Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Episode 29: In Which DFM Brings Out The Dark Side In Korean Girls, And Chews The Heads Off Fish

The first couple of days of this week were marked by a "severe" cold snap. Severe that is for the Koreans, who were wearing winter coats inside, but I must say that 1 degree centigrade doesn't quite make for Arctic conditions where I usually live. That said, compared to the temperatures in the high teens we've been getting the previous week the change was still unpleasant. It also made me realise that I have a "clothing gap" between my light shell of a coat that doesn't really keep out the water when it rains, and my ski jacket that will probably be too warm even for the coldest of Korean winters. Luckily I noticed my local Korean sweat shop sells fleecy jackets that I might be able to get for a cheap price if and when the need arises.

With the cold weather, some Koreans have gone seemingly crazy. A Korean friend even told me that the two Seoul subway companies have a mental health counsellor on staff now because employee stress has risen as a result of dealing with the ever increasingly stressed out passengers.

How does this directly effect me? Well, the hard work the two Seoul subway companies spent to help create a respectful environment during my four month absence from Korea, seems to be for naught. On at least three separate occasions on Tuesday, an old Korean woman tried to sneak in to the subway train before even one person had left.

To put this in perspective, the behaviour of a fair number of Koreans in subways is rather rude by "Western standards," but a pet peeve of most of the "foreigners" I talk to is the fact that the people waiting outside the train will try to sneak in before everyone coming out of the train has left. I have to admit that I also get annoyed by this, but usually they only try to sneak on just before the last two people leave, so I can forget about it. What really irks me though, is when an old Korean woman (it's always an old Korean woman; they're the rudest of all Koreans, I'm sorry to say) gets paranoid and tries to push people out of the way to get to an empty seat that doesn't exist. It irks everyone else too, because most people would have given her their seat anyway (not me though, because they annoy me). On the subway on Tuesday though, I saw an old Korean woman try to sneak onto the train before the one person leaving had even taken a step. This man put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her back off the train, and gave her a short lecture on not being rude. This man is my hero, and this moment was definitely the highlight of the week so far for me.

Another funny story involved Sticker Girl at my school (everyone remembers Sticker Girl, right?) The story involves a new teacher from Paris who I had to show around my school to give her an idea of what to expect and how to teach for my company. Since I knew it would be tough for her on her first day, I tried to get her to sit by a friendly child so that she could feel welcome. Unfortunately, I didn't think things through clearly because Sticker Girl was quite cold toward the new teacher. Afterwards she (the teacher) asked me what she had done wrong. I told her, "nothing, Sticker Girl has a crush on me, and she views you as the enemy because all the boys said you were pretty." The new teacher said "oh yes, I didn't realise that, she must really hate me." She's only 6 years old, but she's already mastered the Western female art of being overly jealous. Good work Sticker Girl.

In other exciting occurances, I met Perry again on Tuesday (Tuesday was a good day). He had been on a trip for the Korean government, leading a team of Korean youth up mountains in Italy, apart as well as being overly busy with his booming public speaking/personal motivation business. As a result he had not been climbing since July, but when he returned, it was "business as usual" and I went over to his house after climbing for some delicious food. This time his wife was not home, so we were forced to make do the best two "bachelors" can do. Perry bought some Korean spicy ramyeon noodles (which aren't so spicy for me any more) and tofu. He then mixed this all together with an egg and microwaved some fish that we ate head, bones, skin, tail and all, which is ironic since Koreans will peel all of their fruit before eating it because it's either sprayed with "chemicals" or "not delicious."

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