Pedestrian issues.

I'm in a pretty good mood, these days. Riding that high that comes after you've been ill for a long time, when everything feels amazing because nothing hurts and nothing is dripping out of your face and you can breathe and eat... that kind of shit. And to put work into perspective, I technically have four months left. Yes. But I have a week and a half until final exams, and two weeks after that until summer vacation. Then a month of camps and vacation (my favorite time of year -- this time minus horribly timed contract re-signing/visa med check -- it'll be the first summer vacation I've had where I actually get all of my vacation days off, and don't have to spend two of them at work and the hospital!). After that, it's eight weeks until the end, including one off for Chuseok and two other holidays, plus midterm exams. I'm not nearly there, but in a way I am.

So suffice it to say that I was shocked to find myself nearly yanking a big man out of his big truck by his collar in a fit of rage this afternoon.

A few months back, I was having a rough time of it with some eye trouble and some typical doctor bullshit in relation to that. We had just come out from a doctor's appointment which both myself and B had taken off of work to make, during which the doctor had told me there was nothing he could do for me -- not even a place he could recommend -- and then charged me a good chunk of change for absolutely nothing, when B and I were crossing at a crosswalk when the cars we were crossing in front of us had a red light. About halfway through, someone decided they didn't want to wait for the green, and suddenly jerked toward us, causing us to have to jump back out of the way to avoid getting hit. And I'm not proud of this, but I kicked the car's fender as it zoomed past, narrowly missing our toes.

B was mortified, and I think, more than anything, scared by my reaction. He's always on me about how my temper is going to get me seriously hurt someday. And he's right. It wasn't becoming, or smart, behavior. But I have certain gut reactions when I feel a physical threat that I can't always completely control.

Today, I was walking on the footpath intended for pedestrian traffic around a blind curve in my neighborhood, when a massive industrial cargo truck decided to do an illegal u-turn and nearly run me over in the process. As the huge smoking vehicle came barreling toward me, I leaped backwards and then continued to scramble backwards as he continued to pull his truck toward me, looking me dead in the eye. So I suddenly stopped and stood my ground. He glared at me from behind the windshield and then the fucker revved his engine. Revved his fucking engine. I not-so-politely shouted out where he could go and what he could do when he got there, and then I felt a familiar white fog rolling in -- the white fog that comes in just before I don't remember what it is exactly I just did.

But in a split second, I shook it off. Some old timers who gather under a partition nearby to play Go-Stop and get shitfaced in the middle of the day had started to make their way over, having observed the entire interaction, shaking their fists at the driver. They see me walking home every single day, and I regularly buy fruit from one of their wives. They weren't pleased. So I shook it off. I took a deep breath, bowed to the old men and went on my way.

I'm a teacher. My students are all around at all times, and I regret enough having shouted out the words I did in that instant. I didn't need to do anything else I would regret. But, as I said in a text to B, God would have had to help him, had that thought not been in the front of my mind.

Standing at a red light waiting to cross a few blocks further along my way, I suddenly felt what seemed like someone poking me in the back. Prepared in no shape whatsoever for whatever violation of my personal space this might be now, I slowly turned around. An ajumma held up one of Vera's hairs pinched between two fingers. "You have a few of these hairs on your shirt. I wonder where they came from...."

"I have a cat, so..."

"Oh. Well, that's why."

I quietly stood beside her in the rain as we continued to wait for the light to change, now seemingly somehow together. When the light changed, we crossed the street without further incident.


Sidney said...

i go to church with keunseok's family when i go and visit and one time some older ladies sat behind me and started plucking hairs off my coat. keunseok's sister thought it was hilarious and i just thought it was convenient, because i lose so many hairs every day and they always end up collecting in awkward places.

i have not, however, almost been run over by a truck. lord knows what it'd do, probably screech and jump on the trucks' grill like a monkey.

Anonymous said...

I got used to my pedestrian life being pretty dangerous and exciting, but the only time I'd get real rage-y was exactly when my kids were around.

There was a big intersection in front of my school where most of my students would cross in the morning if they didn't live right beside the school. This was only a T-crossing, and they conscripted three crossing guards every morning and afternoon, and cars would still plow through and nearly take out my grade threes and fours every morning. Once or twice I had to snatch a kid back from walking into the road as I saw a car that had no intention of stopping for the red light, and maybe once or twice I stood in front of a car attempting to rush through a red-light and kept them from moving until the light changed.