An open letter of apology to each and every taxi operator I drive to the brink of suicide during my time here in Korea.
First, let's get one thing straight, it's probably around 7 in the morning and I'm in last nights clothes with a very small framed man in tow who may or may not be conscious. Don't worry about him, he's fine. Me, on the other hand, I am not. I am tired and hungry and my feet hurt, also I probably have no idea where I am right now. "Ee-Tay-Won? Are we in Itaewon? Can you take us to Suji? Soo-gee!" is probably the best you can hope for out of me, at this point. Please, please, PLEASE, for the love of everything holy, do not get lost. As if waving my iPhone around in your face with my address on the screen wasn't helpful enough, I solemnly swear I can't find my way back to the town I live in to save my own life. Isn't that was GPS is for? One question I have for all of you taxi drivers also is this: what is artichoke and why do you keep yelling it at me in the form of a question? Yes, yes, artichoke, whatever, take me home and in the name of love STOP playing this weird 70's piano man music. I can't smoke in here? What do you mean I can't smoke in here? I'm paying you like, thousands of dollars to take me home and you're saying that I can't exercise my own personal rights as a citizen of the planet Earth to smoke in this thousand dollar (okay, won) cab ride? Hold on, here is a real question for you: can we please pull over so I can pee? I don't think I'm going to make it home and with the erratic way you've been driving I can tell it's only a matter of gas-break-dips away before I lose it all over this backseat. So you're telling me you can't pull over because we're on a bridge? That sounds like a perfect place to pull over to pee to me - nature's largest port-a-potty! If you won't stop to allow me to empty my bladder, could you at least refrain from staring ferociously into the backseat where my friend and I are trying to have a serious conversation/yelling match about the night's events? Is it not kosher to yell in public here? Or... anywhere, for that matter? Is that why taxis never stop to pick me up and (straight) men never dance with me at the clubs? Okay, this is getting way too real and I'm pretty sure I see my street. Since I've only learned roughly four words in Korean, I think/hope I'm barking at you to stop here "yeogi?" and at least saying thank you "kamsahamnida?" and maybe even goodbye "an-yŏng-ha-se-yo" if I can figure it out in time.
Although our brief time sharing this wonderful smoke-free cab ride together has had it's ups and downs, I'd like to take a moment to thank you. Thank you for putting up with my ridiculous antics, and the antics of my friends (which are honestly probably 10x worse). Thank you for trying to use whatever small amount of English phrases you know, even if it didn't really help anybody out in the long run I actually wholeheartedly appreciate your effort and applaud you. Thank you for not kicking us out of the cab when somebody tries to pee out the window/light a cigarette/punch the person in the backseat from the front/change the station on your radio knob/touch your hair or face/and any other form of obnoxious childlike behavior you can imagine. Thank you for being so kind and driving us home so that we don't have to cram onto a rush hour subway that smells like fish oil and moldy umbrellas after a luxurious night out at some of Seoul's finest and classiest "dance clubs." And last but not least, thank you for making me feel like an absolute millionaire every time I pay for a cab ride and see that the total is "45,000" and don't even flinch at all of those 0's. Thank you, cab driver... thank you.
Oh, and I'm really sorry.