Tag Archives: Bus Drivers

Friday Collision

4 Apr

I’m in the middle of my third period fifth grade class, partially pretending to check some of my students’ review assignments and partially day dreaming about what I will do after I get off of work. For the first time in months, all the windows in the classroom are open and I’m not royally pissed about it. The midday weather is gorgeous and the breeze that’s coming in isn’t freezing for once.

As I’m still daydreaming, my co-teacher begins to explain the art project we will be working on for the remainder of class and I poke my head out the window just in time to notice a bus jump the curb and smash into a light post on the street in front of the school. I’m so surprised that the words “holy fuck” almost slip from my lips.

After the kids begin working on their projects I tell my co-teacher about the accident and we both stare out the window at the scene trying to dissect what happened. The light pole that the bus ran into is completely bent sideways and resting in the branches of a nearby cherry blossom tree

“I didn’t see any other vehicle hit the bus before it crashed into the pole.”
“Maybe the driver was drunk.”
“I wonder if something malfunctioned on the bus.”
“He was probably talking on his handphone.”

She returns to her desk and starts explaining the next instructions for the art project to the kids while at the same time grabbing for her camera and motioning for me to gt some shots of the action unfolding outside. By now an ambulance, two squad cars and another bus have arrived. The passengers are taken away while the driver stays to talk with the police.

It’s exciting because this is the second time this week (and really since I’ve been in Korea) that I’m seeing police doing actual police work.

Last Tuesday while out for dinner with some friends, I saw the police arresting what looked like a drunken teenager after he had crashed his fancy Hyundai into another car. They even had him handcuffed. I didn’t even know Koren cops carried handcuffs. Actually, up until then I didn’t think Korean cops did much beyond walking down the block in droves of 10-15 men intimidating everyone in their path (ajummas and grade schoolers included).

I snap a few shots of the accident and chuckle at how excited my co-teacher is about it, despite the horrible picture quality.  Neither of us really cared if anyone was hurt in the collision. It seems we were both open to any and all distractions to help get through our Friday classes. Do I dare say that we actually bonded over someone else’s misfortune?

At lunch she tells me that she posted the photos I took of the crash (I have no clue where) and that most of the people who looked at them were worried that someone might have gotten injured.

“Am I a crazy person for not caring?” she asks.

I grin and shake my head.

Like me,  she’s not crazy; just generally interested in other peoples’ fuck-ups.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

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3 Things I Don’t Get About Korea (and 3 Coping Methods)

4 Oct

I’m not real big on lists these days, but I’ve been lazy lately and this will clear my head of several blog post ideas that I’ve been harboring for over a week now. Let me mention, however, that this list is not at all complete, and I don’t intend to finish it. There’s a lot of shit about life in the R.O.K. that makes me pause and ponder (like why the hell the electricity keeps going out in my apartment), but if I spent my time writing about all the weird crap that goes on in this country, I wouldn’t have any time to actually enjoy it. I picked these three anomalies because they’re the ones that–despite encountering the most–continue to perplex the hell out of me. Feel free to drop your own Korean oddities in the comments section.

#1. Eternal Traffic Lights
I live next to a five street intersection that I cross every morning on my way to the bus stop. If I time it just right I can make it to the corner just as the light changes allowing me to cross without breaking stride. If I time it wrong however, I could end up standing there for nearly 10 minutes–I shit you not. I don’t get it. Why the hell should a man be late because of a traffic light? I’ve literally watched three busses pass me by while I wait, stranded on a concrete island, held there by the menacing Don’t Walk sign. People on the bus stare at me from their moving oasis as if to say “look at this idiot. He should have left his house earlier. And what the fuck is up with his hair?”

Needless to say, I do what any normal schmuck would do and J-walk on to salvation. But this method has consequences; mainly in the form of dirty glares form the old Korean women hawking produce and milk on the corner. They look at me as if I’ve just committed murder in broad daylight. What the fuck do they expect me to do? “Sorry Mr. Principal. I was late to work because your country’s dumb ass traffic light wouldn’t turn me loose.” Fuck it. I live life on the edge.

#2. Lunatic Bus Drivers
Yes, all Koreans seem to drive crazy, but in my book, bus drivers are the worst on the peninsula. On my way to and from work I catch the smaller buses  that go up and down the hills that surround Busan. The drivers whip around blind corners as if they’re in a high-speed chase with the kimchi police. Why, my friends, must I fear for my life during my morning commute?

The solution? Bus Surfing. A girl from back home taught me this one: stand in the middle of the isle facing the front of the bus, extend your arms and spread your legs apart for stability, then ride that sucker balancing like a pro until A: you make it to your stop (provided to you don’t get punched in the face by an angry passenger), or B: the driver takes a sharp turn that sends your dumb ass flying into the side of the bus (the latter happened to me on the last of two attempts). Bus surfing uphill sucks, but coming down it’s pure adrenaline.

3. Poo Paper
Koreans don’t like to flush their toilet paper after making the swipe. Instead they toss it a trash bin next to the toilet, which if not emptied regularly has the effect of making the entire bathroom smell like boiled port-a-potty stew. In most cases (especially in subway stations), there’s not even a lid on the poo paper bin! So along with the smell, you get to see Mr. Kim’s shit streak plastered on a small white canvass.

The reason for this madness? I’ve been told the Korean sewage system can’t handle the extra task of flushing paper along with floaties, but I don’t buy it. I’d expect this in a place like Costa Rica or some other third world country, but Korea is pretty advanced. Hell, their hand dryers are more powerful than most American built cars. I find it hard to believe that they can’t develop a system that can handle our disposable butt rags.

In some bathrooms the toilet paper is either non-existent or even outside of the stall. Imagine making that discovery after dropping your load. You’re all set to clean up and get on with your life when you realize there’s no paper to wipe your fanny with. You walk bowl-legged out of the stall trying desperately not to let your drawers touch your soiled bum until you locate a dispenser (which hopefully you find), only to hobble your shitty ass back to the safe zone to finish your deed. I pray I’m never caught in this situation.

Avoid the poo paper dilemma by either keeping a stash of it on you, or by securing some before entering the stall; and unless you’re at your own apartment (where you can dispose of it in whatever way you choose) or the apartment of a friend who fears havng a clogged toilet, flush that shit straight to hell.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

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