Thursday, June 23, 2005

Here's an oddity I never get used to

The building where I work is next to a hospital, so you can guess what the street milieu is like -- emergency vehicles, dull-eyed attendants pushing invalids in wheelchairs, patients with IV tubes in their arms taking walks while dragging carts behind them...

Hmm. I don't believe that in the West I've ever seen a patient on an IV drip take a walk around the neighborhood. Down the corridor, sure. But through the market, where the dogs yap and the flies buzz and the organ meat is laid out temptingly? Over uneven sidewalks, among the dodging scooters? Odd, if you ask me.

Another oddity I never get used to is what happens when a group of Taiwanese people board a train or subway car and engage in that long silly pantomime of finding seats for one another. There's the scurrying, the pointing, the half-hearted defensive measures to prevent strangers from taking open seats.

Myself, I'm happy to help a companion find a seat -- if the companion is aged or pregnant or infirm. But in Taiwan it requires a massive coordinated effort to help Cousin Mei find the open seat that she can see and reach perfectly well on her own.

I think Taiwanese people find the charade a bit silly themselves. You can always be sure that when they play it out, the young women will smile sheepishly and cover their mouths with their hands.


the j said...

Three words: Ice in beer.

Mignon Chang said...

Hey, totally true. Never noticed that myself... enjoy hearing people point out social nuiances.