Day 1: Feeling It Out

My first night of sleep in Taiwan felt long overdue.  From the time that I left Durham on Monday morning, until the time I checked into my hotel on Tuesday evening around 8:30 p.m. local time (that’s +12 hours into the future from Eastern Standard for all you math nerds), I did not sleep. This was only partly thanks to the rambunctious children next to me on the airplane, but more accurately due to my own personal remedy for jet-lag.

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Day Five, Assimilation.

Today would be nothing like the previous day. When my alarm sputtered into my ear at 6 a.m. I got out of bed. On this day, my first task was to shower and being that I had a couple of years to practice this task, I was quite adept. I felt bad for whoever was on the other side of the wall to my shower, but only slightly, as I was singing “Dance, Magic Dance” as made famous by David Bowie from the 1986 Jim Henson movie Labyrinth. And before you ask, yes I was even doing the “You remind me of a babe. What babe? The babe with the power…” part. At ten minutes to 7 I sat down at my hotel room’s desk to attempt to figure out how to dial into a conference call using the hotel phone. My list of materials to accomplish this task was extensive: AT&T calling card, instruction sheet for said calling card, hotel binder with instructions for dialing the US, laptop with conference call phone number information, hotel phone, hard surface on which to bang forehead. As it turns out, this would be the most difficult and aneurysm-causing part of my entire trip.

First I tried the most logical of options and followed the instructions on the calling card. It instructed me to first dial my country of origin’s international access line listed on the opposite side. Easy. I then dialed my patch-through number listed on the back of the calling card, and waited for the prompt. A friendly computer told me to dial the number that I was trying to reach, so I did. Not a valid number. Okay, let’s try this again only this time I’ll add the “001” for reaching the US, which took me to the next prompt: enter in my access code from the front of the calling card. A different, but equally as friendly computer told me that I was not authorized to do “this”. How helpful and informative of an error message. So was I unauthorized to dial to the United States or unauthorized to use this card? I tried again, and again, and again using different combinations of numbers to attempt to reach the US. I even tried directly dialing the number without any calling card, which took me to a message in Spanish that while I didn’t understand, I could at least make out a maniacal “Ha ha ha”. Eventually I was able to figure out that repeatedly hitting zero while conversing with the helpful calling card computer took me to an operator. She said that I should not be able to reach the number that I was calling but she would put me through anyway. Ok, thanks? I think that little piece of advice may have actually been even less informative than the generic message I got from the computer. At least I made the meeting…
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