Ahh, the clash of west meets east. It is always a grand site for one, such as I, who understands both sides of the globe. WRONG...I honestly only understand a scratch of the east and to be honest I don't always understand the west. But, I do enjoy watching clashing of cultures....it causes me to laugh at how fun God is. I'm always reminded of the time period when the people of the earth built a tower to reach the heavens. But, God thwarted their plot by creating different languages. I believe that moment in time was the first culture clash. God has an awesome sense of humor, doesn't He?
Well, I got to take part in such humor a week ago. But, it took me a few hours, ok days, to really laugh with Him. I so wish I had pictures of this day; I'm just not as good about remembering to bring a camera with me like many of my friends. So, I'll have to paint the picture a bit.
Place: Bethany School Flea Market in Taipei, Taiwan
It was a warm Saturday morning and I was determined to get rid of our "stuff." I got there early and set up the table, thinking I had it really organized. I had everything marked. Kids were playing. I had change ready. I watched others set up their tables and had time to chat with friends before it opened. Structure-wise I was ready for the crowds to come. Mentally, not even close.
At 10am the doors were open and a flood of people came in. Now I'm not talking 20-30, I'm talking 50-80 in a small semi-confined area. In the first 15 min. I had 15 people digging and all asking questions at the same time. Note and Hint: most of the talking was in Chinese.
Most of you know that I grew up in the US and have lived in Chinese speaking communities for quite some time. I can speak Chinese, but not at a translators level...more like survival level. And remember that I had marked prices on all the items.
Ok, here is where Ms. West meets Ms. East. Ms. West thought that it would be like garage sales in the US. People look, buy what they want and maybe ask a few questions. It is usually fairly calm and pleasant.
Ms. East saw a market. Markets are places to bargain for the best price. You must ask for a better price no matter how cheap it is. You must not just ask once, you must ask at least three times and maybe even walk off to see if the seller will come down in price. And markets are loud places, busy places. Not a place for small talk.
Ahh, so after one grueling hour, I was exhausted. I had realized that I was in Culture Shock, but 1) was not going to admit it and 2) did NOT think it was funny. By noon, my prince in shining armor came and saved my day. He got me a Coke Zero. We compiled what was left and put it all into one tub. He made a sign that said "Everything Free" and we went home. We left behind the heat, the noise, and the clash of cultures.
Today, over a week later, as I sit here and think back to that moment I wonder if the people that built the Tower of Babel felt like I did at that moment I left to go home...tired, hot, and yet so glad to escape from the chaos.