A Korean Aussie adoptee goes back home for the first time. Hilarity ensues?
I had a horrible day. Actually, the last two weeks have been horrible. It’s the start of a new school year. Everyone has moved up a grade. My combined grades classes have swollen in size. Lumped with all these strange new people and missing their old teachers, my otherwise enthusiastic students have lost interest in everything apart from jumping out of their chairs to punch each other.
Teaching an 80 minute-long class of 30 kids aged between 7-13 without a Korean co-teacher to interpret my instructions had not gone well at all. So what else to do after a long day of failure apart from eating your greasy, salty feelings?
There are plenty of fried delivery chicken joints in Korea. Just call the place and a fellow on a scooter scoots a big box of fried goodness straight to your apartment door.
Yeah. Just call the chicken place. Which is easy if you can speak fluent Korean.
I’ve never done it before, but I wanted chicken so badly that I wrote a phone script in Korean on a piece of origami paper. Hello. I’d like to order delivery please. I am a foreigner so I will speak slowly. Do you understand me? Good. I would like the garlic chicken…
Hand shaking, I tapped the call button and listened to a cheery Korean phone jingle. A muffled Korean voice answered on the other end. I rattled off my spiel.
I repeated myself.
I sighed. “Sorry. Goodbye.”
I hung up. Then a few minutes later, I received a text in Korean. I can read and write Korean much better than I can hear or speak it. The text said, “Are you calling for the chicken place?”
“Yes!” I texted back. “Sorry. I’m a foreigner and I can’t speak Korean very well.”
Then my phone rang and a man’s voice started talking to me.
“Hello! This is the chicken place! Something something something blah blah blah order blah blah delivery blah blah?”
The phone signal was so terrible that I don’t think I would’ve understood the muffled voice in English either.
“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you!” I shouted in Korean. “I don’t understand! Sorry!”
“I’m going to something something something!” said the Chicken Man.
Was he saying “I will text you” ? I hung up again. Then he sent a text.
“What’s your address?”
I still wasn’t sure who this guy was and for a second I thought I got the wrong phone number and now some creepy guy is trying to stalk me!
“Are you really from the chicken place?” I texted back.
“Yes! I’m the owner. And I want to help you.”
Oh well. If he turns out to be a creepy stalker, I’ll just slam my electronic automatic-locking door in his face.
My desire for chicken possibly clouded my judgement as I texted him my address.
“What flavour do you want? Do you have cash?”
Woah! I was ordering fried chicken by text message! All my dreams were coming true.
An hour later, the Chicken Man arrived at my door, smiling, eyes twinkling, brandishing a big box of garlic chicken.
He didn’t even charge me extra for the Coke. “Eat well!” he said, and scooted away.
Sometimes Korea – and life in general – pleasantly surprises me at the most unexpected times.