Funny thing about living in a country where you don't speak the language is that simple things you take for granted about being able to understand, like if there was a sudden dire threat to the country announced over the TV or the social niceties of sending the proselytizing Christians away from your godless abode, aren't givens anymore. Gwen and Samson (and Jane when she was here) have been awesome helping me out, but I kind of feel like a stupidly helpless baby sometimes that I can't set up my own bank account or that I turned on the floor heating by accident when it was 96 degrees outside and I was already baking.
For someone who has been self sufficient and ruthlessly independent for most of her life, this graceful reliance on others is not an easily learned skill. I'm trying to be easy on myself--and I have been pretty laid back about everything. Sometimes, though, like today, this infantile communication strikes me as incredibly funny.
I was woken up by a banging on my door. I assumed it was Mr. Yu, my landlord, because there is a key-entry gate for our building. I have been woken up by people buzzing the box at the gate outside before--and that was a shock since I had no idea why my wall was suddenly singing some bizarre Korean tune in badly digitized tones. However, it was not Mr. Yu, but a youngish woman in a uniform speaking to me in Korean. Blarg! Korean first thing in the morning??? Never.
I greeted her with my stupid little "annyeong haseyo" and she proceeds to to say a whole lot of words to me. I say "hanguk-mal aniyo," meaning approximately, Korean no. She holds up something that looks like a UPS signature catcher and says "check." I let her in to "check" whatever she needs to check, which appears to be the gas.
When she is finished she shows me the screen with numbers on it and then a blank spot for me to sign. I don't know what I just signed. I may have given her my support in reunification of the peninsula. Or that I'll vote for Ron Paul in the upcoming US primary. Or that if my cat eats her baby (a secret Korean fear that is part of the root cause of their general dislike of felines), I will gladly offer up my first born to replace the lost child.
I suspect I agreed to pay a gas bill for however much she read that I had used... but it's quite fun to imagine other possibilities...