i finally did the thing
the thing that i have been low-key worried about for more than a decade
because driving here is dangerous and sometimes terrifying, and because when i get scared i get angry, and when i get angry i lose my temper
and when i am riding a scooter or a bicycle, my temper tantrum involves swearing and distributing “the bird”
yesterday i was riding my bike to school. i was actually feeling pretty good because i’d had a good writing session, i had a nice lunch waiting for me, and i’d gone to the bank and got some stuff done. and here i was about to be well early…
the light was green at the end of the alley so i started pumping my legs because i didn’t want to wait for the red. and i was just hitting the intersection–yeehaw!–when this fucker honked at me. the car behind honked at me and was trying to squeeze out of this narrow alley ahead of me.
i was already feeling like man i better hustle to make this light but i also better be prepared to stop in case it turns red cause i don’t want to be in the middle of the intersection when these cars start moving. so i was already on high-alert, already hustling, and this fucker honks at me.
where was i supposed to go? all i can do is keep pedaling, and now i feel like i am pedaling for my life because a car is chasing me.
there’s no where to go. that’s driving in taiwan. there’s no bicycle or scooter lanes, or if there are, cars park in them. cars double park. caretakers push old people in wheelchairs alongside the double parked cars. grandmothers on 50cc scooters go slower than me on bicycle. pedestrians dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge their way down the roads because the sidewalks are blocked with parked cars and scooters. there’s no where to go when someone honks.
so i flicked her off. i held up the middle finger of my left hand and took the turn wide because this cunt was making a left, too. this dick was trying to mow me down just to make the light.
and then she turned into my school. it’s just right there. i had finally done what i had been afraid i might do: i flicked off a parent from my school.
i was still so scared and mad though that my first thought was “i am willing to get fired for this.” and “if i go down, i’m going down hard.” so i rolled into the lot right behind her and took it slow, glaring at her the whole time.
i imagined the stupid meeting the administrators would organize, where i would sit and sip tea and pretend to be ashamed of myself and recite a statement prepared for me by my boss and have to listen to them talk about me in chinese like i wasn’t there or couldn’t understand, about how foreigners have a different culture and aren’t used to the driving in taiwan and miss rae is oh so sorry and then they’d dismiss me and everyone would leave with very plastic smiles and giggles and lots of nodding like little bows.
i would literally rather be fired.
i rolled to the back of the school where i keep my bike and got my stuff without hesitating. i was going to own this, and if i had to go down, i wasn’t going to apologize for being furious that somebody else was driving dangerously.
but when i came into the courtyard, there was just a little boy was making his lone way to class. i asked him if his mom drove the gray car and he said yes…
when i got to the table where the other foreign teachers were eating lunch, my hands were still shaking.
i waited for her to come in. i waited for her to call, for my manager to call me into the office. but nothing happened.
best case scenario: she was so oblivious that she didn’t notice that i gave her the middle finger and pulled into the school behind her. this wouldn’t surprise me at all because that’s literally why driving here is so dangerous–people are oblivious.
bestest case scenario: she was so embarrassed that she almost ran over a teacher at her son’s school that she doesn’t want to show her face. she went home to think about what she had done and decided she needs to chill when she’s driving, that sitting at a red light is less of a hassle than manslaughter charges.
insofar as she was a member of my school community, of course i did not want to give her the bird. but insofar as she was a rude and dangerous driver who in that instant valued my safety less than the prospect of having to sit through a 75-second red light, fuck her.