Until a scant half hour ago I had been blissfully unfamiliar with the concept of losing one’s shit. Naturally I was aware of the phenomenon and had witnessed others affected by the malady but I’ve by and large been able to pride myself on an ability to maintain a firm grip on all aspects of my shit under the most adverse of circumstances. Then a passenger bus made a serious and almost successful attempt to transform me into strawberry jam across Taichung Port Road. I lost my shit.
There I was, happily cycling along at a relatively relaxed pace compared to my typical evening commute when from nowhere a headlight presented itself at eye level, indicators bathed my head in their orange glow and I realised that a bus was intent on making a 45 degree passage to the curb in order to meet an approaching stop. At more or less 60kph. Less than 15 metres away. And I was in its path. Left with literally no options other than an ignominious death beneath the behemoth I was forced to slam on the brakes and hop onto the pavement, barely missing a tree in the process. Seconds later I found myself atop my steed and facing the bemused and signally unflustered bus driver down through the windscreen. My shit was nowhere to be seen.
Now I’m perfectly aware that local custom dictates a measure of calm is retained in any social situation lest either party should ‘lose face’. All well and good but I consider this social contract null and void the second one party attempts to murder the other. That just crosses a line from which no level of tact will facilitate a return. Thus I found myself bellowing at the top of my lungs the kind of obscenities of which I proudly consider the Scots to be world masters. Torrents of every conceivable slander gushed forth, disputing the driver’s parentage, intestinal fortitude and testicular possession while questioning his sexual proclivities. All in a language with which he, naturally, was almost entirely unfamiliar.
Then lo, who should come to my aid but a knight in shining armour! A taxi driver – normally a dread foe on the roads of Taichung – who had witnessed the entire incident from his perch on the bonnet of his vehicle while enjoying a between-fares cigarette. No sooner had the irate and rather puzzled bus driver started inching his beast toward me in a frighteningly Tiananmen Square-like manner than my newfound ally, thankfully possessing quite wonderful English skills, alighted the still-open bus and began to translate the reasons for my recent misplacing of my shit.
After a few minutes of back and forth, coming perilously close to blows at times, my nemesis finally and reluctantly – realising that this insane, frothing-at-the-mouth Caledonian firebrand had no intention of moving – offered a translated apology. The icing on the cake, aside from the obvious elation at still being in possession of my life if not my shit, was the small round of applause directed at me from the few passengers in the front of the bus who had witnessed the confrontation.
I moved to the side of the road, the bus moved on and I slowly began to recover my shit. My interpreter informed me that my foe had admitted he’d been reckless, that he was insanely embarrassed and that two of the passengers had mentioned contacting the bus company to complain. Vindication is mine!
It’s now an hour later. Back at the apartment I find myself once again reunited with my shit in its entirety and have pledged to keep it under much closer surveillance in future, under lock and key if necessary. Barring interference from bus drivers of course, then as with tonight all bets are off