As is my routine, I was flipping through the China Post while munching away on my breakfast sandwich this morning when a greasy piece of cucumber fell out of the sandwich and landed on the center bottom of page 9. As I picked it off the page I noticed the little public service advert put there by the NPA (National Police Agency).
The ad featured a bubble man scratching his head. He is standing next to a maze like they have rats run through. The maze consists of two blocks of maze with an arrow pointing in and then another pointing out the bottom of the maze. The text reads “You need guidance” and then lower in the advert it says “Information for Foreigners Living in Taiwan” and it has an 800 phone number and website.
Okay then, the ad is maybe not brilliant in its originality but it is clever enough.
Then it hit me, the Bubble Foreigner can not escape the maze. If you go in where the arrow points you can never reach the exit arrow which I presume symbolizes escape from the NPA offices or escape with your ARC or whatever. In fact as I looked at it I realized Bubble Foreigner in fact is trapped in a different block of the maze that has No Exit (that would make a great name for an existential novel, I wonder if anyone has used it?) And as an added bonus the part of the maze with the exit has no entrance.
I really, sincerely appreciate the NPA’s truth in advertising. Most government agencies would not have the integrity to come out and run an ad telling the truth to foreigners, which is, Taiwans bureaucratic procedures are utterly fucking hopeless and the only way for Bubble Foreigner to escape is to break the rules (i.e. saw through the walls of the maze, climb over them, burrow under them, blast through them or just stand there scratching their head doing nothing).
I also kind of wondered did the Laobans (bosses) at the NPA look at this ad before they signed off on it. And then I wondered, did some demented real life foreigner (“his mind is clear but his soul is mad”; line stolen from Apocalypse Now) do the ad and slip it by the higher ups.
In any event, great ad.
Bubble Foreigner Brian