A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune to run into Andy, an old friend, who I worked with for a very long time.
He related to me a story that I had forgotten, but might serve as a cautionary tale for all half crazed newbee English teachers to Taiwan.
We had employed a Canadian-Irish guy called Patty. Pat was a pretty funny guy for the most part, but he was more than a little pent up and trouble followed him as night follows day.
He hadn’t been in Taiwan long when we first employed him so his Chinese ability was rank. He was up to, “Dwo hsiao chien?” But the numbers left him cold. Andy had arranged him a teaching gig at a company in Chungli. He could take the train to the station and from the station he had to take a taxi. Because at that time taxis outside of Taipei generally had but didn’t turn on their meters, Andy told him the fair should be no more than “yi bai quai” (100nt).
When Pat arrived at the station he hailed a taxi driver who unbeknownst to him turned on the meter (probably for the first time in the history of Chungli). When they arrived at the company the driver turned his head and said, “BaShir quai. Syi, Syi.” (80nt, thanks).
To which… Pat flew off the handle. Indignant to the point of protruding veins on his temples, and spittle forming on the edges of his mouth, he started screaming at the driver, " Yi bai quai. It’s yi bai quai. You deceitful piece of Chinese shit. Yi bai fucking quai.!" He then got out of the cab and waving his hallowed 100nt note by the front passenger window, he spat on the ground, dropped the 100nt note onto the glob and rubbed it in to the dirt with the sole of his shoe, all the time repeating, “It’s yi bai fucking quai.”
Pat then stormed off to his class with steam clearly visible rising from his form. 10 minutes into his class the front gate guard arrived at the classroom door with one of the personnel managers and asked if Pat would come to the front gate to sort out some kind of misunderstanding with a disgruntled taxi driver who was refusing to move his car from in front of the gate until that foreigner came and picked up the 100nt note and handed it to him personally in a civilized manner.
As Pat walked back to the taxi, he had to pass almost the entire staff of this company as they waited totally pissed off at this taxi driver who for all its worth was going to strike at least one blow for human decency and his own personal dignity.