Olivia used to drive around with Reeces peanut butter cups in her dash. Photo Credit: Olivia Wycech

Olivia and I lived on Song Jiang Lu together for four years. There were gangsters running some kind of fake business at the bottom of our building.

I knew they were gangsters because all they did was sit outside and smoke cigarettes, chew betel nut, and f%&k with Olivia and me. Plus, our mechanic across the road who doesn’t speak English told me so.

Song Jiang Lu is a major street in Taipei with six lanes of traffic and parking in Taipei is a nightmare.

There was a small lot for about ten cars next door. That parking lot was always full from the Korean Gospel Church, which took up the five floors above the gangsters and below our apartment.

These gangster guys, and sometimes the church people, would double and triple park the street in front of our building. Every. Day.

Olivia and I parked our scooters on the sidewalk. But because they parked this way all the way around the block, it was nearly impossible to move our scooters. Every single day this happened. We lived on Song Jiang Lu for FOUR YEARS.

Naturally, we got upset and some people (ahem, me) dealt with it better than others. Olivia on the other hand…

After a couple of years, my scooter had been towed. I didn’t know the plate number and definitely didn’t purchase it legally. I didn’t have a drivers license or registration, and alas, was unable to claim it.

Prior to the scooter being towed, I crashed a couple of times. I have serious road rage. I figured this would be a good time for me to start using the MRT system instead.

But before all of that, there were the lightweight gangsters at the bottom of our building.

Generally speaking, I handled them pretty well, in that I would go into their building and shout, “MOVE YOUR CARS” (even though none of them speak English) and walk out. Some people would come out and curse at me in Chinese and grudgingly move their vehicles.

Olivia usually laid on her scooter horn and screamed, “MOVE YOUR F%&KING CARS!!!!!! MOOOOOOOOOVE YOOOOOOUUUUUURRRRRRRR CAAAAARS!!!!!” from outside, until someone came out to do so, and curse at her in Chinese.

One morning I heard a commotion outside, from my 7th-floor window while I was getting ready for school. A few seconds later a text from Olivia saying, “Come downstairs, I’ve called the cops”. I rushed downstairs immediately.

I was just in time to watch Olivia hock a loogie and spit it in one of the gangsters faces.

I had no idea what all this was, but fortunately, there was a lightweight gangster standing nearby to share the video with me. He recorded everything on his phone.

The following took place:

  1. Olivia shouting about moving the triple parked cars
  2. Gangster coming out to move it, but shouting at her in Chinese and then deliberately moving very slowly.
  3. Olivia ramming him with her scooter.
  4. Gangster punching Olivia’s scooter while she rams him.
  5. Olivia screaming and revving her engine.
  6. Gangster grabbing her handlebars and shoving her scooter backward and into a car, so she falls to the ground.
  7. Olivia attempting to lift the scooter off of herself.
  8. Gangster kicking her in the vagina.
  9. Olivia hocking a loogie and spitting it in his face.
  10. Gangster shouting and wiping his face.
  11. Police intervention.

The police in Taiwan don’t look like they could police anyone. They are not bigger or badder than 12-year-old children for the most part and are very very very nice.

After about 1.5 hours of mediating the situation between the gangsters, a livid Olivia, and the police, we came to some terms.

The gangster was to apologize for breaking Olivia’s scooter and kicking her in the vagina. Olivia was to apologize for trying to run him over and spitting in his face.

Olivia is a Scorpio, and therefore unable to apologize, so I did so on her behalf.

The gangster was instructed to help Olivia take her scooter across the street to our mechanic and friend, and to pay for it to get it fixed.

Me driving Helen and Diana to the supermarket. On one scooter. Photo Credit: Helen Objartel

At the mechanic’s shop around midday, our mechanic who only speaks a few words of English offered this advice:

Mechanic: (Pointing over to the gangster area), “No no no! BAD MAN!”.

Olivia and Audrey: “I KNOW!!! So bad! We totally hate that guy, he sucks!”

Mechanic: “No no. BAD. MAN. You take care!” (Offers us some whiskey)

Olivia and Audrey: “pshhh, Yes!”

After a few hours of sitting on an upside down bucket and a crate,  and lots of whiskeys later, Olivia and I decided this was by far the best mechanic in the world, and we loved him.

We figured we should do something nice for him, something western and of our culture.

We agreed that the best possible option was to make him some cheeseburgers.

Off we stumbled to the Matsusei grocery store down the street to gather supplies and more beer to share with him and his coworkers.

I am not even sure how we managed to assemble these burgers without a barbecue and in a drunken stupor, but we did.

We rushed downstairs and across the road to deliver his surprise.

I am not sure if he hadn’t ever seen a burger before, or if he was just tired of the crazy white girls hanging out in his shop. But he tried to refuse the plate of about seven burgers we had made him.

After we had practically forced a few bites down his throat, he gave them to the receptionist to take inside.

We thanked him for the scooter by distributing hugs.

Hugs are NOT something people do in Taiwan. In fact, Asian people give the weirdest hugs.

They’re like these quick fragile hugs, where you’re afraid you’re going to break them.  Or they stand there like a tree and do nothing. Or they just squeeze you like they’re doing the Heimlich maneuver and let go.

But we hugged the mechanic anyway and said, “WE LOVE YOU, YOU’RE AMAZING”.

I don’t think he liked it because he backed away shouting “AHHHH” and putting his arms out to stop us.

That didn’t bother us.

The summer before we left Song Jiang Lu, I bought this pool at Costco and Olivia and I BBQed steaks and drank mojitos all summer!! Photo Credit: Olivia

This wasn’t the end of the ongoing feud with the lightweight gangsters.

They often did things like put glue in the ignitions of our scooters, or break our handlebars a little bit.

We continued to scream and shout at them and they continued to play pranks.

Olivia used to take pictures of all the license plates and text them to the police to issue tickets (yes, you can do that).

We moved.

They’re still there, though. 

I’m fairly certain that entire neighborhood is happy we left.

Do you have funny stories about living abroad?! I would love to hear about them! Leave me a comment with your story, link and/or feedback!!

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