Monday, June 25, 2007

Working hard, or hardly working?

Really, I have no idea what people who work in offices in Taiwan do because I've never been in one. But the Taiwan dream is kind of to own your own business and be your own boss, and people are actually proud if they don't have any employees because then they get to keep all the money for themselves. So you'll have several generations working together to run a food stand or something.

But there are a lot of food places, scooter shops, etc where people just never seem to do anything. They never get much business and the owner will just sit there watching TV all day. On my street there is a place that sells Mah-Jongh sets and he is open from 10 am to 10 pm but I have literally never seen a customer in his store. I know they must come sometime but I've been walking by this place for six months and I've never seen one. And there are lots of places like that.

Also people will randomly open up and close down stands. There was a laundry place where they do your laundry for you right around the corner from my building, and one day it was locked up and two weeks later it was an ice cream parlor. So weird. It had been a thriving laundry place. Or there will be a block with 3 not-very-busy fried-food stands and then someone else will open one up at random.

Also most local places don't keep set hours- just randomly one night, they'll be closed, if the owners feel like having a night off.

There's also a weird lack of efficiency at most places- McDonald's is no more or less efficient that in the US, but MosBurger is crazy- I order a normal thing right off the menu- no extra this or less of that- and even in Chinese, and it takes one person taking the order with another person hovering over their shoulder helping, a fevered conversation with the kitchen, two people to cooperate to pour my drink, and who knows what happens after that while they're making my food. It's just so funny- like, don't you have some system established to do all of this? Papaya Milkshake Man is the same way- they basically sell papaya, apple, and weird gross fruit milkshakes, and offer strawberry milkshakes and mango and watermelon juice depending on the season. And only 3 people ever work there. So you would think they could do it in their sleep but it's the same thing- measure the fruit, look at it, put in the milk, look at it, blend a while and watch it blend, then walk across the shop to get some ice, then watch that a while, then back across the shop for a little water, watch it for a while then shut off the blender so you can contemplate getting a cup. It's just kind of comical.

No comments: