I’ve always over thought things. I cannot recall a time in my life when I did not stress about small things, things that most people would never even notice. Occasionally my over thinking snowballs into imaginings of worst-case scenarios. One second I have set off a security alarm with my winter jacket and the next second (in my mind) I am being held in a North Korean prison because of a series of unfortunate diplomatic miscommunications. It can be overwhelming and a serious obstacle when I’m trying new things. The good news is that now that I’m older and (ha!) wiser, I can reel myself back to reality, put on my big girl pants, and deal with situations as they come.
So that’s the backstory. Now here’s the Korea story.
I have, in general, grown accustomed to not understanding any conversations around me. My life, aside from work, is mostly filled with white noise. Occasionally I will hear people in the supermarket speaking English and for a moment I feel like a pervert, listening in on other people’s secret grocery conversations. Still, there are times when it’s impossible to ignore the Korean, even if you have no idea what it means. Like, for instance, when a voice over a loudspeaker woke me one Thursday night. It was coming from the hallway, but at first that was hard to determine. Had Big Brother barged into my apartment? Or, had been a tsunami warning been issued? (Residual West coast anxieties.) Anxious, I lay in bed with my eyes and ears open, waiting for what was to come next. But I never did hear doors closing or people in the hallway, so I could only assume that no evacuations had been ordered. Eventually I went back to sleep. This has since happened two more times. Both times everyone seemed to stay calmly in their apartments and we all woke up the next morning, building in tact. So I suppose that until I take some Korean lessons, I will remain clueless about what is being said over the building’s PA system.
I have, however, solved a different loudspeaker mystery. Sometimes during my break between morning classes and evening classes I hear announcements booming from the vehicles in the street. I live almost directly across from the police station, so I at first thought that the announcements were police related. I would walk out onto my balcony and try to see what was going on. However, all I can see from my balcony is the balcony beneath mine so the only thing I could deduce was that my downstairs neighbours were not yelling at me with a megaphone. (Which would have led to a very different post.) The first day that I heard the street announcements I was filled with anxiety (tsunamis fears, etc) when I couldn’t figure out what it was all about. After a few days of hearing them every afternoon though, I started to blissfully ignore the bellows. Last week, on the way back to school to teach my afternoon classes, I finally found out what the racket was about. Fish. It was the fish truck. Because it would be a downright crime for someone to miss out on a great deal on crabs in the back of a pickup truck. So, yeah. There have been no tsunamis or attacks from North Korea or giant apes terrorising the city but there is a fantastic deal on shrimp. Don’t miss out!
Update: as I was writing this there was an announcement coming from the street so I went outside to check things out. This time I could see a police van going down the street and the outside announcement was followed by an announcement on the PA system in the building. However, it has now been twelve hours and I still haven’t seen Godzilla, so I’m not going to lose sleep over it.