4.24.2010

7-11 smartass and language mishaps in a cafe.

The kid who works at the 7-11 up the road from my house is a goddamn smartass. Every time I go in there he shouts, "어서 오세요!" at the top of his lungs, standing up straight like he's in the army. Then, when I get up to the counter, he always gives me a little Korean quiz. I can't do or buy anything without there being unnecessary questions, worded differently each time.

"Give me two packs of Marlboro Reds please."
"Which kind?"
"Marlboro Red."
"Marlboro Red?"
"Yes."
"How many?"
"Two packs."

He knows goddamn well what brand I smoke and how many packs I buy at a time. He's just pushing the fucking limits to find out exactly how much Korean I speak, and what of my Korean is simply well-rehearsed and phonetic. He's lucky he manages to pull off a genuinely kind, teasing smile while he does this, and that it doesn't actually come across as a smirk. But he better watch his ass or we're gonna switch to English next time and find out how much attention he paid in his high school classes.

Also, the following things happened today, in a coffee shop somewhere in Myeongdong:

A girl reached for an empty chair at my table and began to ask if it was alright to take it, when I looked up at her and she saw that I was a foreigner (I dye my hair 'Korean' and wear sunglasses outside, just so I can create sneak-attack moments like this -- how dare I look like a Korean from behind?). She then literally ran away. Her friend came back a few seconds later and asked for the chair in English.

Two college guys sat at the table directly across from me and had a very loud, very slow conversation about how hard they've been studying English lately. They did this after they noticed that the book on my table was a Korean book, and what I was writing in my notebook was in Korean. Which they discussed with each other in Korean. Which I could hear and understand.

A Korean guy and an English guy came out to smoke together. The Korean guy watched me writing in my notebook over my shoulder for a few seconds, then turned back to his friend and, in English (obviously), exclaimed that that foreign girl behind him was writing very fast in Korean. I understood this, of course. Because I also speak English.

7 comments:

Tiffani said...

hehehe

Random said...

"A girl reached for an empty chair at my table and began to ask if it was alright to take it, when I looked up at her and she saw that I was a foreigner (I dye my hair 'Korean' and wear sunglasses outside, just so I can create sneak-attack moments like this -- how dare I look like a Korean from behind?). She then literally ran away. Her friend came back a few seconds later and asked for the chair in English.''

This happens to me a lot. It makes me want to cry.

gwern said...

> I dye my hair 'Korean'

Wait, how does that work?

I'm no Picasso said...

That's my little hilarious joke about how many hair dye color options there are in this country, is all.

Marilyn said...

People are so awesome. Do you have really good hearing? or something?

I'm no Picasso said...

No! That's the thing! This all happened out in the back garden, which is ridiculously small and closed in. We were all no more than five to ten feet away from each other. I could hear everything going on around me clear as a bell. It's just that people get mixed up when there are different languages and language abilities at play, I guess.

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