Buskers and rogues
The Taipei Metro stabbing spree involving college student Cheng Chieh in June this year reminded me of a few things I have witnessed on the subways in recent years.
In Europe or North America, one cannot help but be amused by some of the entertaining scenes while riding the subway. Last year I saw a busker entertain passengers with ventriloquist act using a puppet. It was reported that his show won over the heart of a female passenger.
A few years ago I witnessed an interesting, but frightening, scene riding the subway to Northwestern University in Evanston, Chicago.
Holding out his hat, a youth proclaimed to passengers after the train doors closed, "Do you know why there are so many killings in Chicago? Because there are too many unemployed people."
He continued: "You can contribute to the safety of Chicago if you put some money in my hat. In doing so, you are reducing the number of unemployed people and, as a result, the killings."
It was a frightening piece of marketing. People started to toss money into the hat, convinced by the speech. He thanked each of them with a smile and got off at the next stop, waiting for the next train, to repeat his money-making scheme.
These episodes are individual examples, of course, but they reflect different aspects of society, with some people good at entertaining and winning the hearts of the general populace, and others boasting and distorting their arguments.
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (8 November, 2014).
12 January, 2015