How many times have you been talking with someone, especially from another country, and asked the question, “Oh, I know someone in [country]. Maybe you know them. Their name is [name]!”
How many people live in Canada now? I think the last time I saw any census results, there are something like 31,000,000 people living there. Here in Taiwan, there are over 23,000,000 people. Hell, here in Tainan, there are over 750,000 people!
Unless you come from a little pup-town like Granton (population 365 (about 25 years ago), Yee-haa), even then, how is it possible that you would know each and every person in your town or city or even country??
Back in 2002, when I was beginning my move to Taiwan, I had done a little research (well, actually a lot) about Taiwan. I discovered at that time, that there were over 10,000 foreign teachers teaching around Taiwan. The greatest contingent of teachers is actually from Canada.
Anyhow, I can’t tell you how many times over the years, that I’ve been asked the question above.
“Oh, I have a friend in Canada. Maybe you know them. Their name is Dave.”
Uh huh. I mean, Canada is such a tight-knit country, that each and every one of us 31,000,000 people all know each other. We’re all good friends.
I remember a few years ago, one of the beer brewing companies, Molson I believe, had done a series of funny commercials on T.V. One was about a person who was working for a company in the U.S.A.
A conversation was struck up between this person, and one of the ‘American’ people at the company. It went something like this:
“Oh, you’re from Canada?” says American.
“Yes, I am,” says Canadian.
“Oh, I have a friend in Canada. Maybe you know him. His name is Dave,” says American.
“Dave, yes. Oh, sorry. He died,” says Canadian, as he walks away.
I always thought this was very funny. I also marvel at the intelligence of the average American citizen when it comes to our country. They think that just because we live in Vancouver (for example), that we know people in Toronto. Do they not realize that the distance between Vancouver and Toronto is the same as that between Los Angeles and New York?
Well, the same thing happens here in Taiwan. People figure that all the foreigners all know each other. With over 10,000 foreigners in Taiwan, and all coming from various countries around the world, such as Canada, U.S.A., Australia, and South Africa, the chances of me knowing ANY of these people is remote at best.
In the 10 years I have been here, I only know or know of or have known about 8 foreign people. Three were/are from South Africa, one American, and four Canadians.
As I’ve mentioned several times in my blogs over the year, my main purpose for being here is to teach. As well, I do have a lot of hours, and most of the places I do work, I am the only foreign teacher. I know OF the people who may have worked in the position prior to my employ, but I do not KNOW them.
I don’t go out on Friday and Saturday nights to the bars to drink with the foreigners. My classes begin early in the morning, and being an adult in my (ahem) 40’s, hanging out with 23-year-old teachers who only want to get drunk and watch the soccer matches, is just not my thing.
Now, you ask yourself, why is he chatting about this. Well, yesterday, as I was heading out for a bit, I noticed a car parked in a strange way on the lane where I live. Have a look:
Now, looking at this photo, all you can really see is that the car is parked at an odd angle. However, look at the bumper. It is scratched and dented. Now, have a look at this picture…
Now, since I am not privy to what exactly happened, or why this vehicle is here, let’s just say, I can assume what happened. As this was a holiday, the person was probably a bit drunk, driving a bit quickly, and ended up hitting something, hitting it hard enough that it actually bent the front wheel!
Well, while I taking photos of this, one of my neighbours comes over and asks me if I know whose car this is.
Oh yeah. Of course I do. Again, there are over 750,000 people in Tainan. I know exactly whose vehicle it is!! Then, she proceeds to tell me that it was a foreigner. Again, since there are over 1,000 foreigners in Tainan alone, of course I know!
For god’s sake people. What is the matter with you? What kind of idiot would even ask this type of question? Just because I’m a foreigner, and the person was a foreigner (apparently), that means that I MUST know this person?
The thing is, especially with Taiwan people, and I have seen this happen more often than not, you ask this question of a Taiwan person, and chances are they DO know the person.
People stay in contact with each other over their lifetimes. Often, people will introduce me to others as former classmates, lived in the same village, or a relative of some sort. Makes me wonder sometimes…
That’s it, that’s all… for today.