When Stan Lin (林助家) saw the hit film Cape No. 7 (海角七號), he felt he could identify with the lead character, Aga (阿嘉), played by actor Van Fan (范逸臣).
“It was like watching my own story,” he said.
Lin, whose nickname in Taiwanese is also pronounced “Aga” (阿家), is a mailman at the post office in Sanchung (三重), Taipei County. And like “Aga” in the film, Lin delivers mail during the day and plays in a band at night.
Aside from that, the two Agas have very different life experiences. Lin was a cook before he became a full-time mailman.
After working at several restaurants in Taipei, Lin came to see the profession as nothing but a dead end.
“The work at the kitchen was hard. You can develop your skills to a certain extent [but] you’ll soon hit the glass ceiling,” he said. “I found it hard to stick with it.”
Lin quit his job and began performing with two friends at a club in Hsinchu. Lin, who plays acoustic guitar, said the experience made him realize that music was what he really wanted to spend the rest of his life focusing on.
But Lin’s mother, afraid that her son would get too involved in his music, asked him to apply for a position as a mailman.
Lin got the job, which has helped support his real passion.
Two years ago, Lin formed a band with music teachers he met online.
The band, called “The Cook,” plays mostly at restaurants in Tamsui (淡水), Taipei County.
Lin said he was struck by the opening scene in Cape No. 7, when Aga smashes his guitar and shouts “Screw Taipei!” before leaving the city on his motorbike.
Lin said his personal story “was not as dramatic,” but that he shared the character’s frustration with the big city.
Having grown up in Changhua County, Lin said he was extremely homesick during his first few months in Taipei after moving there with his family. Lin especially missed his friends down south.
Unlike Aga in the film, who simply stashes away mail he doesn’t deliver each day, Lin said he works from 7:30am to 5pm each day and only goes home once all the mail has been delivered.
If the recipients have trouble walking downstairs to get their mail, he takes the mail directly to their apartment.
If an address is written in English, which can cause confusion in cases such as Renhua Street (仁華街) and Renhua Street (仁化街), Lin may have to make a few trips before finding the right household.
Lin has been recognized by Chunghwa Post Co (中華郵政) as one of its best employees for taking extra pains on his delivery route and for sales of the post office’s life-insurance services.
“As a mailman, your wish is simple: Either make today sunny or [let me] deliver all the mail quickly and go home early,” he said.
The fact that Lin has been a mailman for almost seven years and happens to have sung at the same restaurant as the character “Rauma” in the film — an impetuous policeman who gets into a fight with Aga — made him feel a special connection to the movie.
The post office, meanwhile, has started paying Lin extra to perform at its community events.
Lin was also asked to come up with a song for the company’s ads.
Lin said he didn’t care if he was underpaid.
“To me, music is not something you can put a price tag on,” he said.