July 08, 2006

Drivers Wanted?

Head out of town on Taichungkang Rd, go past Tunghai University and the Tech Park until you get to the top of the hill. You'll see a sign for Providence University, but you're not going towards Providence. As soon as you see an indication that Providence is just ahead, take a left. A couple clicks down this road that traces the bluff overlooking both the harbor and the city is the DMV. If there is a place in Taichung that is the antithesis of prudent management, this is it. Welcome.

I lost my wallet about 6 years ago, and with it, my Indiana driver's license. If there were some way of getting my license without going back to Indiana, I'd have done it. As it is, I have no proof that I ever had a driver's license in the States and am back to square one, as the bureaucrats see it.

My scooter/motorcycle license, I got four years ago. I had a lot of fun that day; barely passed the written test, and watched as 4 of 10 folks failed the practical test. They then rode home, go figure. That was the day when the desk jockey derided me for barely passing the test, and further made fun of my last name, saying, "Your name is no good, that's not a real name." I looked him in the eye and told him that his combover wasn't fooling anyone.

About three months or so ago, I went up to the DMV and filled in a bunch of forms so that I could get a learner's permit, stating that it'd be ok to drive in Taiwan as long as there was someone with me that had passed the tests. Along with a piece of paper with one of my passport pictures on it, I was given a book to memorize.

The "Cars Driver's Manual" with the subtitle (?) Ministry of Transportation and Communications Highway Bureau every District Supervision Office are suitable for use," is 91 pages long and ripe for revision. It's divided into sections titled, "Traffic Signs, Signals, and Gestures," "Driver's Morals and Traffic Safety."

Question #17 of the latter: How does a driver think about his appearance? 1) There are no restrictions. 2) He should be clean and dignified. 3) It is not important.

For those of you flummoxed by this one, the answer is 2. A rule which is not, however, observed so often as it is flogged. I think that there must be some people who think that young Taiwanese women riding their 50cc scooters down the road with their thongs and ass cracks displayed for the world to see is undignified.

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