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Let's Make a Connection

It's rare these days that I'm able to simply communicate with the guy at the grocery store or the shopkeeper selling me ice tea.

And I suppose I've gotten used to being a waegook without words in most situations.

But last night, it just happened. And suddenly, it was like I had always lived here.

I hopped into a taxi after going to the gym (please SPARE ME the 'why-go-to-the-gym-only-to-taxi-home?' routine and YOU talk to my foot after I make it run much longer than it would like. I'm at war with it at the moment and sometimes I have to pick my battles)

So, I say the usual thing I always say when I get into a taxi:

Me: Annyonghaseyo
Taxi: (either) Ne (or) Grunt (or) *blink blink*
Me: **address in the best Korean voice** juseyo (please)
Taxi: (see above)
Me: Kamsahamaneeda

As we're driving, he wants to take a left down a small street to make it faster. Parked, perpendicular to the street is this Korean parking combined with the largest population of space cadets on the planet equals DUH this guy has just blocked the road way.

Taxi man starts sighing and tsking and suddenly I felt the need to validate his frustration.

There's a word I know, a word I ONLY know because if the kids call me it, I'm not supposed to let them get away with it. (Most days, my classes can be filled with Korean chatter, most of which I have NO CLUE about and so they try to test me, knowing full well that 'teacher' can be taken advantage of - she doesn't know the language).

The word is babo. I think it means stupid. Or idiot. Or something not very nice but not as evil as any swear word in English.

So I tested it. I threw caution to the wind and just thought, well, he'll either get it or he'll kick me out of the cab.

Me: Babo
Taxi: Jinja babo

And then I laughed. Because jinja happens to be one of the 10 words I know in Korean. It means really. Really stupid/idiot.

And I couldn't stop laughing. Because he got it. And I got it back. And suddenly we were just two people in a cab, shaking our heads at the 'jinja babo' in the city centre.

And as I climbed the stairs to my house, I couldn't help but think, what happens if I finally get comfortable, finally figured this whole Korea thing out, and then it's time to go? What then?


Cat said…
Great post. I can communicate with taxi drivers, but still haven't had the experience where I really feel like I've had a conversation. It's really great that you took the opportunity to try out your extracurricular Korean. I'll remember, the 'babo' too. Given the traffic situation here, it's a word that definitely will come in handy.

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