Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Korean Mid-term Elections, and Memories About People and Phones

I have a hate love relationship with cellphones. Back when I was in college I wrote a musical called "The Assholes on Cellphones Bloodbath," or something like that. It was about people who talk on their cellphones too loudly and yell personal information about themselves to bystanders who could care less. The offenders in my play all died because one of the douche bags on his cell phone was driving a golf cart while talking on his phone and killed the blow fish restaurant chef who was supposed to prepare their meal that night, the assistant prepared the meal instead and everyone died instantly.

Ironically on the day when I took that play into getting it work shopped I bought my first cellphone, and tried to call my friend while riding a bike. As I dialed I noticed a downed power line. Not wanting to ride my bike over a downed power line I slammed the front break of my bike with my free hand and went over the handle bars of my bike, and landed face to face with the downed power line.

Since then I have grown to love the convenience of having a cellphone I still find some people lack manners when they use them. It is with this prejudice that I initially condemned this campaign ad for a candidate for the Mayor of Jinju.
The sign says that this guy is going to listen to the sound of the citizens. He probably wanted to look attentive to the plight of the people and so he pictured himself with his phone up to his ear. Unfortunately, to me the message that the picture sends, is that he is a self important turd farmer who will cut you off mid sentence to answer his phone so that he can arrange a meeting with his Elementary school classmates.

I have nothing against this guy personally, nor do I have evidence that he owns a turd farm, but when I saw that picture I was reminded quickly of one of the most bizarre conversations that I had ever had. This conversation happened with an English professor at a university in Jinju, and stands out in my memory as a conversation where I was both appalled and amused by the audacious lack....I don't know....The professor defiantly lacked something, marbles, scruples, a sense of how humans actually communicate with each other.

The Story of Doctor Ahn

Doctor Ahn was an administrator at a university in Jinju. I'm not sure what his job was exactly, and he was one of those Korean guys who was in a high position but didn't seem to know anything. One day I happened out to Paris Baguette, and Dunkin Donuts to get a cream cheese pasterie and coffee. I was heading to the classroom building in order to prepare some lesson plans, and that is where I was intercepted by Dr. Ahn. He immediately took notice of me and my cream cheese pasterie.

Dr. Ahn: Oh James, it is nice to see you. What is that, oh it looks good.

Me: Hi Dr. Ahn.

Dr. Ahn: Is that coffee? Why don't you come up to my office and have some coffee with me?

Me: Uh, alright.

Up in Dr. Ahn's office.

My pasterie was in a see through plastic bag and sitting on Dr. Ahn's table)

Dr. Ahn: How are you James?

Me: Fine.

Dr. Ahn: I see you have some bread. Is it delicious bread?

Me: I don't know, I haven't tried it yet.

Dr. Ahn: I see you have some coffee too. Do you enjoy coffee?

Me: Yes

Dr. Ahn: Do you enjoy coffee when you teach classes?

Me: Sometimes I have a cup in the classroom.

Dr. Ahn: What do you think of the native English speakers who enjoy coffee during class?

Me: I don't know.


Dr. Ahn: I heard there was one of the native English speakers who enjoys coffee when there is class.

Me: Okay.

Dr. Ahn: (Distracted by the pasterie) Yes.

Me: So....

Dr. Ahn: Ah yes. Do you think that it is okay for the native English speakers to go back to their dormitory and enjoy coffee during the class?

Me: I don't think so.

Dr. Ahn: I heard there was a native English speakers who enjoys coffee in his room during class.

Me: Sorry to hear that.

Dr. Ahn: Can I have some of your uh bread. (As he was reaching over to take a piece)

Me: I guess.

Dr. Ahn: A this is good bread. Do you enjoy bread often? Why don't you have some bread?

Me: It is mine after all.

At this point Dr. Ahn looked distracted. He then picked up his phone and made a phone call to another guy who worked at the university, seeming to forget that we were having a conversation, while enjoying a piece of my "bread."

I don't really fault people for answering their phone when they are in a conversation with me. I know that in polite society when a call is important the other person will excuse themselves and talk to the person who called them, if it isn't too important they usually say tell the other person that they are busy and will call them back. Rarely does a person enter a face to face conversation with another to pick up their own phone and make a call just because they happened to think of the person they are calling, without any warning.

I held on until the end of the conversation which lasted for about five minutes. Dr. Ahn described to the person on the other end exactly what he was doing and how he "was enjoying coffee and bread with James. " The subject of the conversation was about how the other person had to cancel their classes for some reason and about how he needed a replacement. When he hung up the conversation went a little bit like this.

Dr. Ahn: James do you know Brian? (Pseudonym)

Me: Yes.

Dr. Ahn: Yes I was just talking to him on the phone. He cancelled a class that he had to teach. I told him about how we are enjoying coffee and bread in my office.

Me: Really?

Dr. Ahn: Yes. Oh hey, are you busy tonight?

Me: No.

Dr. Ahn: Why don't you teach tonight's class for Brian?

I never mentioned that Dr. Ahn wasn't very quick, but I think you get the point. By now he had eaten well over half of the pasterie that I had brought, and he wasn't shy about finishing the whole thing off. I swore an oath to return to his office to enjoy some coffee again, but retraced my steps to Paris Baguette to replace the cream cheese pasterie that I had missed out on.

Rumour has it that Dr. Ahn got turned out to pasture and works a twelve pyeong plot of land harvesting turds. Perhaps he is the campaign manager for the gentleman in the picture. I have no doubt that I was well liked by this Ahn fellow. He saw me on the street once and invited me back up to his office for more coffee. I guess by allowing him to eat my "bread," I made him feel important and respected. Others have similar stories where he would just appear in their dorm rooms to request favors.

I guess I just have to try my best to sleep at night knowing he's out there,,,,stealing some one's pastries.


hwarangi said...

If you have any more stories like this one, I'd like to hear 'em.

3gyupsal said...

Judging by the flurry of comments recently at this blog (3-4 in the last week) I think I should just make this whole blog about my experiences with Koreans and baked goods.

hwarangi said...

It's an untapped niche.