Thursday, November 10, 2005


I was just reading Tyrn's blog, and he has posted some thoughts/complaints about roommates... which lead me to think about my current roommate situation.

I don't have a roommate here, and as a result my rent - by Taiwan standards - is a little expensive. I could half the rent by filling that empty room but, so far, I haven't accepted anyone that has stopped in.

The fact is that I am a judgmental asshole.

I've met three prospective roommates now, and denied every one.

Potential roommate # 1
The Paranoid American girl:

She had just been offered a job at our school here, and I, being roommateless, was quickly nominated to take her in for a month, possibly longer. Being a little wary of the whole thing, I said she was welcome to check it out, stay for a week, and see how she felt.

So, armed with two huge mother suitcases, she moved in. Bear in mind that this all happened the first day I met her. I showed her the room, and I started to notice that this girl was what some people would describe as "edgy". She was nervous. Jumpy. You know what I mean.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Of course she was nervous Aaron. There she was, alone in an apartment in a new country... with a strange man... a bearded man. A Canadian!"

Granted, it is possible that she convinced herself that at any moment I would strike up a "marijuana cigarette" and get freaky, soon after which the Taiwanese drug police would smash down the door....... hours later, before she knew what was happening, she would be in some Malaysian prison awaiting trail for trafficking. "It wasn't my bag!" she would scream. "That Canadian asked me to carry his bag!" I say this because she actually alluded to (my apparent?) drug use later in conversation. Why do I provoke this kind of talk? The curse of the beard.

Anyway, she relaxed a little, then quickly started in on a barrage of questions and worries. She was worried about everything that she could possibly be worried about... all at the same time.

She displayed behaviour that I've seen from more than a few travelers. Their entire knowledge of a place seems to have been garnered from the latest edition of Lonely Planet, supplemented by the CIA fact sheet that is compiled on every country. The kind of "healthy" paranoia of foreign lands and people that our governments encourage to "protect" us. This, as opposed to a little street sense and a belief in the basic decency of people everywhere. The belief that we all want the same thing... food for our next meal, a family, to love and be loved... (that was a bit of an off topic tangent there, sorry).

Anyway, in her case it was obviously a bit too much

And, she wouldn't listen to any advice.

Her: "They are starting to process my working visa tomorrow. The visa won't come until next month, but they want me to start sooner. Isn't that illegal? Won't I get arrested? Kicked out? Thrown in a small dark room in Taipei with all those other illegal (Canadian) teachers?"

Me: "Don't worry about that. It's just a bureaucratic technicality that they are too lazy to correct. As long as your visa is being processed, you are ok."

Her: "But I heard that the room is really small, and really dark! Anyway, what about the boss Andy? What if he steals my money, or charges me too much taxes, or doesn't charge me enough taxes, or doesn't give me enough work, or cancels my working visa without telling me, leaving me lying in a small dark room in Taipei... with a black stamp in my passport!"

Me: "Wait, didn't you meet Andy in Australia at university? He's your friend! In my experience, he is a great boss, and in the past year, I have hardly had any problems. That school is one of the best in Ilan. Don't worry about all that. You won't have any problems."

Her: "But I heard..."

shenme de, ad infinitum.

She was displaying behaviour that the Department of Homeland Security would proudly characterize as "Orange", orange being a high risk of a terrorist attack, or in her case, a high risk of being ripped off by anyone, at any moment.

It was clear that this level of vigilance would likely continue into the "Red" (Severe risk of freaking out completely)... and on that day, she would skip the country, never to be seen again.

I deftly avoided taking her in as a roommate, which she facilitated by disappearing the following morning with all her bags, leaving only a hastily written note explaining that she HAD to go to Taipei for a day (with her two huge bags?).

A month later, she disappeared without a word to anyone.


Potential roommate #2:
The 35 year old Hawaiian guy who has lived in Taiwan for twelve years:

Disclaimer: I exaggerated that story a little .

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