Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 04 2001

I was talking with the doorman downstairs, one of …

I was talking with the doorman downstairs, one of the old guys who is always there behind the desk just inside the door of my building, last night. I just wanted to know when the building was built and whether it had radioactive steel beams in it. He said it was built in 1978 but was put into use in 1980, which was before the radioactive buildings were build(81-82). So I guess it’s safe, in that respect, at least. Now if I can find out when our office building was constructed…

Anyway, I learned a lot more about our doorman last night. He said he had held that position for 13 years. He asked me to guess how old he was. I said about 58, deliberately underestimating to be polite. I would have honestly said he looks closer to 70. Turns out he is 86. He showed me a scar on his head. “The Japanese did that, back in the war in the 30’s.” Then he showed me a really nasty slash on his ankle. “The Chinese communists did that, in the civil war in the 40’s,” he said. He also said he was a spy, and that they operated behind enemy lines, wearing plainclothes and sustaining heavy casualties. He came to Taiwan in 1949 along with Chiang Kai-shek and studied under CKS’s main spy, Dai Li. He wrote out Dai Li’s name on a peice of paper with a brush ben in beautiful calligraphy. I commented on his writing, but he pshawed(how long has it been since anyone pshawed me?) and said it was just ordinary writing.

He said he had never married, but he did take pity on a 4-year-old street crippled orphan girl and adopted her. She is now 25 and has two sons of her own. He had pictures of her and her kids, two fat, healthy elementary-school age boys.

It blows my mind what this guy and others of his generation did for his country. Without them, things would be different today. The ROC might not even exist today if it weren’t for them. Compare these guys to today’s youth. I know I sound like an old codger even though I am only 32, but it seems to me that young people in Taiwan these days are vastly more self-centered now than even a few years ago. I suppose they are just a product of their environment. People say that the recent economic downturn in Taiwan is because the young people don’t want to actually do any work and just stay at home and filch off their parents. That, plus the self-fulfilling prophecy of “Oh, the economy’s bad, so let’s not spend any money on anything and make it worse,” reinforce my belief that it won’t be long before Taiwan will have no choice, for its own sake, to ‘reunify’ with the PRC. The only problem with this scenario, of course, is the PRC itself. It’s changing, improving dramatically, but will it be fast enough? In any case, Taiwan will need a buffer(the Taiwan Strait should do nicely) and this society, I fear, is in for some sort of revolution. It’s either that or become just another third-world nation.

One of my co-workers, my ‘mentor’ according to our company’s system for newcomers, is leaving today. It seems that he has recieved his draft notice and will have to do somewhere between 5 and 22 months’ military service in the army. He is about 25, about the same age as I was when I got my draft notice. The army seems a lot easier these days, though, from what I can tell, so boredom will likely be the hardest thing for him to deal with. If China does invade, by the time the army gets involved it will likely already be too late anyway…

Ack! Enough depressing political commentary! It’s Friday! Everyone go to the Tavern tonight!

posted by Poagao at 3:19 am  

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