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.

14 comments on “Taiwan Tales and Trails (Part 1)

  1. Well, it’s about time! I can’t wait to read about Tawaiin, even little stories like this. You see, I already have a better sense of your life there knowing you take a bus to work and that it sometimes rain and that there are random acts of kindness going on. Seriously, I find these little stories quite interesting.

  2. What a great story! I love it – and I’m looking forward to hearing more of your stories!
    And, really… a musical garbage truck! That is astonishingly creative – i love it!

  3. I really really want to read about those musical garbage trucks–and the convient stores and all those other items that create slices of real lives.
    You invited her into the taxi and she paid the fare –what luck on a rainy day. I hope you all meet again. One thing I like about using public transportation when its available is connecting with people you might not encounter anywhere else along the way of your day.
    I like this piece a lot. I hope you will continue to share such delights.

  4. That’s funny that you were so in sync that you were both going to pay the other’s fare. There are so many little things we can do that don’t cost a lot of money, but make a big difference in someone’s day. Great story!

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