A couple of weeks ago I wrote another “True Life” blog about life in Taiwan that addressed specific questions and encounters I’ve had while living here in Asia. Remember the peanut butter thing? If not, click here. Well, here’s to round two of another lesson learned in living life in the beautiful nation of Taiwan.
It was a Friday afternoon and I was waiting at the MRT station for my friends to show up. We’d been planning to go to a small town called Tien Mu to walk around, shop and relax a little bit (Tien Mu is the place where I bought the Jif PB) and so we planned on meeting at 3:45 in the center of the MRT station. Thus far, my day had been pretty typical and pretty ordinary. I had Chinese class, I studied, I worked on a lecture that I will be giving in a few weeks and I was ready to hit the “not so thriving metropolis” of Tien Mu with some friends. As I was waiting for two of my friends, my friend Rachelle was the first to arrive. I noticed her walking up towards me, and I couldn’t see her facial expression too clearly but it was quite obvious to me that something was wrong….not just wrong, but very, very wrong. I tried to focus my eyes a little on her face and I noticed this “I am NOT impressed at life right now” kind of look in her eyes. You know that look? That look is usually accompanied with a fast pace walk and a determination of sorts. I took a sip of my hot chocolate and began wracking my brain, recalling all of our previous conversations that day and even the day before. “What is going on? Oh my gosh, did I do something?” (I’m a feeler so inevitably that was one of the first things that ran through my mind) Whatever was wrong, it had just happened, and whatever had just happened, was bad….very, very bad.
As Rachelle approached me, I just remember saying something like “hey, what’s up….” everything after that was a blur and called for a literal jaw drop from me and a “are you kidding me….who does that?”.
Well friends, let me tell you what happened that “pretty typical, pretty ordinary day” My friend Rachelle lives on the 5th floor in her apartment building and as she was walking down the stairs to meet a friend for lunch, she suddenly smelled a very foul, nostril burning odor. It was one of those smells that kind of burns your nose and makes you gag a little. Know those? They normally kind of throw you back a few feet and make you consider implementing scuba gear into your “everyday casual” attire (minus the wetsuit and flippers of course) Well, what Rachelle hadn’t really noticed was that someone had not just pooped, but diarrhea-ed all over the 1st floor landing and stairs. Somehow she made it to the bottom, and while waiting outside of the lurking odor-offensive smell, she heard a man pounding on the 1st floor apartment door. She DEFINITELY did not want to go back upstairs (who could blame her…I mean, honestly) but then all of a sudden the man who was pounding on the door came downstairs and began speaking to her in Chinese. Rachelle kept saying in Chinese to the man “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying” and while Rachelle was saying this, she noticed that THIS was the guy responsible for the hot mess all over the stairs. The evidence was quite obvious to her as she noticed that the brown stuff was all over his pants.
What do you to? Well, fortunately, Rach had to go back upstairs to make a phone call but also..not so fortunately she had to walk through that….crap. (Just so you know, thus far this is the 2nd time she had to walk through it) So, she went inside, made the phone call, got some paper towels to use as a barrier between the poop and her feet, and sprayed some body spray on a towel to put over her nose so that she could breathe “Darth Vader style” as she walked back down the stairs (3rd time)
Luckily, Rachelle was able to warn her roommates who were arriving at the same time that she was leaving. Later that night, Rachelle came home and someone had poured water all over the stairs. (so pretty much someone just rinsed, and rehydrated the stairs)
Now this is that part in the story where I’m going to pause and say…
If this happened to you in your apartment complex, what would you do?
Well, here is what Rachelle did: She went to the store, bought rubber gloves and 2 gallons of bleach, some orange juice for breakfast for herself and a new doormat.Then, she and her roommates scrubbed down the stairwell with two old mops and prayed for the neighbors. Of course the initial reaction from Rachelle (and anyone normal for that matter) was frustration, confusion…etc etc but in the end, the choice that she made in spite of the feelings, was what really mattered and that choice has really challenged me lately.
There were many things that she could have done…let me just give you some ideas that I had in my mind…
1. Leave a note on the door that just says “Clean it”
2. Buy some cement and just repave the stairs….somehow…
3. Become okay with wearing rain boots and a face mask every single day
4. Knock on the neighbor’s door and ask them if anything smells weird or if I’m just imagining things
5. Rent a bulldozer and have someone tear down and rebuild the apartment from the ground up
7. Buy a toilet and put it outside their door to prevent things like this from happening again in the future
8. Attach a latter to the window of my apartment so that I never have to use the stairs again
9. Make a Zip line from my bedroom to the classroom
10. Buy poop scented perfume so eventually I just get used to the smell
So, you see, my ideas probably would not have worked out so well. Why? Because my ideas are obviously ignoring the deeper issue of what may be going on in the hearts of the neighbors. I have no idea what caused this man to do this and I have no idea why the neighbors do not seem to make an effort to clean it up. All of these solutions though comical, are indeed selfish.
The most unselfish thing a person can do, is to clean up another persons mess.
I have to think…was this comparable to when Jesus washed the disciples feet? The most humble, lowly and yet amazing act of selflessness. Someone diarrhea-ing on your stairs is inconvenient. However no one ever said that selflessness would insure convenience. Selfishness is pretty lame because you’re always sure that your idea, response, and solution is THE very best. Jesus bids us to “come and die”…die to our desires, convenience, plans, ideas….etc etc. It is in HIM that we have life and freedom and He is the greatest example ever in history, of what it means to be selfless. I’m learning more and more, that if I truly want to be like Jesus, then I’m going to have to make getting dirty, a part of my everyday routine.
Philippians 2:3- Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.