Well, I'm back online.
My laptop completely died on me about a week and a half ago or so (made in Taiwan.. go figure) and after 8 or 9 days in the shop, and a replaced motherboard, it's back in my hands. And I'm shocked to announce, so are all my files/taiwan pictures/etc.
Today was a Beautiful Day, and retrieving my connection to the world put me in a particularly good mood. So, after little debate, I neglected my bus pass (bought at 7-11), my bike, the possibility of mooching a ride off someone, and the taxis that slowed down and honked everytime they passed, and chose the 50 minute walk to the computer store. My laptop is small. It fits in my shoulder-sling bag, so I knew getting it home wouldn't strain on my back.
After the near-hour trek, and retrieving my life-stream (sad, I know), I decided the only thing that could make this day better was a trip to Cold Stone for a waffle bowl of Ice Cream.
So that's exactly what I did.
There were two girls behind the counter preparing my Peanut Butter Paradise. They were chattering about, glancing occasionally and nervously in my direction. From what I could tell, they wanted to wish me a Happy Chinese New Year in English. They thought the single earbud in my ear was playing music, or maybe that Rhianna's "Umbrella" was playing loud enough that I couldn't listen in on their conversation, but they were less than subtle.
My suspicions were validated when "Eighteen" (Yes, that was the name on her badge, though my guess was she looked at least 24. The other was "Amy") placed a full sized Reece's Peanut Butter Cup into my Waffle Bowl.
Looking at me with a smile, she decisively stated "This one is free because Chinese Happy New Year."
Thanking her, I smiled back and replied with "Happy New Year!" ...in Chinese.
I dropped my change in the Tip Jar. And with a wink and a wave of my hand, I told her she didn't have to sing.
Typically, when I am in Cold Stone with my Taiwanese friends, I enjoy tipping because I love watching the Taiwanese-Coldstone employees nervously prepare to serenade me with one of their pre-selected songs ("High-ho, High-ho, sank you for your dough"). I enjoy this because I love the thick cloud of awkwardness that rises in the room.
You see, Coldstone is pretty much the only place in Taiwan that has a tip jar, so not only are Taiwanese not used to tipping, they're not used to being sung at afterwards - and the unsuspecting Coldstone Employees aren't used to it either. My Taiwanese friends grow uncomfortable because they have no idea why I would do such a thing. The innocent diners look around curiously before burrying their faces into their green tea ice cream, and the kids behind the counter are seized with stage fright.
In the midst of it all stands an out-of-place white guy, beaming through the cloud of awkward tension. Great moments.
Today, however, I was alone. And Coldstone was fairly empty, despite it being a perfect February ice cream day. So with a wave of my hand and a wink that said "I'm about to walk out that door, and I promise not to write your boss" I released the steam building up in our little kettle of awkward.
Amy and Eighteen were quite gracious. I could see it on their faces.
Anyways, now that I have my computer back I'm going to rattle off as many blogs as I can to update you with the last three weeks.
Also, look forward to pictures and a blog post from my sister to recap her trip.
She's got some stories for you for sure.
Til then, "Chinese Happy New Year!"