10 September 2008

Goddamn life lessons

I dislike making a fool of myself, so it was with trepidation that I went to pay my electric and gas bill today.  You can do both from central bank locations.  The only problem is that I arrived at the one in my area via a circuitous car ride from a friend; I didn't know where the damn place was.  And in Korea, they don't use street names at all, so I couldn't find it that way, even though I knew the address.  And I don't know enough of the language yet to get directions.

How, I wondered, could I conceivably find this place without making an ass of myself?

Aha!  I will take a cab.  The taxi will find the place immediately and with absolute disregard for human life: the perfect solution.  I could pay attention on the way there, and learn the route (two miles down the street, turn right at the shattered bodies that have been crushed by a cab, cross the street...)  Everything would be solved.

The only problem was that I was unwilling to do this.  If I took a taxi to every place that was unfamiliar, I would be broke at this point.  They're cheap, but not that cheap.

No, I would have to be willing to look like a tool.

So I thought, "The hell with it" and took to the street.  I asked the first idling old lady I saw where the place was, pointing at the address I had written down.  And sure enough, she pointed and gestured: down the street, to the left.  Of course, that could mean two miles down the street... or twenty.  No way to know, since I couldn't catch any numbers in her instructions.  I can count in both of their number systems now, but that doesn't do me a lick of good if the people don't use them.

Still, I figured it would be silly to give up immediately.  I crossed the street, went to the end of the block... and there was the damn bank.  Down the street and down the block, marked with a huge sign.

And it was only then that I realized what an enormous ass I would have looked like, taking a cab. I had to be willing to go out on that limb.  It's a goddamn life lesson, is what it is.

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