Sometimes I'm gobsmacked by Taiwan. Sure, the drivers are bad and the cha bu duo can get a bit irritating, but the level of honesty here never fails to astound me.
Last night I went to the Carrefour in Taipei city to grab some toiletries. It's not often I can do this, as I'm pretty skint, but I had a little extra cash from work I've been doing on the side.
The place was packed. I mean PACKED! Gadzillions of Korean, Japanese and Chinese tourists stocking up on bulk pao mian.
I bustled my way through the teeming hordes and picked up some deodorant, soap, shaving gel and a bag of ridiculously inexpensive disposable razors. Oh, and some bulk pao mian.
I eventually get to a cashier, narrowly escaping being crushed underfoot. She rings up my stuff, and then stops at the disposable razors. "These are two for the price of one", she says. My head buzzes. There's no way I'm navigating that maelstrom again for a free NT$59 pack of razors. I'm like "Nah, don't worry about it". But she insists. "They're two for the price of one!"
Now, the queue of impatient tourists with their bulk pao mian is building, and starting to seethe. I'm writhing uncomfortably. "It's fine", I say, "I'm not going back to the swarming pits of hell". She's like "No worries, I'll sort it". She whips out her phone and takes a picture of my ultra-cheap bag of disposable razors, and forwards the photo to someone, with a message.
"Go pick them up on your way down."
This takes a few minutes, thus the angry mob behind me are starting to meticulously plan my imminent lynching. Terribly vexed, I hurriedly beat a retreat, and sweating profusely, make it down to the second floor.
As I get there, there's a pimply young student part-time dude waiting for me with my free bag of bargain disposable razors.
That cashier works long hours, in a hectic environment. And she's probably on minimum wage. She didn't have to do that. She could have just rung my sale up and let me get on my merry way, but she insisted! She could even have kept the bonus bag of damn knock-off razors for herself.
But that's anathema to most Taiwanese people.
Another case: My mate ThreadKiller
, in a rare state of inebriation, lost his wallet; important cards that are an utter pain in the ass to replace, and a few thousand in cash. A few days later he goes to the 7-Eleven and the cashier hauls it out and gives it to him. Totally intact.
It's a really shitty job, working at the Seven: long hours, minimum wage, on your feet all day. That person could have easily kept what would be a fortune to them, but it didn't even occur to them.
Yeah, Taiwan has its shortcomings, but the good really outweighs the bad.
Oh, and I bought the wrong pao mian.