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Sunday, May 22, 2011


Taiwanese fire truck
We had an exciting event on Saturday. I had just woken up from a nap when the alarm started going off in the hallway.  This happens A LOT and we never have any idea what's going on, but we always just take the stairs down to the lobby and try to look confused until they tell us to go back up.  Well, this time there was an actual voice that came over the loudspeaker as well, so we could tell it was probably not a false alarm.  One of the guys who works at the desk in the lobby is VERY gung-ho about everything.  Whenever we come downstairs he always says hello to us very loudly several times, no matter what he is doing.  Right when we came out of the stairs he ran past us in full sprint, carrying a fire extinguisher, yelling at the top of his lungs.  I love that guy.

This time there were also other people evacuating.  All of the workers were ushering everyone outside and a steady stream of people came our for probably 30 minutes or so.  Some of them were a little over dramatic, holding up their shirts over their mouths to block the no-existent smoke.  Every so often one of the workers would come out and give an update to the crowd.  We couldn't understand them of course, but luckily one bilingual friend of ours and a couple of our students live in the same building, so we'd just get the translation from them.  We walked around the side of the building to see where the fire was, but we couldn't see anything, so we also weren't that worried.  In fact, it was kind of fun seeing everyone who lives in our building.  Nice to mingle with your neighbors, ya know?  Also, our bilingual friend is also friends with one of our friends from church and it turned out that she'd just called our church friend to have her come over so their kids could play together.  So, we got to chat with them as well.  

It took a while, but eventually this tiny fire truck showed up and two guys (not wearing fire suits) leisurely made their way out of it.  After a little while longer, another bigger fire truck, then two more came through and then an ambulance.  They seemed a little more rushed and were wearing firemen gear, but still didn't seem to be too worried.  In the end, they let our side of the building back up (because the fire was on the other side) and when we came our a little later they'd let everyone else back up too.  We found out from our church friend today that apparently someone had left their stove burner on and there was just a bunch of smoke, but no fire.  Also, she said, the main problem was that they just couldn't get through the door, because the apartment doors in our building are pretty much fit for a bomb shelter.

On a side note, a little about emergency vehicle culture here in Taiwan.  Basically, people just don't really yield to them here.  I'm not sure why.  But, I mean, if they can at all continue driving, they will, even if it's impeding the progress of the emergency vehicle.   This video is a good example.

In fact, the other day I was watching some cop show on TV (there is NOTHING on, and it was in ENGLISH).  The cops had been following this car for a couple hours with their lights and sirens going and everything, but the car just wouldn't pull over.  They just wanted to tell them their break light was out, so they hesitated to take extreme measures, but finally some other police car blocked the road and they got them to pull over.  Turned out it was a group of Taiwanese tourists.  They saw the police car, but hadn't been doing anything illegal, so they just kept going.  I laughed so hard!  I can totally see that happening, because that's exactly how it works here.  Anyway, hooray for cultural differences.

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