Monday, February 11, 2008

goofy ajeoshi

Charles, when he came over to my hovel with his lovely wife many, many moons ago, had the pleasure of meeting one of the two goofy individuals who staff the concierge desk in my dorm. The man in question is quite friendly, but as Charles gently observed, "He's not all there, is he?"

Last night, I carried a large load of pre-sorted recyclables out the front door to dump in the various trash cans reserved for plastic, cans/metals, and bottles. I had everything bundled up, as usual, in plastic bags. The concierge saw me exiting and, obsequious fellow that he is (plenty of bowing and "ayu!" and "byeol malsseum i-seyo"), he followed me out, talked with me a few seconds, then lifted my garbage out of my hands... and crammed everything-- everything-- into the garbage can devoted to plastics.

While he was busy with his crammery, I tried to tell him that I had cans and bottles in there, but he interrupted me with a wave and an "ayu, daesseoyo, daesseoyo" (I'm tempted to translate that, in this context, as "Oh, never mind, never mind" or "Don't worry, don't worry"). After a moment I stopped trying to tell him what to do and simply gave up.

There's a cultural commentary hidden in this incident-- something about the lack of a necessary relationship between age and wisdom, and the way this disconnect is covered over or dismissed by hierarchical thinking. The concierge obviously had his heart in the right place; from his point of view, he was doing me a favor. But the end result was glass bottles and metal cans stuffed into the garbage can marked for plastics.


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