Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shoot out at the OK Cabbie

I walked out the door with that niggling feeling that I had forgotten something. I turned the light on, looked around didn't see anything out of place. Turned off the heater again, did a pat down, figured it was just fatigue and the extreme number of other stressors on my mind and walked out the door. As I turned the key in the lock I felt like I was forgetting something.

I stopped and checked the mirror in the hall just before the door. Everything looked fine. Remembered to remove the eyebrow ring, nothing on my nose, eyes clean. I shrugged feeling crazy and feeling like I was forgetting something. I started walking.

It's about a mile from my apartment to school and the morning is cold but bundled up in my scarf and winter coat I don't feel it. I have good music blaring in my ears, back pack bumping against my ass, life is good at 7:50 am. I walk with the continuing feeling that I have forgotten something. I think about the dog, but the dog is out of town so that's not it. I got nothing, I keep walking.

I hit the half way point, the big bell tower that is on my walk and the way to school. I'm a little bit chilly, which is unusually because under my coat I have my jacket and my blouse and my bra which should be more than enough padding with my coat to keep me from being chilly. But I still feel cold. I think about this as I cross the street. And then it hits me.

My jacket.

Am I actually wearing my jacket?

I peek into the sleeves of my coat and note that the jacket is absent. I'm in the middle of the crosswalk and I have to make a decision, press on and teach jacketless for the day or catch a cab and go home, as I won't have time to walk back at this point and not be late.

I think about this, a few second, blink of an eye, but it's the following that makes the decision.

It's cold.

It's very cold.

And being that I am a female of the species my body has a tendency to react to cold in varying ways. Aside from goose bumps and dry skin scientist have found that nipples react to cold by becoming firm and erect. Probably no surprise there, but in just a blouse and a bra I figured it would not be wise to spend the day in front of boys ranging in age from 13 to 16 without the jacket. So, I crossed to the other side of the street to grab a cab.

I flagged the first guy I saw and jumped in.

"Where will you go?" he asks as I sit down.

Shit. My cabbie speaks English. This is going to throw a real monkey wrench in my smooth plans of going home, grabbing a jacket and having the cab take me back to school. Because he speaks English. Or at least, he thinks he speaks English. I tell him where I am going and he just looks at me and blinks. Because while he understand the questions, he does not understand the responses.

I tell him again in Korean and we are off.

He asks me, "Where are you from?" and we continue through the varying forms of polite conversation that any second language learner will study at the beginning of any second language course. I respond appropriately, while directing the cab in Korean back to my apartment. My Korean is better than his English, but it would be rude to respond in Korean. So I stick to Korean directions and do the rest in English.

As we drive down the block to my street I see some poor early morning girl who must be late for an appointment running down the street in high heels. I feel bad for her, but what are you going to do. The cab pulls up to my door. I look at him and point to my bags.

I explain in Korean that I have to run in, grab something, and we will go again. I will come back. My bags will stay here. I explain again in English. He says okay.

I dash into my place and grab my jacket hanging inconspicuously on the coat rack by the door. I run back out to the cab where my wallet and my backpack are waiting. And in the front seat is the Korean girl who was running down the street just moments before.

I get back in and close the door in the back seat.

The cab driver just looks at me, as does the Korean girl.

"I want you to take me to school," I say exasperated, as I had not paid him yet, I thought it might be obvious that I wanted him to take me someplace else. The Korean woman tells the cab driver that she wants to go to work. I look at the woman and tell her very politely that this is my cab, she can go get her own.

She tells me back this is Korea.

We fight over the cab for a few seconds, but seeing as how I had already run up a bill the cab driver, who also wants to continue his free English lesson, kicks out the nice lady and we are on our way.

When we drove off I could see Ms. High Heels still running down the street. Cabs passed her left and right. I guess she just really liked mine. The cab driver said goodbye to me in English when we arrived and explained how to get to the school in Korean. I smiled, gave him a five for the ride.

"My English is not so good." he says as he shakes his head during my exit.

"No, that's not true. Your pronunciation is perfect." I smile back. As to the rest of it, well, he drives a fine cab.

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