So, before 7am my security phone rings and when I get to it someone introduces themself as police and they need to investigate a report of [didn’t get the Chinese] – but clearly it was me they were interested in.
I’d been sitting on the ledge of my porch over the flower bed in my usual perch, typing. It’s an 8th floor studio over one of the busiest roads in Taipei. Great view. Sometimes from there I sing, or meditate or take pictures of the changing road construction below. Or I might just enjoy the view below. Oops. I buzz them in the building. I go downstairs. 4 guys in thick protective police vests are in the entrance. I introduce myself. “It’s me.” (like I’d told on the phone) Do you know the person upstairs? No, it’s ME, I’m the person sitting on the balcony. It’s safe. It’s nice.
We talk a bit. I repeat myself a bit. I invite them to go up and see how safe it is. I tell them it’s a nice place to sit. I tell them I sometimes sing there. I sit early mornings, sometimes mid-afternoon. They tell me a couple times that it’s not safe, and I invite them up to look. I do this a lot. It’s nice.
The whole thing is maybe 5 minutes. They send the fire department people and truck outside away (!!) and I sign a couple of papers. 1st one I ask for clarity on what it means “this confirms that you don’t need to go to the hospital” (!! I do give this young guy a funny look … OF COURSE I don’t need to go to the hospital) and the other one I just sign, though he nicely tells me what it means but it’s clearly just process. The “main dude” was nice. They’ve gotten my name. I couldn’t remember my ID number (young guy was shocked, stunned and wanted to clarify that I had heard the question correctly). I told them it begins with CD000 … This was an education for him. Older guy (about my age) was cool, just amused. I told them I used to be NTOU professor and my house is the highest house beside the university looking over the ocean and the view is magnificent and here in Taipei I enjoy THIS view. It’s wonderful.
How long have you lived in Taiwan? 30 years.
Told them I’d tell my students this story. Apologized for wasting resources. Asked at least 3 times their ideas on how I could do this without unduly upsetting others … maybe a sign from the balcony saying “I’m really safe here, thanks for your concern.” Told them I have friends in the fire department and will ask them their ideas, and the security man in my building.
Do you still want me to come up and look?
Older dude sends everyone away. I ask “really, my REAL question is what do you suggest I do to put everyone enough at ease?” He says “here in Taiwan …” (the equivalent of – noone sits on balconies with all this sensitivity to suicides). Do you still want me to come up and look? “I don’t need you to but you’re welcome if it would make you relax.” Instead he asked for me to write my name and phone number in another little book he had and he could call me and check if he gets another report. Sure. Nice. I go upstairs and sit on the balcony for a little while just to send a message of calm and peace to whoever is watching. Then I clean up my little sitting area so if I had an important guest come up some day to look, it’d look like the wonderful place that it really is. I’ll think about this in the future … how do I make this spot nice enough to invite the mayor up to sit?