Taiwan On

I am a creature of habits, not all of them bad. One rut I've been happily stuck in since 1985 is my semi-annual pilgrimages to the center of the light industrial universe, Taiwan. During a formative period of my budding bicycle-design career, I spent a combined 11 months over two years on roughly 16 trips to Taiwan, with stops in Japan, China, Thailand and Hong Kong thrown in for good measure. My boss, travel companion and mentor on most of those trips was Bob Margevicius, himself a veteran of over 50 whistle stops around Asia in the 15 years before I climbed under his nurturing wing. The then president of Mongoose bicycles taught this fledgling product manager about the power of the pen, the importance of communication and the art of the deal, but his most enduring contributions to my pro game involved haircuts, truck-stop ice cream and drinking games.

When I met Bob at LAX for our first two-week Asian business junket together, I was wearing track pants and a t-shirt for the 14-hour flight. My bulging suitcase contained ten pair of pants, a dozen each shirts, socks and boxers, a raincoat, a blazer, three ties, two pair of shoes, gym shorts and pajamas. My backpack housed books, snacks and magazines, travel documents, a 3-inch-thick stack of spec sheets and frame drawings, and a tool bag with bike-building essentials. Bob's loaner HP laptop with MS-DOS and 4k of ROM was tucked proudly inside a Christmas gift from my last employer, a Zero Haliburton briefcase, the brushed alloy variety favored by Cuban coke dealers on "Miami Vice."

"Jeez-o-man, McGoo, what did you pack for—a two-month vacation?"

As Bob made his exclamation, I scanned his own kit from stem to stern:

Tassel loafers
Dress slacks
Monogrammed dress shirt and tie
Sweater vest
Pullover cardigan
Sport coat
Wafer-thin two-suit carry-on
Featherlight leather attache with laptop pocket

Not a Ding Dong, a can of Planter's peanuts or a dirt-bike magazine in sight. Compared to this lean, mean business machine, I looked like Thurston Howell's sherpa. It was going to be a long trip…


No comments: