Personal Space and lack thereof...

There are many things about Korea I will miss.
This particular blog is not about any of those things.
There is a little concept we Canadians like to call “personal space” and while I understand that by growing up in the second largest country in the world, I have been afforded a tad more of this then someone who had the providence to be born in, oh I don’t know, Calcutta perhaps? Understanding this fact does not deter me from wanting to shove back when the old Korean woman elbows me in the stomach in order to ensure her place in the subway line, or the violent urge to throw my coffee at the driver of the motor bike that just clipped me….because it was driving on the fucking sidewalk. A year in Asia has neither lessened my urge to kill regarding these people who have clearly never seen or even considered the idea that SOME people might think it’s fucking rude to invade their fucking space never mind assault them in some manner while doing so.

Nor has it diminished my response of incredulousness when I witness events such as a young girl getting knocked down by an older Korean man on his cell phone who does not stop to see if she is alright or help her pick up her scattered belongings, or a young man try his best to clean up the steaming hot latte that was just spilled all over the front of his suit because of an old Korean woman who clearly had somewhere she needed to be in a damn hurry.

I have started to elbow back damnmit, and you know something else? I don’t care whose dentures I knock out while doing so. Today was the final fucking straw. I saw a woman running for the bus as I was about to climb on it this afternoon, and being the well brought up, courteous and respectful woman that I am, decided to pause and take a sip of water to let said woman climb aboard ahead of me. Without a moment’s hesitation and without even acknowledging that I had done her any sort of favor, she placed BOTH HANDS on my chest and PUSHED ME out of the way so she could get on before me. Water seeping through my shirt I gritted my teeth and got on. I never thought I’d be the sort of person who would have to resist the urge to punch an old woman in the face. Life is funny sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather slither through the busy streets of a throbbing city (did that sound vaguely sexual to anyone else?) than mosey on down a side road in the middle of the countryside any day of...well…my life. But in order for one to avoid being mowed down by fellow pedestrians here in good ol’ SK, one has to be proactive by anticipating the crowds coming towards you while navigating the ebb and flow of the wave of people you have found yourself in the midst of. I’m damn good, if I do say so myself. Gone are the days when I would bungle my way along the sidewalk, transfixed and dwarfed by the sheer volume of “stuff” going on around me. I can take it in, all of it, and never miss a step on cobblestone side streets all while wearing my killer red pumps. Which is why getting smashed in the ribs when trying to be nice really pisses me off. Why getting clipped by a scooter when I’m minding my own business reminds me of how good we have it back home, as far as personal space goes at any rate. I’ve made a consistent, conscious effort to get/stay the hell out of everyone’s way on these busy streets, and today made me recall a time when I didn’t necessarily need to do so. This is something about Korea I won’t miss, and something I will greet with open arms upon my return.
And speaking of personal space? Did I mention I’ve been working at the same school as well as living with my boyfriend in a two-room apartment for the past year?
Life lessons, thy name is Korea…


vagabondshandi said…
You're hilarious Steph. There you go, you don't have to keep trying to figure out what to do with your life. Write funny books to support your acting habit. Done.
Nicholas said…
England is almost the way damn way - I have never wanted to actively beat the shit out of so many people before in my life

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