March 16, 2010

Hello.  Well, this morning I’m going to take you on another journey.  I must also stress to anyone reading these posts, I do not intentionally set out to knock anyone down, unless they’re idiots.  Language barriers aside, “… people are the same, wherever you go …”  This is tale that started about a week ago.

Do you know the story of “Chicken Little”?  If so, I will give you a couple of minutes to explain it to the wee folk.  I’ve added a link to the theme from “Jeopardy” to play while you tell the story.  Take note… there are several versions you can play (from YOUTUBE), choose the one you like.  However, like the show, you only have 30 secs. to explain this story.  If not enough time, replay the song…


Okay.  Everyone is up to snuff…

Last week, Tuesday I believe, we had a very strong windy day.  It was so strong in fact, that my umbrella that should be on my picnic table, securely attached onto my railing with WIRE, was the cause of ‘the sky falling’.  Yes folks, I made the heaven’s open, and the world collapse for an elderly Chinese couple last week.


I in my first class of the morning.  I have driven in, so I know what the wind is like.  Around 9:00 am, I get a message on my iPhone… “Ingrid called in emergency that a neighbor said to mom that your umbrella fallen down to their roof & made a hole ?”  Okay, so, give the kids some work to do, tell them I have an emergency and must make a phone call.  I call back.  I have 9 different phone numbers listed on my iPhone for Ingrid.  Finally, at number 7, she answers.

She is in a panic.  She’s huffing and puffing like she’s just run the Boston Marathon.  But I’ve come to discover that this is Ingrid’s way.  When something is wrong, and it involves ANYONE other than her, she huffs, puffs, tells how busy she is, how little time she has, why she can’t talk right now… but, if it’s in HER interest, she’s got all the time in the world.

Honestly, it sounded like she’d been running AND crying.  She was telling me that (in the space of 4 or 5 minutes), that Daniel’s mom had called to her many times about the neighbour’s roof falling in.  I ask, at this point anyway, as calmly as I could, “Was anyone hurt?”  “No.”  “Was anyone killed?”  “No.”  “Then what’s the emergency?”  “Your umbrella fell off your roof, and hit the neighbour’s house, and the roof is falling in.”  “WHAT, oh my god!  Um, can you call Mr. Jiang to come and fix it for them right away?  He speaks Chinese, I don’t, and I won’t be home until noon.”  “Oh, I have so much to, I don’t have a lot of time, the people are bothering mom…”  “Can you please have someone call Mr. Jiang to fix the roof for the neighbours.”

After asking and yes, getting more and more upset, and starting to YELL at Ingrid, it finally got through the phone line that I was willing to pay for the damage and to have the roof repaired.  I did doubt though, that an umbrella, falling 3 floors, could possibly bring down a roof, but, that’s what I was told.

She said she’d see what she could do.  Fair enough, I’ll look at it when I get home.

12:00 (ish)

I return home from my classes.  I look out my window, and this is what I see:

At the bottom of this picture, you can see my toe of my shoe.  I enlarged this photo the the largest that this site can handle, so you can see the extent of the ‘roof falling in’.

The following pictures are when I knelt down to actually take close up pictures of this disaster.

Okay, for someone sitting watching T.V. having their coffee or, which is probably more likely, sleeping, the noise of something falling from 3 floors may have sounded like the sky was falling.  Had they taken a couple of seconds to look at the damage, they could have avoided a lot of tense feelings on everyone’s part, particularly mine.

I get home, expecting the worse, and what do I see, a hole no bigger than my hand!  No roof caving in… no damage to the building or support beams, which by the way are thick 1/2″ metal work… and someone has already installed a temporary piece of plastic.  Why, I’m not sure, but later it was something about rain?  There was no rain.  Oh wait, I think I counted 15 drops later on that afternoon.

Nonetheless, while I’m taking the pictures, the woman who lives in the house, starts yelling at me in Chinese.  Looking at me, you’d know that there’s probably a good possibility that I don’t speak Chinese.  I look at her, and apologize.  She yells louder.  I ask her to stop, I don’t understand.  She starts, literally, screaming and waving her arms around.  I look at her, then, I YELL!!  STOP, enough, I cross my hands in the international symbol for stop, I put my palm towards her and say stop, then I cross my arms and yell at her to stop.

Then, the husband (I presume) gets in on it.  The two of them are now both sounding like birds squawking.  I can’t understand anything, not that I could really understand Chinese anyway.  I just look, take a couple more pictures, turn around and climb back into my home.  I call Ingrid.  Again, it takes about 4 or 5 different numbers before I got one she would answer.  I explained what it looked like.  Meanwhile, the husband and wife can still see me, and are yelling so loud, that I can barely hear Ingrid on the phone.

Please Ingrid, have Mr. Jiang come over right away.  It’s just a little hole, he could probably have it fixed in about 10 minutes.  She tells me that it will cost about 2000nt (about $65 Canadian dollars).  Now, I’m not poor, but I’m not about to throw my money away either.  We’re talking about a little piece of plastic.  I can go to the hardware store and pick up a whole sheet of this plastic, not fibreglass, PLASTIC, for about 200nt.  It should take no more than 10-15 minutes to replace the one sheet.  I think the neighbours were thinking I’d replace their roof for them!

Then she puts me on hold.  I wait for about 5 minutes, time ticking away, and hang up.  A while later, Daniel calls me in a huff now, because, well, I have no idea why.  I tell him that everything, as far I knew, was okay.  It’s not as bad as he’s heard.  All I want is to get this fixed.  Now, from the time this happened until this phone call, a little over 3 hours has passed.  There’s been no typhoon, no rainstorm, no snow, no sleet, nothing that would warrant a panic.  The temperature at 12:00 was a balmy 17C.  Considering that there are no heaters in Taiwan, and it is very unlikely that they actually heat this back room anyway, there would be no need at 17C.

Over the next few days, I get phone call after phone call after phone call.  The neighbours are bugging mom every couple of hours.  They come to my home and ring the doorbell.  The yell up and down the street.  I can almost imagine what the neighbours must think of me.  I’m this white foreigner who refuses to fix the roof.  All mom would have had to do, was tell them the worker has been called and will be there as soon as possible.  But no, nobody does anything that intelligent.

Finally, weekend is over.  And probably the lady a couple doors down has already heard the tale of woe and that’s why she was pissed about Eloise.

Monday, I get home from school at noon again.  I look out the window.  Now, this woman must have been standing in her window just waiting for that odd chance that I would look out.  The roof STILL has not been fixed.  The workman were supposed to be out on Friday.  I paid an agreed 800nt ($25 Canadian) to have it fixed.

My thinking now is, they just wanted the money.  I look out, and this idiot starts screaming again, not yelling this time, screaming.  It sounded like someone who had just witnessed their loved one being gunned down in the street.  She is crying and I can’t understand anything.  I call Daniel.  What is going on?  Why is the roof not fixed yet?  Explanation:  the workman didn’t show up, and we don’t know when he will, and …  DANIEL, stop.  Call Mr. Jiang and get him over here NOW!  But… NO, NOW!  I’m tired of this going on for so long, and I’m getting tired of listening to this woman screaming at me all the time.

Half hour later, the workman replaced the video.  If you wish to see the video, go to my FACEBOOK and search for a video called THE SKY IS FALLING – THE REPAIR.

As of today, things seem a little quieter around this part of town.  Finally, I can get some work done.



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3 responses to “March 16, 2010

  1. Bilbet

    You poor soul. Now you know full well what some tenants are like. I can relate to your experience really well after 27 years of listening to the same ridiculous caring ons.

    The smaller the problem the bigger the issue.

    You will just have to learn Dad’s solution – Smile and Nod. Might tick them off but makes you feel good.

    Nice article.

  2. Pat

    I agree smiling will drive them nuts. Act like you think they are telling you how much they adore you

  3. We have delt with things like this for many years when we were supers of apt. buildings. If it was something that was caused by the owners or their represenatives, then all hell broke loose. But if it was the tenants fault, aw, don’t worry about, the company can fix it. Smile and nod. Drives ’em crazy!

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