Taiwan Tales and Trails (Part 1)

taiwan-mapI’ve been thinking for a while about trying to write a few little pieces about Taiwan–some of the things that are part of the culture here that are a little unexpected. Some possibilities include the musical garbage trucks, the real convenience of convenience stores, Taiwanese taxis, public transportation, volunteerism, night markets, day markets, . . . well, you get the idea. Just this morning, I was thinking about which one I would write about first as I was getting ready for work. I had been listening to the rain since we got up, so I was braced for a wet walk to the bus stop.

Since my first class on Monday (and Thursday) is at 8:10, Dave and I left about 7:30 and headed to the bus stop. Amazingly, the rain let up long enough for us to get to the stop without using our umbrellas. On the two days that we leave at 7:30, we always see a woman who works at the university. We smile at each other, and she often lets us board the bus ahead of her, even on days when she arrives before us.

Typically, the bus arrives between 7:40 and 7:50. But this morning, at 7:52 the bus still hasn’t rounded the corner three stops away. Dave and I decided a taxi was our best bet so I could be on time for class. I didn’t know that the idea had already crossed his mind, but when I suggested we invite the woman to come along for the ride, he agreed. I saw a taxi approaching, and I signaled in case it was available. He pulled over as we motioned to her to join us, and the three of us got in; we got in the back, she sat in the front. Interestingly, as the taxi pulled away, it started raining hard again for a few minutes.

I got the money out for the fare, and noticed that she and the driver were exchanging money, so I wasn’t sure what our part of the fare was, but I figured, I’d still get the full fare out. We then all tried to communicate about our two separate spots to get off. She got out first, and the taxi took us to our stop which was just a couple hundred meters further.

The rain had nicely slowed down again, and we opened the door to get out of the cab. When I tried to pay, however,  the driver indicated she had already paid the full fare! Imagine my surprise! Not only that, it was funny because here we were trying to do a random act of kindness, and she turned around and beat us at our own game!

I should say at this point that there are many nice things people do for one another here. I’ve been the recipient of many sweet surprises and favors. But I am still delighted whenever something like this happens, especially when people trying to do random acts of kindness attempt to out-do each other. Maybe I’ll have to find a way to surprise her on a random day.