In Hsinchu if you want an Uber or a taxi one comes seemingly instantly. Want furniture? It will be there tomorrow. Any item you need for your home, you can expect it the same day. Food is everywhere. Getting your car fixed doesn’t require an appointment and they come to collect your car. Movers can be found quickly and scheduled to your needs. That part of the world is far from some Jetson’s like utopia but services are built around peoples long working schedules. And it’s convenient and fast.
Here in the old country things work at an entirely different pace. Furniture and mattress shopping has taught me to in some cases to think in terms of months, not days. What people sit and sleep on in the interim is not clear to me. Trucks are available for rent 6 weeks from when you need it and Maritime Electric never answers their phone. The selection of goods locally necessitates buying online where your items “usually ship in 5 business days” and then arrive sometime later. Why it takes a business 5 days to put something in a box I don’t know.
One thing that does come quickly is mystery charges. A recent car inspection featured $24 for grease, they must be usually a lot of grease or it’s laced with titanium. Maritime electric charges a $40 “transfer fee” and because I am a stranger a $100 deposit. And I used to complain about ChungHwa Telecom in Taiwan with their foreigner deposit tax. Activating a SIM costs $30 and on and on.
Of course this change of pace also means a frequent dispensing of directness. In looking for some furniture the sales person first wanted to know all about me, what my last name was, who my father was, and what I had been up to these past 20 years. The conversation quickly reached the depths of discussing China’s socio-economic problems and his feelings about the recent wave of immigration. Its good for the furniture business apparently. This is a good thing, as relationships are important here, and it’s also entertaining. I think I have had more conversations with strangers here this past week than in a year in the new world. Thats a benefit of a slowing down.