The Taiwan U-Turn and a Language Acquisition Milestone

The other day started off unusually lousy. Anyone who has attended Shida can tell you how treacherous the elevators at the school are: they close quickly and aren’t very sensitive to stopping when someone hits the open doors button or if they run into someone’s hand or forehead (I only saw someone get nailed in the forehead once). Anyway, on this particular day I got on the elevator without much of a fuss, it was when it began closing on the last person behind me that it nailed her pretty hard and sent her coffee all over my arm. No problem, but I don’t need an apology at every floor on the way to the eighth at 7:55 in the morning.

The intersection near my apartment is just one location where deplorable driving habits are displayed on a daily basis. In the morning, this intersection has a team of parent volunteers to help students cross the road who attend the nearby primary and secondary education schools. When the light turns, they let a few motorists turn and then come from each side with their flags to create a human barrier for the children crossing. As they are walking to block the crosswalk it never ceases to amaze me the number of scooters that will attempt to whiz between the flags and narrowly dodge children running ahead of the crossing guards to get to school.

If you don’t know what a Taiwan U-Turn is, it’s basically a regular u-turn but with zero disregard for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, or whether or not the street is wide enough to complete the u-turn without having to stop and back up to complete the turn.

While buying some delicious curry puffs from a small bakery owned by a couple in my neighborhood I saw an absolutely gorgeous white Mercedes-Benz. I noticed the driver, a man with a woman that was either his daughter or much younger wife. They had a look on their face like they were lost. I began my journey towards my apartment and the intersection I introduced in the second paragraph of this post. The couple was at the intersection asking a man for directions. The light was red and I began to cross the street, out of the corner of my eye I noticed the car moving towards me pretty quickly. I jumped, I would have been safe, but because the car was performing a u-turn. I noticed in mid air that no longer was the car behind me, but rather below me. There was a loud thud, which was the sound of my palm hitting the hood of the car as the rest of my body slid over his hood. It was at this point when I yelled the only words I was to say during or after the incident: 幹麻 [(gan ma) what?]?! If this incident had happened three months ago I am sure the only words out of my mouth would not have been Chinese. I wasn’t very surprised that I narrowly missed injury crossing the street, I have been expecting something like this for a long time, I am more surprised that in this situation my brain sent a signal to produce Chinese instead of English. Luckily, I was unharmed in the incident; I don’t know if I dented his car with my hand, I hope I did.

6 thoughts on “The Taiwan U-Turn and a Language Acquisition Milestone

  1. Frost, I think I scared them, all they did was slowly turn around and continue driving. I didn’t even look back until I had finished crossing the street. I think he could tell by my yell and my clenched fists as I walked off that if he stepped out of his car he would have been eating the pavement for lunch.

  2. I really don’t remember. It’s been a long time (especially since that language wasn’t Chinese).

    I’m guessing you felt kind of conflicted- good that you used Chinese, but still kind of ticked off at the jerk who drove right into you.

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