The occasional person asks me why I blog. The main point is to put up posts about Taiwan's history, as I feel it is misrepresented at times as well as under-represented. There also seems to be an effort in the media to color Taiwan as something that is Chinese. I guess I am not the only person in Taiwan that finds this problematic. The reason I can't get on board is I come from the US, via Canada, and I don't see myself as Chinese in any way. There are a couple of other concepts that inspire me: 1.) I'm interested in writing about the local history of the places I visit in Taiwan. This could mean simply translating something a taxi driver has told me. Or maybe I'll hit the books to create something bigger. 2.) I'm deeply interested in amusing myself. The next tidbit falls into the latter category. I think I'll get my kicks running over something annoying with the hope of a personal resolution. I suppose I'm being petty, but here goes anyway. It's about the shitty customer service I received at a store called North Face. Ever heard of these guys?
My wife, daughter and I were killing time and working up an appetite for dinner this afternoon in Gongguan (公館). We wandered into the North Face store on Roosevelt and I saw a satchel that was me. After asking for, and getting, the customary 10 percent discount on the fixed price (NT$3800 = US$125ish), I asked the salesman where the garbage can was. I had my daughter's empty yogurt bottle in my left and an equally light Asahi can in the right. I wanted to inspect the cool pockets of the satchel, try it on, etc., but couldn't because my hands were full. This is where the b.s. started. The salesman said: "We don't have a garbage can. You'll have to go out to the street to find one."
"How do you throw things away if you don't have a garbage?" I asked, looking around.
"Oh? Well, we don't provide this service for our customers," was the reply.
A couple moments later, after his words had sunk in and I had realized what I was dealing with, I said, "And I was just about to buy a bag from you."
"I'm sorry. There is nothing I can do -- mei ban fa (沒辦法)!" Actually, the salesman just shrugged me off. He couldn't care less.
To make a long story short, I didn't get the bag. The salesman had made his point; he was King and we were pretty lucky to be admitted to his store. In Taipei, the store owner is quite often King.