development in Taiwan. But I do value your insight. It's something I'll mull over. Maybe you're right.

Patrick Cowsill said...

I have thought of another solution - an association of like-minded fathers who take their kids to the park at the same time on evening play dates, who have each other's back and who are serious about taking the play grounds back.

CreditWarrior said...

Hey, that's a great idea. You really SHOULD do that. There is strength in numbers. And you should tell the other parents that you will be the "camera guy" to film anything in case there is trouble. Every time you step outside your fucking door at night you need to ask yourself, "Who might hurt my wife? Who might hurt my daughter?" and then quietly prepare and pretect yourself against all the oddballs out there that you might encounter. Anyone who has trained in martial arts knows this. You should know this.

Don't piss me off, Mack. You know what I will do. If you or your wife or daughter end up in a body bag I swear on my grandfather's grave that I will fly over there and I'll kill the punks Mother, I'll kill his Father, I'll kill all his friends, I'll kill his dog and then I'll cut him into little pieces while he watches me feed his balls to the rats in the alley.

Now, you don't want to make me have to do that do you? Because I will damn sure do it. Those punks scare me about as much as a turd scares the flies you been swatting at.

C

CreditWarrior said...

When my nephew was 3, I took him to the park. Two other dads arrived at the same park with their two sons. The two other boys starting throwing handfuls of pebble rocks at the slide as my nephew was sliding down the slide. I yelled out, "Hey you little shits, stop throwing rocks at the slide!" The two other dads came rushing over to me (they were both about a foot taller than me) and they screamed, "Who you calling a little shit!" I smiled and replied, "I guess I'm calling you two assholes 'little shits' because you teach your sons to throw rocks at other kids in the park." Immediately, the fight ensued. It didn't last long. The last thing I remember was the two fathers crawling on all fours back to their car and yelling to their boys, "Get in the car! Get in the car!" My nephew was still sliding on the slide and he never heard or saw a thing.

You have two beautiful women in your life now Mack. You might as well face the fact that you are gonna have to protect them. If the punks see you as weak, they are like jackals, they will go after your women. Carry a knife. Carry a gun. Carry a camera. Whatever it takes. And don't back down.

C

Anonymous said...

I remember when I was a kid I just wanted to know you too so I did. Sounds like you are doing the right thing setting a good example for your daughter and slowly claiming the park as a safe place for children again.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Carry a knife. Carry a gun. Carry a camera. Whatever it takes. And don't back down."

A baseball bat is my preferred weapon. Just kidding. Thanks a lot for your feedback. I am still digesting.

CreditWarrior said...

For all you bloggers out there, my comment "Kill his mother, kill his father, kill his friends, kill his dog, then cut him into pieces" comes from my favorite Clint Eastwood movie "Unforgiven". It is an awesome cowboy western movie where Clint Eastwood gets his just revenge against his enemies. So, in case anyone is wondering, I'm really not so crazy violent. I just watch a lot of Westerns. Ha!

Kaminoge said...

I know it's none of my business, but perhaps you ought to have a long talk with your wife about moving. While I wouldn't put things the same way that Anonymous did, there must be a lot better neighborhoods in Taipei for raising kids in than Wanhua. My Taiwanese wife says she wouldn't want our daughter growing up there.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Can't move, Sponge Bear. My wife was born here and Wanhua speaks to us.

I went down to the park tonight and had a talk with the teenagers. I did a face-to-face with the guy I put the cops on. It was liberating as I didn't have my daughter to worry about - I could go totally no-nonsense. At the end of the day, though Matt has rightfully called me out on it, I feel good. I didn't feel anything brewing up in me. Like I said, this is the place in Taiwan that I belong in. Like the bard said "There aren't any problems, just solutions."

Kaminoge said...

Fengyuan speaks to me too. I just wish it wouldn't talk so much.