In America, we have this day called “Random Acts of Kindness Day” (which you all know, since I’m pretty sure all my readers are American). On this day, you are supposed to do random, unasked-for nice things for strangers. I can’t imagine this holiday, if you can call it that, exists in Taiwan. “Why,” you may ask, “is there no ‘Random Acts of Kindness Day’ in Taiwan?” Let me explain. I doubt there is one specific “Random Acts of Kindness” day because every day is Random Acts of Kindness day.
Never in my life, in all the countries I’ve been to, all the places I’ve seen, have I ever met people that are as consistently kind and well-intentioned as I have in Taiwan. In America, there is a tendency to distrust the average Joe on the street. If someone offers to help you, you are disinclined to take them up on their offer because you think they might have ulterior motives. We are a nation that thrives on the distrust of other members of our society. In Taiwan, on the other hand, you can trust the Average Joe. Take the time, for example, when I had a flat tire on my scooter and some Taiwanese woman I’d never met helped me push it all the way down the street to the repair shop. Or the time when my mother and I were on a short hike outside of Taipei and another hiker gave us an orange and an ear of corn to eat, just because we happened to walk by them. (Think about it—in the States, you probably would have thought it was drugged, or something was wrong with it, or someone was playing a mean-spirited joke on you. Never take candy from strangers, right?)
Or consider the other day. At a total loss for something more interesting to do, I was wandering around looking at teapots. I found this one store with really lovely teapots, so I walked in and started checking them out (way outside my budget range, sadly). The owner of the store invited me to sit down with him and drink some tea, which happens a lot in tea shops. I told him I didn’t want to trouble him, but he’d already made tea, so I sat down with him anyway. He eventually called his daughter down, and what ensued was an hour-and-a-half long discussion, just because I happened to be there. Neither of them spoke any English, mind you, so we were doing this all in Chinese. They didn’t ask for any kind of payment. We just sat together and drank tea. They even gave me some tea bags before I left (also free of charge) so I could try some more kinds of tea.
Believe when I say there are some things I will miss terribly about this country.