I’m back in Taiwan and basically paralyzed from the waist down. Somehow, at the tender age of 28, I’ve managed to pick up a knack for tossing my back out while doing practically nothing. Worst of all, this stinging sensation is just one of many recent pains.
I got home two nights ago around 11pm and found that my neighbors, Good Samaritans they are, decided not to help me water my plants. It wasn’t really a shock, considering the plants had it coming to them. I’m an agricultural serial killer.
So, yeah, the plant thing didn’t really bother me. But then all the other things that I hadn’t really noticed or thought about before leaving started to soak in. Like shower gel, or bath soap, or whatever it’s called now. My lather-creater was empty. Found that out as I was trying to wash 18-hours on a plane worth of other people’s dead skin and fart molecules off myself. Empty.
In fact, my whole house had this eerie Goldilocks feel to it. Did I really leave it like this? I kept asking myself. Maybe so. Maybe I did leave that one peach on the table. Or maybe not.
Day two starts off with a bang. Turns out my scooter, my darling dearest don’t-know-what-I-was-thinking-buying-such-a-nice scooter, must have been knocked over (again) while I was gone. I doubt anyone would try to steal it, since I had enough locks on it to scare Houdini. But I am sure the blaring alarm finally pissed someone off after sitting there for almost four weeks.
I would have thought nothing of it, too, except for when I went to pop the seat and found it completely empty. No helmets, no rain gear– they even took my fluorescent pink and yellow winter gloves. I mean, damn. (Seats sometimes pop open when a scooter falls.)
So, now I’m stuck. No helmet. No helmet stores around. It’s 8:45am. No helmet stores open. After scrambling around like an idiot, I walk into my downstairs 7-11, where it’s like Cheers, to ask one of the dudes behind the counter if I can borrow his. He’s a nice guy and let’s me take it for the morning.
Then I get to school and the head teacher is all over me about the upcoming graduation play… for our kindergartners. For those who don’t know, it’s a big thing here in Taiwan. I’ve revamped and personalized a version of Grease for my class, condensed down to about 7 minutes and minus all sexual innuendo. I’m pretty pleased with it, and the kids know it by heart. But, because my school is too cheap to spend the extra couple NT to rent wireless mics, we have to record it and then have the kids mime the play. Yeah, kindergartners going all Duran Duran up on stage. It always ends in disarray, with one kid just way off and a whole lot of confusion following suit. Poor little guys.
On top of this, my boss/manager/friend/peer tells me that they love me so much they want me working afternoon hours next semester… or I will have to find another job. They want me to quit my 18hr/wk job that gives me an ARC to work 16hrs/wk for them without the visa. Ummm….?
I leave there, riding home for lunch. Foooooof! 7-11 Dude’s crappy old helmet manually unlatches itself and flies off my head going over a bridge. Bridges are death traps on scooters. They’re two-scooter-wide straightaways that young punks treat like F1 tracks. I have to pull over to the side, narrowly avoiding certain death, throw my scooter on its kick stand in the middle of the road, then sprint through traffic picking up the pieces of 7-11 Dude’s mangled helmet. Awesome.
I get home. I find out my afternoon school is in total disarray per usual and has not scheduled me for any hours this week. Awesome. I’m broke(ish). Awesome.
I go over to the school to talk about it. Boss isn’t around when she said she would be. Check. Really on a roll now.
Day three. Head to school, all is going well. I stay during and after lunch, dedicated teacher I am, working on the kids’ background for the play. It’s cool; it’s coming out well. I’m on the ground crawling all around, bent at all odd angles. My Taiwanese co-teachers are chatting idly behind me about what type of tea they want to order. Do I want a tea? Would I like some tasty refreshment while I am squirming around on the floor getting all Bob Ross on a flattened out fridge box? Well, damned if they care.
3 o’clock rolls around and I am at a good stopping point. I decide to call it a day, head home… in the hurricane. Yes, a hurricane arrived during lunch, well after I would have already been home. So, there I was, driving back over that damned bridge in my new helmet and new rain jacket, once again trying to cheat death on my two-wheeled chariot-to-the-afterlife.
I make it home. No keys. Keys are at work. But of course they are. So, I’m back on the scooter. More rain. Rain in my face. Rain down the back of my neck. So much damn rain that it is actually seeping through this new thick plastic raincoat– which I didn’t even really know was possible. It’s working it’s way past the elastic, up my sleeves to my elbow. I am reminded of the old Shel Silverstein poem, “O gee, it’s up to my knee. Oh my, it’s up to my thigh.” Except this was water and not a snake and all the water was slowly making it’s way down to the areas you never want puddles.
“Oh heck, it’s up to my neck.”