Skill-Testing Question

I have this innate ability to confuse the young people of Taiwan.

For breakfast this morning, I walked into the 7-11 and paid for my microwaveable dumplings. As he heats them up for me, I ask in what I consider to be perfectly and easily understandable Mandarin,

"Do you have any plastic knives?"

That seemed to be all it took to hijack his cognitive abilities. He stared at me for a while as his brain ground back to life from the apparent short circuit, and as his three neurons woke up, they got to working on solving the enormous problem at hand. First, he clarified and defined the problem:
"Plastic knife?"
"Yes, plastic knife."

I was patient, and I truly wanted to help him beat this one. Plus, I figured I'd humour him. He was getting there, albeit it slower than I would have preferred.

At this point, I thought, we have to move faster than this. Maybe I shouldn't have given him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I should clarify it for him to move it along.
"Knife. A knife," I confirmed, while showing both my hand as a knife, and then showing a cutting action as if I were holding a knife.

He still didn't get it. Maybe he just needed some context because he was more questioning where my question came from. Perhaps another hint would clue him in.
"I see you have some disposable chopsticks and straws, and plastic forks. Do you have any plastic knives?"

His dazed gaze lowered from me over to the containers of disposable utensils by the till. In a stupendous display of the kind of stupidity that would make him second only to a certain current American president, he reached over and fondled a plastic fork (in its individual packaging). It took several seconds, but eventually, the three overclocked neurons conjured up some additional speech.
"No, we just have plastic forks."

That, of course, wasn't true -- I had just noted to him that they also had chopsticks and such -- but it was enough of an answer that I just accepted it and moved on.

That is by far not the first time I've ever confused the youth of Taiwan (in service positions) with simple questions. Once, at a "Japanese" restaurant around the corner from work, while trying to decipher the disorganized lunch menu, I inquired about their lunch offerings:
"What noodle soups do you have?"

The boy drew his finger down the menu, and his answer was swift and confident ...

... but missed the point, and wrong anyway. There were 4.
"No no, what kind of noodle soups do you have?"

But I quickly stopped and decided to give up on it. I picked a noodle soup item that I saw out of the menu.
"What's in the '[undescriptive name] noodle soup'?"

And that did it: I crashed the boy's brain. He stood there, rebooting his head, and mustered a small response.
"I don't know."

A rather long pause followed. I suppose he was expecting me to take that non-answer and run with it. I didn't. He waited, pencil poised to take my order, ready for me to run with that non-answer. I still didn't. He waited a bit more, and then I won out:
"I'll ... uh ... go ask."

And there it was, the next logical step in providing service. But I had had enough fun for the day, and stopped him as he was about to walk off and ask. I just ordered that dish. And when it came, I wished I hadn't (a) stopped him, and (b) ordered the dish.

These are not, unfortunately, isolated incidents. The young people of Taiwan are dropped IQ points like deuces, and they've long lost the ability to even realize they are.

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