Its been almost a week since I last updated. This is because a) I don’t find it that interesting to write about the minor trials and tribulations that occur in my life here, and b) during the time that I am not procrastinating, I’m actually quite busy with assorted tasks.
So. I meditated about things average daily things that happen around me and decided to write this up as a story.
Taxi – Cab Conversations
Last Friday night I was leaving a club where I was drinking with some Chinese friends when I ran into a Russian woman friend from Toastmasters, whom was very drunk. I convinced her that she should go home and we took a cab together (side-note: a) this girl and I often take cab together from Toastmasters meetings because she lives in the West side of the city like me, and b) I don’t usually suggest girls go home just because they are drunk…that would be condescending…but this girl was drunk and looking to get into a fight with the next foreigner who didn’t treat her with more respect than drunk decadent foreigners in bars usually treat local Chinese girls. My Russian friend has an Asian face because she is ethnic Mongolian, and this is seems to be the source of many of her mental problems)
So getting back to the story…on the way back to her place, she started calling the Taxi driver stupid because somehow the driver was not taking the most direct, efficient route possible (although I didn’t give him an exact address because I’m can’t read street names very well…and she didn’t give him any directions) The Taxi driver had a sort of Rodney Dangerfield voice. “Hey…that’s not nice. Young lady, you should show more culture level. You know? I’m a human, even though I drive a taxi.” My friend started yelling something about how she is not a Chinese girl and will not be made a fool of. When she got out of the cab, I apologized to the driver:
“I’m very sorry for my friend’s behavior. There was no excuse for that. She is drunk. And angry at some guy. And she is Russian…Russian and Eastern European girls are fudging nuts. More crazy than Shanghai girls actually.”
The driver replied, “She is not OK. You know why she is not OK? Because she is from a socialist country! That’s why! Socialist countries are no good!”
Oh no. Now I’m going to have a political argument at 2 AM on the drive back to my apartment.
“Where are you from? You are American right? I know. Americans are great. American’s are confident. They don’t get crazy like people from socialist countries.”
“Well, other taxi drivers have told me that America acts very rough-shod / arrogant”.
“Yes. But that is how it should be. America is the most powerful country on Earth. They should be arrogant. They fix things. They should cooperate with others, but no matter. They went to fix Iraq. I have no problem with that. Saddam made enemies with Bush and so he got what was coming to him. You know what? Socialist countries are always countries where disaster has struck. I have objectively analyzed this extensively. Countries that are rich, that have no problems…they don’t become socialist! This is why socialist people have problems. They are people who have been hurt. And therefore, are not OK.”
I was wondering if he is going to completely flip out. He was very agitated.
“But China has made alot of progress over the last couple of years” I said, trying to focus on the positive.
“Yes. But we have a long road to travel. Thankfully we are on that road, because of Deng [Deng Xiaoping]. JiangZemin, Wen JinTao, they are all not OK. No vision. Deng had Vision. He say that we need capitalism. But our problems are so big.” He stops the car. I’m getting really nervous. “Did you know that those people in the North, they have no food to eat, so they sell their blood. Their blood! Do you understand? And because of this, they got AIDs?!!!” (in the last two weeks Chinese media has finally started talking about the problem of AIDs in China, and the story of the million people infected from transfusions in HeNan province has aired on mainstream media. The media does not report the long cover-up of this story…but I think Chinese people assume it was covered-up like SARs)
He started driving again before I had a chance to bail out. “And our banks. Your American banks are strong. Really strong. The people who run our banks make lots of money, but the banks don’t make any money!! Do you understand? The banks don’t make money!”
“Yes, I understand. Actually, my biggest problem is with pollution. I have this cough that won’t go away and I think its because of pollution”.
Of course. China is an industrializing country! When America was industrializing, you had lots of pollution. Same here.”
“And what about Taiwan?”
The driver all of a sudden became thoughtful. Did I push him over the edge? “Taiwan. You know…Taiwan…its just best for everyone if they don’t separate from China. You know? No one can benefit from it. You know?” We arrive at my apartment building. He gets out of the car and opens my door as if he is a chauffer. I get out, ready to run. He shakes my hand “Thanks for listening to me. You are a good American. Not a socialist country citizen. That will be 43 Yuan.”