Thursday, September 09, 2004

I have a personal driver here. He takes me to work in the morning and takes me home in the evening. He also takes me grocery shopping on Friday afternoon. It's nice. My boss said she was responsible for my well-being here, which is fine by me, thus the personal escort. It sure beats scrabbling for the bus every day. And the traffic here is terrible.

The first driver, Mr. Nan, only shuttled me around to training meetings and such before I started working. He smiles often, flashing his gold and tobacco smile at me in the back seat, but otherwise doesn't say much. One time, he picked me up and took me across the street to eat lunch, but I thought that was a little excessive. Out on the open stretch of road that leads to my school, he has a habit of shifting into fifth gear after getting up to about 10mph, which makes the van rattle tremendously.

Once the semester began Mr. Gau took over. Mr. Gau (I don't know if that's a correct representation of his name, but it's as close as my phonetic ragamuffin Chinese gets me) is the second driver I've had, and he's trying to learn English. He references his phrasebook on a daily basis. He can say "see you tomorrow" as good as any native speaker, but after that we're rolling dice. He offers me cigarettes every morning.

Whatever unique characteristics the two drivers possess, they both have one in common. They lean on the horn as much as possible. Try honking at a bus in America and see how far you get. Never fear! What's a horn for, if not to sound off. Let folks know you're coming!

They both honk when they arrive at my building, even though I live on the 16th floor. They honk for no reason, which scares me. They honk at the cars in front of us when we're stop-and-go in morning or evening traffic, and they honk when we pass people walking or riding their bikes along the side of the road. As a matter of fact, almost every driver in this town seems to use the horn in the car as often as possible, which is a nice complement to the alarm clock ringing in the morning...

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