Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scooter Irritations

I am really not into motorized transport. Like I just can't picture myself driving a car in the US. It's not so much driving as buying one, putting gas in it, getting it insured, dealing with it when it breaks down. If I didn't drench myself in sweat when I ride a bike I wouldn't even have a scooter here. Today 3, no, 4 annoying things happened because I drove a scooter.

Today I stopped to get gas. It used to be pretty annoying to get gas but that's a whole other post but I've mastered gas station Chinese so it's usually OK. It's all full-service so I pull up and get a crazy-looking man. I say "92, fill it up," and he starts speaking English. "Where do you come from? 92!" (in English). I try to be polite and finally I say, "Your English is really good." He asked how to say "fill it up" in English, I told him, and all of a sudden gas started overflowing everywhere and I was like, "Be careful!" He apologized and then charged me $150. More than my scooter every takes. I said (in Chinese) I think $30 is on the ground and he just wasn't having it. I figured it was easier to pay and extra dollar US than argue. Then I asked if there was a hose I could spray it down with because I didn't want to sit on gas. He gets a window-washing rag and starts wiping it. I mimed a hose because I don't know how to say hose in Chinese, I asked if I could wash it, another guy came over with a paper towel. Finally I rolled it over to the bathrooms where another worker was hosing them out. He let me use the hose and then offered me the rag he'd been cleaning toilets with to dry it. Uh, thanks, but no thanks. Today was a big day for burning ghost money and I just didn't want to drive a gas-soaked scooter by so many fires, you know?

Then, I always park on the alley behind work. One side has a white line (OK), the other has a yellow line (not OK but not the really bad red line) but I have parked on either side for almost 2 years and never a problem. I get ready to go home and, oh, a parking ticket. My first one ever. The only thing I can read on it is $2000, which is over $60 US and like 1/3 of the cost of my scooter. Hopefully that is not really the fine. I'll find out tomorrow.

Then some guy walks up and asks if I speak Chinese. I figured he wanted a tutor or language exchange and I got ready to politely rebuff him (also a whole other post) when he asked (in Chinese) if I could give him a ride to his car. I said sorry, no. He said, but you don't know where my car is! and started walking closer. So I'm thinking, he's about my size and I don't want to get into a physical altercation. I said I really can't.

He said, what if I give you money? I said, you can go on the main road and take a cab. Then, he started crying and said in English, "Please help me!" I said (in Chinese), you'd better ask a man, or a Taiwan person. I just started to get on my scooter and he just walked away! Crazy. I didn't really feel scared at any point (usually there are lots of people walking and driving on that alley) so all was OK.

The last thing is minor- I stopped at the store and put my helmet in the basket on the outside of the scooter and a couple of drunk guys walked by and one put it on and said "Look, I'm an American!" (how does he know I'm not Canadian?) I was in the doorway of the store and happily my new book taught me how to say "That's quite enough!" and that made him put it back. But now I have drunk guy cooties in my helmet. Yuck.

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