Friday, October 31, 2003

"I am Handicap Level 4"

OK, I did actually steal something today.

Now and then on the subway, you'll get beggars. Many are blind; some tote cassette players that blare pity-inducing music (usually Western-style Christian hymns which, as Eddie Izzard pointed out, are often very good for invoking sadness and other gloomy, God-related emotions); and some are crippled.

Some beggars shuffle into your subway car and hand out slips of paper describing their lot and why they hope you'll give them a little money. Usually they wait a bit, then go around and collect their slips before heading off to the next subway car to repeat their miserable, self-demeaning task.

Today, this particular cripple left his slip of paper on my lap, then failed to pick it up again after four stops, which is unusual. So I took his paper with me, even though I know how important it is to these folks to have every single slip. Yes, it was a cruel thing to do, and I do feel like a shit about it, but I wanted to look at it more closely, and I'm rationalizing that he may have simply forgotten to pick up his slips (which is bullshit; these folks always remember).

The Marmot provides tons of translations from news articles & such; my Korean reading skills aren't nearly where his are, and I still need a Korean dictionary with me-- plus time-- to get through anything more complicated than a children's story (and even those can boggle my tiny hominid mind).

But here, for the first time ever, is a completely Hominid-translated piece of Korean prose:

I am physically handicapped, Level 4, No. 4.

Following brain surgery, I've had constant headaches 15-18 times a day.

My left eye, right arm, and left leg's nerves have been numbed.
(I wasn't sure how to translate "ma bi," which can mean paralysis or loss of function in nerves. In some cases, this comes down to the same thing, but in others, "paralysis" is a better term than, say, "numbness." The guy looked crippled, but not what I'd call paralyzed. He shuffled, but he was obviously using both legs.)

Now, every day, I don't have enough money to pay hospital fees, which is why I'm here.

Everyone, please help a little bit.

I pray for peace for everyone's family.

[along with this handwritten message, a copy of the man's "bokji" (public welfare) card]

Now I really feel like a shit. And I want to know what "Handicap Level 4" refers to.

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