Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ian's Friend

You will be happy to know, I'm sure, that Ian has not lost his ability to attract unwanted attention from unwanted individuals.  His charms work even in Korea.

There is a woman who lives in our building and sits near the bus stop and sells vegetables everyday.  She's probably just shy of fifty.  She's a bit on the round side and her gait is more of a wobbly shuffle than a walk.  Teeth in Asia are not all that great, but hers are especially bad.  She's missing a front tooth and the rest look like they're losing the will to live.  We noticed her not long after we arrived.  She has a very raspy voice and each utterance of hers comes in a breathy burst of effort.  We couldn't help but laugh a little to ourselves when we overheard her on our way to work.

Since then, we've had more and more contact with this woman.  About two months ago she got into the elevator with Ian and asked (gestured, really, she doesn't speak any English) where I was, since she had always seen us together.    A little before Halloween (when Ian and I were carrying bags of candy to school for our students) she got into the elevator with us and upon mistaking the shopping bags of candy for our intended lunch, told us that it would make us fat.  About a week after that she got into the elevator with me and she was in tears, but she said nothing to me.  Two weeks later she stopped Ian on his way home from the bus stop.  She was distraught.  She grabbed his hands and mimed a story that involved something small being killed by a blow to the head.  Was it a child that she spoke of?  A small dog?  A cat?  Ian couldn't tell; but, he listened to her sob filled story.  She gave him two small green pumpkins for his kindness.  You may remember seeing them on top of our television.  Since that incident she has stopped us every time she sees us.  Once she gave us orange-colored dduk.  She's come over while we were ordering toast sandwiches.  The woman behind the counter, usually friendly, was cold to her.  No one else in the neighborhood seems to like her.  This morning she appeared as we left our apartment building's parking lot.  It seemed that she wanted to talk, but we had to catch our buses.

We'll never know what she's trying to tell us.  Even if our Korean improves greatly, the way she speaks will surely impede us.  She's always alone and probably just needs someone to share things with.

You see, Ian's special gift is alive and well in Korea.

As for my day, it ended early as my last class was canceled.  I sat in a coffee shop next door and read until I was ready to hop a cab home.  Ian's day did not end so happily.  He recently switched books for his Fluent 3 class because most of them had already used the old one.  He noticed that his students all had a different book than the one he was going to use.  Assuming it was a mistake, he made them all copies from his book.  Ten minutes into his class, the principle comes in and tells him that, no, he is to use this other book (which he had never seen).  He had to teach the rest of the lesson with a completely unfamiliar book.  They worked through the book together, so the class was fine.  But, the book is poorly written and horribly sexist, opening with the outdated argument about which sex puts in more work in an average day.  Oh, Korea.

Enjoy your Thursdays!  Good night!


  1. Well, it may be uncomfortable but it sounds like that woman needs a little kindness. I'm proud that she's getting a little from you both.

    The confusion at the school is just so odd. It would be different if it wasn't almost a daily thing.

  2. Awe, My heart goes out to that woman. I too am glad that you both show a little kindness.