Friday, March 19, 2010

Unusual Welcome

Had to make the previous post brief to hit my midnight deadline (which I need to do in order to get the appropriate date stamp). However, I wanted to share this anecdote:

I may have mentioned before that generally no one talks on the subway, especially during the morning commute. On Thursday morning, en route to BSF, I crammed into a subway car and was about to put in my headphones when I heard:  Hello? Hello. Since I was the only non-Korean in the vicinity, I assumed someone was addressing me, so I glanced around to see who it was. Turned out it was a man standing near me, and when I made eye-contact with him, he continued:  Welcome to Korea. How long have you been here? I smiled and replied that in fact it had been exactly 6 months since I arrived. He asked a few other questions, and then when I mentioned I was from California, he seemed to trail off on a tangent about oranges, as in:  California's oranges are sweet and thick, but Korean oranges are thin and small. I politely listened, and since I was transferring in one stop, it didn't seem like a big deal. 

When we got to the station, I said goodbye and sped off to catch the transfer train. As I waited for it on the platform, I happened to notice the man's reflection in a glass panel I was facing; he was in line behind me, which I thought was rather odd. When the train arrived I scurried to land a seat, aware that the man was nearby. Without looking up, I pulled out a stack of papers to grade and noticed that his pant leg was just a few inches away. It was a creepy feeling. Although I wasn't worried, once he finally moved away from me, I definitely felt relieved. 

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