Last Minute Culture

They told us when we got here.  This is a “last minute culture.”  If they warned us once, they warned us a dozen times.  But that doesn’t stop it from pissing me right off.  Koreans and Americans seem to draw the (fine) line between “last minute” and wholly inconsiderate in different places.

It seems like the more I am excited about some after-school activity, the more likely the school is to drop something on me.  One such incident happened last night.  I’m not sure why it pissed me off so bad, but it did.  In fact, I was so pissed off last night that I feel a little guilty.  Here’s why.

I take the bus home at 5:45 on Thursdays, and I get home a little after 6pm.  On Monday, I agreed to meet a group of friends for dinner at an Indian restaurant at 7:30pm.  That would give me just enough time to change clothes and catch the subway (1 hour trip).

One of the higher-ups in the school walked into my office a little after 5:00 yesterday.  “Wirriam, do you like pizza?”  I get questions like this all the time (totally random), so I said “sure, I like pizza.”  Unfortunately, that was the wrong answer.  “Good, I order pizza.  You stay.”  I explained that I had to catch the bus.  “I take you home.”  Damn.  I decided to be honest, “I have dinner with friends tonight.”  That didn’t help either.  “I take you home after.  Only take hour.”  DAMNIT!

He was trying to be nice, of course, so I did my best to be polite.  I didn’t complain and I told him the pizza was delicious (it wasn’t).  A little after 7:00, he told me it was time to go.  We hopped in his car and began the scariest drive of my life.  He seemed to be under the impression that neither the gas nor the accelerator work if they’re not pressed against the floorboard.  My neck still hurts.

As we approached the first intersection, I assumed he saw the car coming at us (on my side).  He didn’t.  He blew through the stop sign and turned left immediately in front of the other car.  The other driver didn’t see us until the last second, but he was able to lock up his brakes and avoid a nasty wreck.  Fortunately, he kept his car on the road and avoided a trip into the ditch.  If my colleague had any idea that we were nearly killed, he didn’t show it.  I could feel my heartbeat in my toes for the next ten minutes.

A few minutes later, we reached the on-ramp for the highway that leads directly to my neighborhood.  He blew right by it.  When I looked at him, obviously confused, he said the most ironic thing I’ve heard in a long time.  “No take highway.  Not safe.  Many crazy driver – don’t watch road.”

After a ridiculously long detour, during which he showed me his house, his church, and his favorite restaurant, we ended up in my neighborhood.  I decided not to let the night go to waste, so I changed clothes and headed downtown.  And, to my surprise, I ran into some friends and had a great night.  The fact that I ran into them at GoGo Bar was unfortunate…but I made do.

Until next time.


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