I was driving at around 9pm when my tire blew. Great. I was still about 10 mins from home. Luckily, this being Taiwan, scooter shops are as numerous as Timmy’s in Canada. As I approached the nearest one, I saw the mechanic lounging around with (presumably) his buddies. Upon seeing me, he came up and took a look at the vehicle. His buddies were still lounging in the back chatting, drinking Kaoliang (local liquor), smoking and chewing betelnut.
When he realized what the problem was, he wheeled the scooter in and put it on a ramp to change the tire. I stood back and chilled, waiting for the job to be done. Up to this point, no one else had even turned to look at what was going on – being too busy with discussing which KTV to head to tonight and all.
Then something funny happened. He fired up the electrical drill. Like a dog hearing a silent whistle, the ears of his buddies all perked up. Heads turned to see what was going on.
One by one, they left the table and sauntered over to the scooter, and in about 30 seconds, there was a ring of guys standing around watching him work. No one was saying anything, or offering help. Just standing and looking. The poses were typical. Arms crossed, hands on hips and intensely interested expressions. The betelnut, KTV’s and liquor were all forgotten as they kept silent watch over the work being done. This was a serious case of what I call “Manzheimers Toolititus”.
Males usually suffer from this affliction. Symptoms include a complete loss of short term memory and an autistic-like focus when the victim hears the sound of tools. Jackhammers, drills, chainsaws – these types of tools trigger the episodes. Those afflicted will usually saunter over and just stand next to where the tools are being used. Everything else is forgotten.
I have seen cases of this numerous times in Canada, but this is the first observed case (by me) in Taiwan. I was truly awed by the deafening silence which had taken place of the deafening chatter just a moment ago.
When he finished and turned off the drill, the guys around him looked like they had just woken from a dream. They went back to their seats, and the conversation resumed – the episode already forgotten. I paid him and left.
It’s nice to see that no matter how different the culture, language and just about everything is, some things are universal. Turn on a tool, and men will be men.