A riot is the language of the unheard.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
This quote is fitting because yesterday I threw a little bit of a riot of my own. I had a major communication breakdown with some kind souls from my contract company. Something about getting a bank account and being picked up at 10 AM, and then something about a vet appointment that required a translator to attend. It resulted in an admittedly unpleasant phone call to my dearest J, who saved me from my close-to-tantrum self by leaving work to help sort it all out. Don’t feel too sorry for him, he got a functioning Korean bank account out of the ordeal!
What on earth does this all mean? Yes, the sad and looming realization has come. My Korean (yes, my two word vocabulary) is no longer sufficient enough to get by. I’m really, really going to have to learn a lot more than “hello!” and “thank you”. I have almost nailed goodbye, but people always say different things so I am not there yet.
I am using my fun Korean phrasebook to get acquainted with important cultural phrases, such as:
Or, my personal favorites:
Is it just me or is the fourth grader inside each of us what drives us to look up bad words (or silly words) in a language before we learn anything of value? Well, I really should get serious, because I need to stop ending up in situations that could have been much easier with just a little bit of study. Or start actually carrying the dang phrasebook with me when we go places.
Take, for instance, purchasing my coat. Our stupid air shipment still has yet to arrive with my immediate needs, and will not arrive in time for our trip tomorrow to Seoul, so I broke down and had to purchase a coat with a hood.
Oh, but this isn’t just any coat. This coat has a story.
This weekend, when I was still contemplating the coat situation (read: lying to myself about my cold toleration level), we browsed around the grocery store for something to keep me warm. Here, the grocery stores we frequent, Home Plus and e-Mart, are like a Super Target but with more produce. They have EVERYTHING. Ok, well everything except a can opener. They were out of those. And I have a lot of cans. I digress. Again.
We took a look around and the cheapest coat I could find was this fabulous orange number with a fur hood that cost about $50 USD.. or so we thought. [[Caveat: if you know me, I’m a bargain shopper. I purchased my awesome ski coat (that’s in the #$%*#@! air shipment) at the Columbia outlet in Houston for $50. So I just couldn’t bear to spend more than that on an “interim” coat.]]
So. We took the coat to check out, and it rang up 99,000 won. That’s about $100 USD. Huh? There was a little sign clipped on the coat, which happened to be on the mannequin (maybe that’s why I liked it so much) that said 49,000 won! After a lot of confusion between the non-English speaking cashier and some other e-Mart staff, it was determined that the coat was not discounted. So I said, with my bargain-hunter gut, I’ll pass this time. Later I found out that the 49,000 meant that the cheapest item displayed on the mannequin was 49,000. That meant the jeggings on the mannequin, not the coat.
Fast forward to today. Nearly 10 stores, lots of depressing price tags, and one exhausted husband later, I have come to discover that buying a coat in the US was probably the best decision I made. Except for the part where I packed it in the #$%*#@! air shipment. All of the coats I’ve seen around here run anywhere from $175 to more than $300 USD equivalent. Holy price shock, batman, not happening!
So, at 9PM this evening, my poor, tired darling and I schlepped back to e-Mart where he begrudgingly dealt with my indecision that led to my final purchase of… wait for it… the original orange coat. I have to say, I was able to successfully converse a little with my awesome personal shopper, who is the e-Mart employee assigned to manage a small area of the fashion department until midnight closing. This was done mostly utilizing poor English phrasing and her understanding of “man”, “woman”, “price”, “color”, and “do you think it will match my boots?”. She did, after all, make the final decision to go with orange and not mustard yellow. Look, guys, it’s awesome, let’s all revel in it:
Was it worth it? It was worth it. Be honest.
While I may miss my fur balls that were dropped off at boarding today (check ’em out here), I am not missing their hair all over this brand new beauty. And now I shall go pack my bags with the rest of my necessary winter wear for Seoul… which includes some AMAZINGly warm fur-lined leopard print leggings of which I may or may not have purchased two pairs. I would take some shots but you may not want to witness that.