A gift from Hermes

amateur vagrant zhongli taiwan driving scooter dickThe following story is based on actual experiences driving in Taiwan.

Hermes, the most popular of the Greek gods among luxury-brand consumers in Taiwan, saw how the people bought up all his eponymous handbags and belts whenever they felt insecure. He considered what he could do to extend their feelings of self-worth, and decided he would write a self-help book for their edification.

However, he had already RSVPed to a Dionysus’s bacchanal that night and there was no way he could cancel without hearing about it for the next five centuries. He decided that he would go, but also take the opportunity to ask his goddies what words they lived by.

After a few cases of wine, the gods couldn’t stop themselves from giving life advice, they were so full of it.

“You are your own biggest hurdle,” said Zeus. “You’re the only thing in your way. Once you realize that the only thing truly holding you back is your lack of imagination or your lack of willpower, you’ll be able to do whatever you want.”

“Other people’s needs are just an illusion, I suppose,” said Hera. “I need a cigarette.”

“Dance like nobody is watching,” giggled Aphrodite. “That’s also a metaphor about how you gotta work that vajayjay.”

“Drive it like you stole it,” shouted Artemis from the other room. “High-five, Didi!” she shouted, and she ran over and gave Aphrodite a high-five, but then accidentally spilled her Moscato in the goddess of love’s lap. They laughed until they were rolling on the floor, then Artemis farted, so Dionysus told them to take it to the bedroom, or at least out of the living room.

“What you gotta remember is that you gotta look out for yourself first,” burped Ares. “Cause nobody else is gonna look out for you. Don’t let yourself down, man.”

“Man, I’d like to be pithy, but I’m kinda drunk, right now,” said Apollo. “I guess if I gotta say something, I just gotta say, you know, it’s important to take time now and then to close your eyes and just imagine where you want to be.”

“And make your own path to get there,” agreed Hephaestus. “Make your own way.”

“Color outside the lines!” said Demeter. “Life is messy. Embrace it!”

“That’s right,” said Hephaestus. “Fuck the lines! Who needs lines!”

“Don’t let anyone hold you back,” said Hera when she came back in smelling of menthol cigarettes. “I mean, you gotta break omelets to make eggs. Or eggs. For omelets, I mean. But just do it. You can’t let people drag you down with them. Like my husband…”

“That’s what I’m saying, Hera,” said Poseidon, his hand on his sister Hera’s knee. “Just keep moving, don’t stop. It’s like water, man. You can’t stop water. It might take a thousand years to slowly push it’s way out there, but it’ll get where it wants to be eventually. Nothing can stop it, man. And that’s you. You gotta remember, that’s you. You want another glass of wine? You good? I’ll get you something.”

“Just do it,” said Shia LaBeouf. (He wasn’t invited, but he always showed up at the end and took a couple of bottles when he figured Dion was too drunk to notice. D definitely noticed, but he never said anything because Shia usually brought some hot girls to the party.)

“Life’s short and then you die,” said Hades. “And everybody dies. Don’t sweat it!”

Hermes didn’t remember writing anything, but when he woke up the next evening, he had filled a whole page in his notebook. It said:

  • You’re the only thing in your way.
  • Other people are an illusion.
  • Dance like nobody is watching.
  • Drive it like you stole it.
  • Look out for yourself first.
  • Close your eyes and imagine your destination.
  • Make your own path.
  • Don’t stay inside the lines.
  • Don’t let anyone hold you back.
  • You have to break eggs to make omelets.
  • Keep moving, don’t stop.
  • Just do it.
  • Everybody dies, so does death even matter? Does life even matter?

After he smoked a spliff to clear his head, he realized he had written a runaway best seller. He passed it on to his agent with the working title, The Gods’ Guide to Living Your Best Life. His agent shopped it all over town, but eventually they had to go with a discount vanity press who also agreed to do the translation for a minimal fee. A few months after it was first drafted, it was released in Taiwan with the English title, “Hermes’ Guide to Driving”. Hermes was disappointed with the error, but he could only assume that the Chinese translation had been thoroughly copy-edited. (He had tried to study Chinese as an undergrad, but it was all Greek to him.) As the latest offering from Hermes, the book was heavily pirated as a paperback and an e-book, so it wasn’t long before everyone in Taiwan was driving according to Hermes’ words of wisdom.

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Juuuuust in case you think I’m exaggerating, here are the final paragraphs from one of many articles you can find online about driving in Taiwan:

One of the greatest failures of Taiwan’s transportation policy is that it has been unable to establish the social norm of driving carefully and lawfully. Creating a norm that driving unsafely is unacceptable takes a great deal of communication and outreach, but it also has the most enduring effect on reducing crash rates.

A good place to start is at driving schools, where students can pay to take their test in the school itself with help from their instructors along the way. At most driving schools in Taiwan, signage and road regulations are de-prioritized and almost ignored, and graduates leave with little to no on-the-road experience. Problems at driving schools and the lack of attention paid to road safety are demonstrations on a small scale of the challenges that Taiwan faces.

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