I first met C at the Taipei Hostel during the summer of 1996. He was fresh out of the University of Pittsburgh, with a B.A. in Public Relations. And he had come to pursue his dreams. I’m sure he had heard all sorts of stories about Japan and Korea during the ‘gold rush’ and he’d figured that Taiwan was the next place he could make it all happen. He was looking for a job “in my field” as he had said, which I figured didn’t mean teaching kindergarten. He had plastered Taipei with his resume and got down to the business of learning Mandarin and scoping out a girlfriend.

His attitude and personality was all about being the next man on the block. He was all positive and didn’t have any time for negative thoughts about the future. Here he was a handsome graduate of at least a reasonably good American school, ready to do what ever it would take to achieve success in a place full of opportunity.

Shortly after this. C moved out of the Taipei Hostel and I lost personal contact with him. But through mutual acquaintances, I picked up stories about what happeneded to him. They’re all stories, but I’m certain they’re all true. I tell them because they tell a story about my life on Taiwan. They also tell the story about what happens when young men and women come to a small island with undeveloped industry, populated by more Ph.D.s and MBAs per capita than anywhere else in the world, thinking they got it made ’cause they’re white and speak English

I heard a lot of stories about C moving in with his girlfriend. They had some sorts of plans about opening a business together. I guess something like this happened because I didn’t hear anything about him for a long time at the chop-shop English school where we had both worked. Then one day I heard that he was back. C‘s back teaching kindergarten, I was told by our mutual boss. He needed money for the clothing store he’d be opening with his new found squeeze. But in no time he disappeared again.

Months later, word trickled back that something had gone terribly wrong. C had some sort of problem. In all likelihood it was drugs – E in particular. His girlfriend had kicked him out and now the inevitable had occurred and he would have to go back home.

But this was not to be the end of my life with rumours about C. The months passed. My life changed. I moved out of the hostel and into the ‘burbs. Opportunities for business, friendship and personal growth came and passed. I went home for the Christmas of 1997. My sister got pregnant, as did many of my friends. And I was back in Taiwan.

And so was C, or so I had heard. Back at the chop-shop, I was told that he was having the same old troubles. Students had complained that he’d tried to sell them drugs. C‘s new-found party pal had introduced him to some sort of party scene down south. Apparently, they’d go down there every weekend and there’d be girls and drugs and a scene with which they could associate. I don’t know the details,but this is something like the story I was told.

C‘ll be going back to the U.S. this September, or so I’ve heard. That is, if he doesn’t get arrested first. But I wonder what he expects to do there? Work in The States is hard and people get fired for not being responsible enough. And there’s always another plane back and more drugs and easy money teaching kindergarten. I don’t think this is the last I’ve heard of him.


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