Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Chatty Cabbie #2

I thought I had posted this last week, but I apparently just saved it as a draft and hadn't finished it yet. Oops. Oh well.

For some reason, I seem to get a fair share of taxi drivers that feel like chit chatting as they're taking me to work. I'm really not in the mood for it most mornings if they are struggling with the English and use more Korean than English - I just want them to pay attention to the road and get me to work. But sometimes they're friendly and speak English very well and have an interesting story or two. This past Friday, I had a driver that spoke very well and drove very slowly and carefully so he could talk and drive at the same time.

I decided to get a coffee at Starbucks after a few women decided to jump in front of me to try and catch a taxi. If you've been in Korea, you know what I'm talking about: you aren't at a taxi stand, but you're on the edge of the road obviously looking for a taxi to flag down and people come up, look at you, then stand just a little further up the road so they can catch a taxi first. Needless to say, this irritated me horribly so I just turned around and went to Starbucks to get a coffee with the extra time I now had since a taxi will almost always stop for a Korean before it stops for a foreigner.

So I left Starbucks with caffeine in hand and went back out to catch a taxi. There just happened to be a couple getting out of a taxi right in front of me at that moment, and the guy left the front door open for me. So I hopped in the front seat instead of the back seat like I usually do - sitting in back seems to lessen the fear factor while riding in these things most days. As I'm getting in the driver says, "Good morning! Where are you going today?" I was a little taken aback at first and had to pause a moment before I told him Samsung Jeonja tongyong mun.

Thus started a very long conversation on the way to work. I learned that he used to be a fairly high ranking civil engineer for a company and had been all over the world. He spoke Korean, English, Thai, Chinese, and some Hindi. He ever said a few phrases in each to demonstrate. He was now retired and chose to drive a taxi to give him something to do - as he put it, "Working keeps me strong!" His wife, however, is not a fan of his current choice of vocation. Her friends apparently always tell her things like "your husband used to have such high job, but now he has such poor job." Korea is all about appearances, so this of course reflects badly on her and their station in Korea. But hey, he's retired, let him drive a taxi to make a little bit of cash if he wants. Strangely enough, I've met many other drivers with similar backgrounds.

We then discussed Korean food, my job at Samsung, and why I wasn't married - a conversation I've had with several different people recently. He insisted that I should find a Korean engineer at Samsung and settle down and stay in Korea. A "Samsung guy" would be a good husband for me according to him. I just laughed and said that I was leaving the country next year, so I had no interest in dating or marrying right now.

It was quite a long ride since he drove pretty slowly and carefully, so we were able to have a nice conversation. I should learn how to call and ask for certain taxi numbers so I can get drivers that are friendly and I can talk to on the ride to work.


  1. A "Samsung guy" would be a good husband for me ... that just made me chuckle :) You probably know why :))