10/05/2012

Bus Driver Gets Laugh over Old Man Stuck in Door



My wife sent this picture to my gmail account. She explained she and our daughter were riding the bus pictured above on Monday at around 10:45 a.m. when a couple of elderly passengers boarded. They were having trouble coping as the bus had suddenly lurched into traffic. The old man, who was bringing up the rear, unfortunately got caught in the door. The other riders started to shout for the driver to stop, but the driver simply carried on his way. My wife noticed the bus driver was laughing and felt the intent carried a hint of malice.

My wife called the bus company to complain. She pointed out the bus had a camera. "Check the video feed," she said. "You'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It happened between 10:40 to 11:00." To her surprise, the customer rep. asked her:

"Was he a relative of yours?" Translation: a.) What business is this of yours? b.) Why do you care?

My wife said, "Everyone on the bus saw it! What are you talking about?"

I have a couple of questions of my own: a.) Do you think the customer rep. plans to follow up? b.) Has he ever considered that people have it in them to care and do their part as citizens, or does everyone who calls his office simply represent a new form of annoyance?

******

Speaking of traffic, I had an enlightening experience of my own a couple of weeks ago. I had overslept my afternoon nap and was now bustling off to my daughter's preschool to retrieve her. I came to a crosswalk and was waiting for the cars coming the other way to pass before completing my path over it. As the pack sped by, I wiped the sleep out of my eyes. Then, the last driver in the group decided to lean into the horn of his or her black SUV and give me a blast to scare the shit of me for good measure. After the cars had passed, I walked to the other side. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little put off. Why'd the driver have to honk at me. Clearly, I didn't mean to go anywhere, witness the other cars I had just patiently waited for to get on by. Plus, I was standing in a crosswalk. I turned just to say to myself "Come on, what gives?" and noticed the black SUV stranded at a red light 100 meters down the road. I just couldn't resist.

When I got to the SUV, I could see the outlines of two people, the driver and his or her passenger. So I knocked on their window to get them to roll it down. When nothing occurred, I tried again, with more vigor. The window came down.

"Why were you honking at me?" I asked. "What gives?" Inside, I could see one passenger, a skinny, tired out office sort in a shirt and tie waking up from a nap, and the driver, a tightly wound youngish female at the wheel, also professionally dressed. "Why were you honking at me? What did I do?" I asked.

The skinny, worn out passenger had either seen it all or had been quickly filled in as the driver saw me coming up on her entrapped SUV: "You were trying to cross on a crosswalk, but there were no traffic lights. You must stop for cars to pass when there's a crosswalk and no traffic lights."

"The hell I was. I was standing still. If I had tried to get over, I wouldn't be here scolding you. BTW, why would there be a crosswalk for pedestrians if pedestrians couldn't use it?"

"That's the law," he said. "You're a foreigner. Your country is different with different laws." Just to get things straight, I never once told him I was a foreigner. I never once told him that Taiwan wasn't my country. He grabbed that right out of his racist ass. Plus, I doubt he believed a word he was saying. The individual at the wheel just left him out to dry. Several minutes prior, she was leaning into her horn with all the indignation and hatred she could muster. When confronted, she lacked the balls to turn and look me in the face, let alone say a single word in her defense. What a piece of work.

I'm going to close with this. I count myself in the majority when I say I don't know Taiwan's traffic laws. But why would the city of Taipei put in a crosswalk (without traffic lights) if pedestrians didn't have the right of way? The common sense of it tells me that the SUVers were full of crap. And even if such a moronic law exists, making crosswalks a redundant waste of city resources, they were still dishonest.

26 comments:

MJ Klein said...

for the record, all white people are "foreigners" here. even my friend Daniel who was born here is considered to be a foreigner.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Same with my friend David, who was born in Hualien to Canadian parents. He called the government to get his ARC cleared up. The person on the other end of the phone hung up on him. He was speaking Taiwanese; she said, when he explained his situation, that he was a liar because "foreigners" can't speak Taiwanese "like that." To her racist way of thinking, how he spoke Taiwanese meant that he could not be white.

Terry J. Benzie said...

If you find out the laws regarding crosswalks, be sure and post them. I have been told that the pedestrian has the right of way though anybody who has ever been outside knows that isn't the situation.

Jake said...

I remember a recent PSA in which someone was crossing at a crosswalk and a van stopped to let the pedestrian cross and then the van's sliding door opens and who is inside? Why, his excellency himself, Ma Ying-Jeou. The tag at the end of the ad was something like "Pedestrians are always the most important people." Because even the prez stops for them. You may remember seeing it? But ads like this and traffic "laws" are lost on most drivers. It's dog-eat-dog out on the roads.

Patrick Cowsill said...

@Terry -- There are a lot of billboards around now promoting the rights of pedestrians in crosswalks. I know most pedestrians aren't foolish enough to insist though. I don't know about the law about crosswalks at places that don't have traffic lights. But why put in a crosswalk for pedestrians if it still means they don't have the right of way? The only thing I can come up with is this: those crosswalks are funneling places. You can't cross at other places. I doubt the worn out skinny guy had ever bothered to check though. It seemed like he was making it up.

@Jake -- I didn't see that ad, but I'll look for it. Was that after the Central American ex-diplomat got run down in a crosswalk by a taxi driver in Taipei? I was looking for a link, but my google fu isn't that good.

Anonymous said...

It is true, you foreigners complain too much and now your better half picks up your bad habit also. As the matter of fact, our family has had troubles with those foreigners since we arrive this country.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"It is true, you foreigners complain too much and now your better half picks up your bad habit also."

Aren't you complaining right now? And you don't even have the balls to put a name to your complaint.

Some people don't complain at all. That is why nothing ever gets changed or improved.



MKL said...

Dear Patrick,

I have to admit, that you are a quite an interesting guy :) I tried to discontinue reading your blog, but I somehow couldn't bring myself to do so - and I was right to stick around, because I would've missed stories like this one, which always make me chuckle. :)

You know, what I can't understand is, how different we are despite that we are both White guys, who married a Taiwanese woman and moved to Taiwan. Now you must be thinking I am a racist for assuming that we are supposed to be similar, but that's not what I thought at all. I just wanted to mention the vague and minimal similarities between us in order to highlight the issue in your comment section, namely despite looking and seeming alike, people can be very different. Therefore I would never like to be assumed by locals, that I am like like you, just because I am White. And I bet you could say the same about me - after all we are very different and I will go into that a bit later.

What I admire about you is how you just cannot NOT intervene in such situations. It's for me, excuse me my honesty, purely comical, how you so often feel the urge to engage with locals in arguments, how you feel compelled to "make things right" (according to your definition of right) and how you feel the need to moralize and teach the locals manners and so forth.

I also admire your (North American?) definition of racism, which you seemingly apply in Taiwan every day in complete disregard of the fact, that this is very different society and culture from the one you came from. It seems that wherever you go, your norms, rules, etiquettes, standards are the only valid ones and have to be applied and abided to by the locals. Whoever doesn't meet them, is either "wrong" or a "racist", that's my impression from your posts (is it a wrong one?). It's also interesting to read your articles, where you try to interpret Taiwanese history, it always gives me chuckles. :) I also can't forget our comments, where you thought it was racist of me to compare Taiwan and China, haha... That was epic. But back to the main point... (next comment)

MKL said...

My question is: Are you really happy living in Taiwan? I'm serious about this. Because your blog is full of these stories, where things piss you off, where you argue wit locals or lecture them and it's mostly a chicken and duck situation, where at the end you just reinforce all their stereotypes about foreigners and your arguments have no effect on them. In all honesty, you seem to be too confrontational, something that might be ok in the West (not always, though), but very seldom works in Taiwan, especially if you are a foreigner. Why don't you try the Taiwanese way with a fake smile, a low voice, a nod and a bunch of 不好意思s, when you talk to people? In most cases, it may not even be worth to talk to them at all. How about just letting it go? I really don't see the point lecturing strangers, who horned at you on the road. It's strange to do so in my country, but I think even stranger in Taiwan (I assume it's not strange in your country). I live in Yonghe and the traffic is crazy. I would lose my mind, if I cared about those who horn at me, park their big car on the cross walk when I want to cross or nearly run over me with their scooter rushing through the red light. I see this every day on the way to work and I'm just like "meh, whatever". I seem to be the exact opposite of you. One of my most basic rules of living in Taiwan is: I am not getting involved with people I don't know - no matter what - if I am confronted, I don't play hero, I don't claim I am right, even if it's true - I just try to avoid trouble at all cost. I have fared quite well so far. Sure things piss me off from time to time and I discuss them with my wife at home, but in public I have adopted an invisible shield, that protects me from all the nonsense, that goes all around me. No doubt, life in Taiwan is intense, especially in Taipei, which is very crowded. Maybe it's your way to cope with the stress to just react to everything that pisses you off, I don't know. Or maybe it's just your character. Either way, I believe it's not easy for you. I couldn't last too long in Taiwan, if I was as choleric as you. Which brings us back to the beginning: You are you and I am I.

S.D. Stopps said...

The Taipei Times just had an article announcing a crackdown on motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians in Taipei City. (http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2012/09/29/2003543950)

According to the article, laws are already on the books. Fines are between 1,200 and 3,600 NT. The article also notes that the law has not been frequently enforced thus far.

Be wary, though. The article also notes that pedestrians who fail to use zebra crossings can be fined 600 NT.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"how you feel compelled to "make things right" (according to your definition of right) and how you feel the need to moralize and teach"

I've brought it up before with MKL. You are overly serious. Most of the time I'm engaging, it's simply for taking the piss. You can't catch that in my tone; maybe it's because English isn't your native language. Having said that, your English is really good.

Sorry, I can't help myself: You write:

1. "where you argue wit locals or lecture them and it's mostly a chicken and duck situation, where at the end you just reinforce all their stereotypes about foreigners and your arguments have no effect on them. In all honesty, you seem to be too confrontational, something that might be ok in the West (not always, though), but very seldom works in Taiwan, especially if you are a foreigner."

Then you write:

2. "How about just letting it go? I really don't see the point lecturing stranger"

You see the irony, MK?. So now I ask you, how about letting it go? Why are you lecturing me? You don't know me. Actually, I've seen you go bat shit the moment someone has the audacity to suggest your full of it or have a little fun at your expense on your blog.

Once again, MKL, take your own advice and stop lecturing. You just come off as a hypocrite.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Be wary, though. The article also notes that pedestrians who fail to use zebra crossings can be fined 600 NT"

My friend was jay-walking down by Taipei City Hall. A guy jumped out of the bushes and wrote her up, but the fine was only NT$300. Maybe the fines have gone up; or, he wasn't who he appeared to be.

Anonymous said...

I already think MJK is too exaggerated. Hope I can get your answer. I saw before his crazy ability for his blog.

Patrick Cowsill said...

I like being in Taiwan and this is clear based on my blog. One of my favorite things to do is harp on stuff going on here. I never tire of that. Thank God Taiwan provides me fodder to go on and on about, and then on some more

MKL, you seem to be just blowing off steam on my dime, but that is permitted, I suppose, because I don't censor. I was curious about this: you had the stunning and misplaced tenacity to ask: "My question is: Are you really happy living in Taiwan? I'm serious about this. Because your blog is full of these stories, where things piss you off, where you argue wit locals or lecture them and it's mostly a chicken and duck situation."

I suppose a reader or two will come up with MKL strutting his own feathers, talking about where he gets off. I also see a projection, especially after you wrote: "Frankly, I don't feel good. Life's been very stressful last year, but it's gotten worse this year. Most of the stress and unhappiness is related to my job, which occupies 90% of my life here."

I would love to discuss more of your work in the future. You love to say stuff like "I have the greatest blog in Taiwan" on your blog and other such blowhard b.s. I will happily give you the time of day to explain why other individuals are far more compelling than the calculated fluff you offer up.

MKL, you seem to be suffering recently. In all sincerity, I hope you can get through it. I haven't cared for all your whimpering in recent days. Pull yourself together, man!

MKL said...

Hey, you take my comments too seriously. My thought was triggered by your story, which I see as an indicator of a pattern throughout your blog and I was really curious about how you feel living in such environment, where you are constantly seem to be bothered by people's behaviour. I have expected a thicker skin from someone who criticizes other bloggers. It's interesting, that your replies completely avoid answering my questions, instead all you have to say is that I am a "hypocrite", "exaggerating", I am "blowing off steam" and that I am writing "calculated fluff". You have challenged me on what I was writing on my post and I have answered you (no, actually other people have) without insults. You frequently label others as "racists" on your blog or see them as ignorant in their behaviour, but completely disregarding their different history, different cultural background and different communication norms than yours, yet you always fail to explain their behaviour further from saying that they are wrong and you are right. I'm not sure, how your blog posts reflect the real situations, but my comment is related to the stories you write here on your blog. If this is all sarcasm, then you are right, I completely missed it, because English is not my native language. But the way you react in your comments indicates that you are very serious, so I have my doubts. What I question is your behaviour in these stories and for some reason you avoid answering me.

For me, that's fine, you have the right to not answer, after all it's your blog. But at least you could do is use less ad hominem arguments, because they just reconfirm what I was suspecting.

Look, I see you are opening a restaurant in my area. I'll go and check out your Mexican food when you open. If I see you, I'll say hi to you, but please don't put too much chilli in my tacos :)

Patrick Cowsill said...

MLK, things get blown up in writing on blogs -- you know that.

I wanted to point out my humor. I do have a sense of humor, believe it or not. My friends, who know me, can catch it. I speak Chinese, so I have better than you can imagine relations here. At the end of the day, I am critical but am also taking the piss constantly. I don't actually think people on the road should come around to my way of thinking exactly; they should simply be embarrassed for being pricks if that is indeed how they are behaving. I have already explained that it is in my character just to not shut up; again, I must say I am not as serious as you have painted me. I challenge you to find one line in my website that says Taiwanese should be held to American standards. On the concepts of racism, I simply follow the Taiwan Constitution; I haven't brought foreign precepts into the discussion or gone beyond the letter of the Taiwan Constitution (to tell the truth, I can't make heads or tails of the US constitution or legal system).

You're more than welcome at my new restaurant. Point yourself out to me and there's a beer on the house for you.

10/10/12

Anonymous said...

Not saying either MJK or PC are right, but given the situation, it's really personality that defines if you're going to go ape-shit or slinker away. Neither can be considered right or wrong as both have their merits of why they do what they do.

Anonymous said...

The criticism of the writer of this blog here actually made me respect him more. Too often, I come across saccharine comments about Taiwan written by expats. It's good to know there are people who can still be critical. Taiwan is a nice place, but it shouldn't be immune to criticism, especially callous and ignorant behavior. All those blanket comments of how Taiwanese are the world's nicest, friendliest, cuddliest people need to be balanced by criticisms when pertinent such as the situation the post describes.

CP

Patrick Cowsill said...

Thanks CP. I've been here for ages. I have a degree in Taiwan history from a local university. I have learned Chinese and married a terrific local girl. I am investing here as well. I honestly believe, and have brought it up continuously, that criticism is good. If I didn't care, then why would I say something? Maybe I'd just slinker away as suggested, and protect my own skin.

Readin said...

""That's the law," he said. "You're a foreigner. Your country is different with different laws." Just to get things straight, I never once told him I was a foreigner. I never once told him that Taiwan wasn't my country. He grabbed that right out of his racist..."

What are the odds that a white person in Taiwan is Taiwanese? I'm guessing it is pretty slim.

Had you been carrying cigarettes in your pocket and someone assumed you were a smoker even though you were just carrying them for a friend, would you be upset?

Had you been pushing a baby who was wearing pink and someone assumed it was a girl, would you have been upset?

In a place like America where we had high levels of immigration prior to the 1920s and have had high levels of immigration again starting in the 1960s - this time from all over the world, and have allowed most immigrants to become citizens, it makes sense to be upset with someone who assumes you're not American based on your skin color.

But you're in Taiwan where they don't have the same history or the same laws. If someone makes an assumption based on the odds, it doesn't make sense to get so upset.

If you want to call the passenger or driver "racist", call them that for selecting you out as someone to honk at. Do they honk at everyone? I doubt it.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"But you're in Taiwan where they don't have the same history or the same laws. If someone makes an assumption based on the odds, it doesn't make sense to get so upset."

The point is this: I am sitting here with the Taiwan Constitution on my desk. Which laws have I projected on Taiwan that are not Taiwan's laws? Really, give me one instance and I will shut up.

The driver doesn't know Taiwan's laws, obviously. The passenger immediately started to lecture me nonetheless. Why do you suppose he did that? I am guessing, as I already explained, he did so based on my skin color and not the letter of the law; I made that quite clear in the post. His response doesn't really seem to offer another explanation.

I am simply calling out bigots and telling them to get stuffed. I've done it before, and imagine I will do so in the future. That it grieves you that people call bigots on their b.s., and that you take the time to scold them for doing so, is something you should work out for yourself. Lots of people, see my blog, are of a similar ilk in this regard, and back me up.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Let me reiterate, Readin: which American law have I imposed upon Taiwan that is not a Taiwanese law?

Readin said...

You've imposed a history on Taiwan that is not Taiwan's history. Whatever Taiwan's laws are now, in the past the laws have been very different.

But even in terms of current law, is it just as easy for someone to become a Taiwanese (or ROC) citizen as it is for someone to become an American citizen?

Is anyone born in Taiwan automatically a citizen? Can any citizen sponsor relatives to come to Taiwan and become citizens? Is anyone who lives legally in Taiwan for 5 years eligible to become a citizen?

Regardless of the law and the history, what are the odds? If you pick 100 people of a given race at random in America, how many on average are citizens? If you pick 100 white people at random in Taiwan, how many on average are citizens?

How many years as a permanent resident

Patrick Cowsill said...

I think you are operating on assumptions about who I am, based on my cultural background, and then have assumed that if I don't agree with some sort of b.s. that has gone down, I am simply imposing foreign values. I've asked you to back it up with something concrete, which you have not done.

"You've imposed a history on Taiwan that is not Taiwan's history. Whatever Taiwan's laws are now, in the past the laws have been very different."

Where? I did my MA on Taiwan history, so I'd be interested to see where, on what exact points, you think I've gone awry. Once again, what part of Taiwan's history are you talking about? Do you mean the Ching Dynasty? I think I've done a reasonable job on my posts on Taiwan history, but that's just me. I've had a few other people disagree as well with it. Usually, they figure there could be a political angle or something like that.

Thanks for reading.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"But even in terms of current law, is it just as easy for someone to become a Taiwanese (or ROC) citizen as it is for someone to become an American citizen?"

Last time I checked (2009), around 10,000 Taiwanese become American citizens on a yearly basis. Around 100 Americans had become Taiwanese at that time, in total. The conditions are a bit different. Americans must renounce their citizenship to become Taiwanese while Taiwanese do not have to do the same. I am sure the latter has all kinds of hoops to jump through, but figure it's worth it while the former might not agree with the benefits to be gained v. surrendering their US passports. Having said that, it could be easier for an American to become Taiwanese -- it probably just depends on what you value, etc. The answer would have to be pretty subjective....

There are tons of people in Taiwan from other countries now. I think the stat for transnational babies is something like one in five. One of the things that interests me on this blog is Taiwan's ever-changing identity.

John Scott said...

"....But why would the city of Taipei put in a crosswalk (without traffic lights) if pedestrians didn't have the right of way?"

It is stating the obvious (for anyone who has spent time walking or bicycling in any city in Taiwan), but the answer to that question is that you would be assuming too much to think that there would necessarily be any relationship between the act of painting the crosswalk stripes, and the way that drivers react to pedestrians either on or off the crosswalk.

It comes from a mindest by which it is considered 'advanced' to set up 'modern' laws, rules, procedures, etc., but without setting up the concrete framework to actually enforce or follow through. It is caring about the (superficial) form, but not the (real world) function.

Same with the 'bike lanes' that Taipei city set up. What's the point, if people are still allowed to park and drive in them?

Taiwan is a country where personal car ownership is still a recent-enough phenomena that it still confers a certain level of social status (contrast this with places like Canada, France, etc., where even working-class people have been able to own some kind of car or truck for several generations already).

What this means in practice is that the driver (because he/she owns a car) is in all situations more important that the pedestrian, and so is not expected to extend any courtesies. The pedestrian (whether on or off a crosswalk) is simply expected to jump out of the way if he/she wants to avoid injury.

I'd like to know how many drivers have been fined for not yielding to pedestrians!

I think the signs I have seen in bigger cities in Taiwan that say IN ENGLISH "Pedestrians have right of way" are actually a bit dangerous, and should be removed.

Sooner or later some recently-arrived foreigner is going to get hurt by assuming that they actually do have 'right of way'.