Thursday, April 3, 2008

Adventure on Line 7

Today I decided that I wanted to get out of our neighborhood and go check out the English Teacher Supply store in Nowon, which is in northern Seoul. This would be my longest solo trek from home, but I felt prepared, having looked up my route and times and armed with picture directions from a very helpful poster on Dave's ESL Cafe. I made it there just fine, browsed, bought a couple of books, and hopped back on the Subway to head home with plenty of time to grab some food before school. Right.

So, I managed to snag a seat and settled in with my iPod and The Other Boleyn Girl for a pretty lengthy ride. Then, approximately 4 stops into the ride the subway makes what seems to be a normal stop... and then doesn't start. After one announcement in Korean a few people get off the train. Since most people seem to be staying I decide I'll give it another few minutes. Then several more Korean announcements occur in rapid succession and about half the people get off the train. At this point I realize that I need to make some sort of decision, so I get off the train. It smells like burning and there is an angry mob forming around someone who looks like he probably works for the system (he was wearing a conducter hat and white gloves, I made an assumption). So, I consult my subway map, realize that transfer-wise I'm in the worst place possible, and decide that I'll try to catch a cab to my transfer point, as I have no idea where the trouble on the line is.

After hiking up the 15 flights of stairs to the street level I attempt to catch a cab. Unfortunately there is a mob of approximately 47 ajummas (older Korean women who are notoriously aggressive when it comes to transportation) and after getting physically shoved and elebowed out of the way for the 14th time I decide to walk a little farther to try and catch a cab a few blocks away.

As I'm waiting to cross the street I hear "Excuse me, excuse me!" and get a tap on the shoulder. I turned around and a young man tells me "Hello! I see you on the subway and think to myself, maybe she needs some help, so I have come to see what I can do for you." So, I pull out my subway map and show him where I'm headed. He thinks for a minute and tells me the bus is probably my best option, so he then walks me (I'm pretty sure 10 minutes out of his way) to a bus stop, consults with a few other people, and tells me where I need to go. Along the way we had a nice chat about what he's studying and how he'd lived in Seoul his entire life and had never ever been on a subway that had broken down... go figure! This was seriously the first random act of kindness I've experienced here, and it's done a lot to restore my faith in this city. So, boy who's name I can't remember, thank you so much for helping me find my way to school... even if I couldn't figure out where to make the bus transfer and ended up taking a cab to my subway transfer point... your kindness was much much appreciated.


Allison said...

That is so incredibly nice!

Anonymous said... now know about ajummas. That makes you almost a Korean.