Another short story about life in Taiwan from Lonely Planet Author Joshua Samuel Brown. All smiles on this end, Josh. Thank-you!
If you’re a last minute grocery shopper in Taipei City, you may notice in certain supermarkets a song playing over the public address system. The song plays in a loop, from about 30 minutes before closing until whenever the last customer leaves. It is harmonious in every way, a lullaby almost, save for one thing; with every loop, the song gets louder. At 10:30, it’s at a pleasant enough volume. By a quarter-to, the decibels are getting noticeably less comfortable. It’s as if someone is trying to tell you something. Dally too long trying to decide between the silken and firm tofu at 10:58 and you may feel as if you’re being yelled at. In 28 minutes the message has gone from a subtle one to a piercing scream. But the lyrics, whispered or shouted, have not changed. It’s a prerecording of a melodiously sung and heartfelt thanks from the management to the patrons. The lyrics of the song contain a gentle reminder that management and staff have been on their feet all day, and builds up to a rising, thunderous crescendo with the song’s final operatic refrain:
“Wan aaaaaaaaaan! Wan aaaaaaaaaan! (Bai tuo-huo-huo! Ming! Tian! Jian!)
Goodnight! Goodnight! (We beg you!) See you tomorrow!”
This is the Taiwanese shopkeepers’ way of telling you politely to please leave now.