Thursday, April 14, 2005

"There's a reason why I don't have male Taiwanese friends." - Marcus M.

I had just finished my usual salad at Swensen's after my kung fu class last Friday. Made my way across Tianmu E. Road. I was about to turn into the alley toward my apartment when I saw this man dragging this woman by the arms. She was struggling, crying hysterically, trying to get to her feet and escape his hold. He was yelling at her all the time.
I shouted, "HEY!", almost the way I do my kids when they are being naughty.
Startled, he turned around.
"What are you doing?"
He smiled and calmly replied, "She's my wife..."
"I don't care if she's your wife, you don't do that... I'm going to call the police!"
Some time during this exchange the 30 some year old woman got free and was standing on the sidewalk wiping her tears away.
He gave me this smirk I'll never forget. "Go ahead..."
I wanted to kill this man. I took my cell out but I didn't call. I walked away. I looked back at the two. They were talking now. I walked home.

Thinking back, I wonder about many things. Was I the only one who saw this? If not, did anybody just walk by and ignore them. There seems to be this cultural norm not to get involved in other people's affairs.

A few months ago I was at a bus stop. As the bus approached, a scooter with two women was pushed over on the inside. Though, there were about a dozen people waiting there, nobody moved. I rushed to pull the scooter off of them. Later, one man came by and helped me with the scooter. No, they weren't seriously injured but that's not the point.

Perhaps, I wouldn't have done any of this a couple of years ago. One incident seriously affected me.

Malcolm and I were riding down Yang Ming Mountain one Sunday. We stopped off at a farmers market with about twenty vendors. While everybody was happily selecting fresh fruits and vegetables, a black car pulled up. Four men in black shirts and black slacks jumped out. They ran over to this old farmer man and proceeded to beat him. They used fists, feet, chairs, fruits, and at one point one of the gangsters picked up a metal scale and threatened to bash it over his head. I was aghast. I didn't know what to do. What can you do? I wanted to help this poor old man but I didn't move. I was frozen. I screamed, "Malcolm we have to do something!" I thought we ought to call the police but how would we even describe where we were. We were somewhere on the mountain. I said I could take pictures. Mal asked me if I wanted my camera smashed. One old vender motioned to not get involved and buy some of her fruits. What?! There were maybe fifty bystanders there. Some were across the street at the bus stop. Only one man and one woman tried to defend him from these vicious blows. I was not one of them. The scene lasted not 10 minutes. As quickly as the men in black appeared, they ran back to the black car and immediately sped off down the mountain. The old vendor, bleeding from the head got up and sat in a chair.

I often play this experience over in my head. I learned that day that it was better to do what you think is right rather than living with the regret.


Lisa said...

Wow, Linda, that sounds like a horrifying experience.

It reminds me of one of my close friends who, though he never talks about it, told me once that he watched helplessly as a man was stabbed on a subway platform.

I don't know what I would have done but my primary reaction would probably be to save myself and I would try to reassure myself that it was the right decision but I know it would haunt me.

Anonymous said...