Sincere thanks to our MRT workers

By Daniel J. Bauer

I’ve never been to Yankee Stadium or to a Broadway play. I’ve never seen the White House in person or done the museum thing in D.C. I haven’t been to Disney World or the Grand Canyon. Many of my students have had these experiences. Sometimes I envy my students. Now it’s their turn to envy me. Three days ago, I helped to make history. In fearless and furious pursuit of the very words you are now reading, I rode on the first train to pull out of the “Fu da” MRT station for Taipei. Ha!

I wasn’t able to cover both the opening ceremony at the station with all the dignitaries and be a passenger on that maiden voyage too. With limited time, it had to be the one or the other. Given how opening ceremonies and speeches usually go, I am guessing I made the right decision. Robert Frost writes of two paths in his celebrated poem. He took “the one less traveled by.” I took the one more traveled by. Approximately a hundred of us stood patiently as we waited to get inside the new MRT station outside exit one, and in light rain, mind you, but there were smiles all around. I spotted one young fellow I swore I’d seen in and out of classrooms near mine, and said hello. Neither of us remembered the other’s name but, like wanted posters in U.S. post offices, we remembered the faces. Professor Manuel of the Italian Department took the train to go home. I took it to write this newspaper column.

Media were everywhere, the cameramen in thickly padded jackets and some in hats even more worn than mine, the reporters attractive young women in sweaters and scarves. Two of them stuck microphones in my face. I did not object. I figured they’d also interview the other 99 people standing there, so there was no reason to be shy. My face and words would never see the light of day on the evening news. “Will the Fu da line make a difference in your life?” “How long does it take a bus to get to Taipei from here?” “Where is that little church you say you take the bus to on Sunday mornings?” They asked tough questions like that.