Receiving A(nother) Random Act of Kindness in Taiwan

chinese-ink-painting-the-year-of-goat_439-2147504703As most of you know, my semester here is 18 weeks and goes from September all the way through the traditional “American” holiday season. So between November and the end of our semester in the first part of January, we have one holiday – January 1. I taught on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, as well as the days surrounding them. While it’s a little crazy DURING that period of time, it’s nice when we get to late January and early February because then we get our break before returning for second semester at the conclusion of Chinese New Year.

During the break, I have been doing a new routine, combining my daily walking (to the coffee shop) with a task list so that I can begin to catch up on things that got behind during the textbook project. I get work done AND get my regular exercise time in–walking to the coffee shop and walking back home again at the end of my “workday.” In the morning, I try to get here as close to opening as possible–10 am. Departure time could be as early as 6, or as late as 9:30 or 10 pm.

Last night, it was in between those two. Dave came to walk me home between 7 and 7:30. We headed on our usual route, and waited at the stop light that led to our neighborhood. After we crossed, we noticed someone behind us walking in the same direction. She was carrying a hot beverage cup. (Of course, I like to think it was coffee, but it could have been something else.)Β  πŸ™‚

Anyway, as she passed us, she turned and said, “Hello!” as in English, as in initiating the greeting herself. In general, people are quite friendly, particularly if I greet them first. However, I usually greet in Chinese. So this was a little unusual, but very welcome. I returned the greeting, as did my husband. After she walked ahead and turned on a road to the right, we turned left onto our road. Dave asked me, “Is she one of your students?”

She wasn’t. But the reason he asked me is because it isn’t uncommon for me to have students (past and present) see me in different locations, and run up to greet me. This woman was just friendly, not crazy.Β  πŸ™‚ So we continued walking down the last block before crossing the last street to our apartment building, holding hands, because we’re funny that way. Suddenly, we heard someone coming up behind us from the beginning of the block and a voice calling something. We stop and turn to look, and it’s the same woman we had seen on the other street. She had come back to the main roadway where we had seen her and then found the road that we had turned down.

more cakeShe handed me a small bag, much like the one in this picture. She told us they were cakes, and they were for us. I thanked her profusely, and she smiled and walked away. Dave and I were a bit dumbfounded. These lovely cakes are cooked in a griddle with wonderful goodness cooked inside. My favorite are the ones with a custard filling, and the other one I’ve seen often is red bean (sweetened). But at that moment, the really super great thing about the bag of cakes is that they were still warm. My hand was very happy with its new hand warmer.

Dave and I smiled all the way to the apartment, marveling at this lovely random act of kindness. I hope we see that woman again, but more than that, I hope she knows how much we appreciated her thoughtfulness. When we got home, there was one more surprise. I noticed that the filling was dark, so I assumed a red bean filling, but it was raspberry! So yummy! And unexpected. A sweet surprise to endΒ  our Friday evening.

Thank you, Mystery Woman! You made our day!  ❀


16 comments on “Receiving A(nother) Random Act of Kindness in Taiwan

    • Us, too! It’s not the first time something like this has happened in Taiwan, but it doesn’t often happen in the evening like that in our neighborhood. What a delight!

    • Thanks, Willow! It was really sweet. I don’t think I could have smiled any bigger. I hope I run into her again sometime. I’d love to have the chance to get to know her. πŸ™‚

    • With the neighborhood I was in, she would have known that we were established here. But many people are appreciative of the foreigners here who are helping to teach English. Gestures of gratitude are not uncommon. But it was just so surprising to have her come back and find the road we went on and make such an effort. It was delightful. πŸ™‚

    • Me, too! I love surprising people with them. So it was really fun to be on the receiving end. Not that it doesn’t happen from time to time, but this was particularly nice. πŸ™‚

      • Over here people would be too suspicious, it’s not something that happens that often so I tend to limit mine to giving seats to strangers, smiling at random people, helping them with bags etc.

    • It’s interesting, because some people look askance at foreigners, but on the whole, people here appreciate that we are willing to come here and teach. Many of them find a variety of ways to show that. I have a student from my first year of teaching here that still sends me a gift on teacher’s day every year.

    • Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s one of the things that is a pleasant cultural difference. And then there was yesterday, when we stopped for coffee at a local shop, and they didn’t charge us.

      But yeah, if people want to do something nice for you, you can pretty much trust that it’s really ok. If they aren’t benevolent, they tend to just avoid you entirely.

    • Thanks, Ellen! It still makes me smile over a week later. I hope I encounter her again. I’d love to thank her and tell her about this post. I was so surprised that evening, that I didn’t think of stuff like that. πŸ™‚

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