Thursday, August 21, 2014

helping or harming? ajeossis and predators

Let's go back in time one day, from August 15 to August 14. On the night of August 14, I was walking by myself along Jongno 3-ga when I saw an old man on his back, a look of pain on his face. He was obviously drunk, and his nearly-as-drunk companion was vainly trying to pull him to his feet. I initially just walked by this scene, but as I heard the standing old man yelling at the fallen old man, I sighed, turned around, and decided to offer what help I could. I wrapped an arm around the oldster's torso and lifted him to his feet while his friend looked on in watery-eyed approval. I asked my charge where he was going; he said he wanted a taxi. Carefully, I walked him to the street.

A car pulled up that was definitely not a taxi. The driver rolled down his window and asked the drunken ajeossi where he was going. The ajeossi told him, and the guy said, "I'll take you there for W30,000." I thought this was shameless and outrageous—a brazen attempt at extorting money from a drunk and helpless old man. Who the fuck pays $30 for a short ride anywhere in the city, right? The driver and the old drunk batted dialogue back and forth for a while; I periodically tried steering the old man away from this predator, saying "Let's wait for a taxi, okay?" several times. To no avail: the ajeossi was convinced that this asshole was his ride, and like a pet that I couldn't quite control, the old fart pushed his way over to the younger man's car and slowly got in. His inebriated friend got in with him, so I can only hope the W30,000 charge was reduced to W15,000 per person at that point. The driver saw I was about to walk away, and he asked me what relationship I had with the old man. "None," I said truthfully. The driver seemed relieved, which put me on my guard. But by then, the car was on its way.

So did I help or did I harm? I began to realize that the driver belonged to a class of predators who prowl the streets looking for drunken old men to exploit. I texted Tom about what I had done; Tom scolded: "You should know better," i.e., you should know better than to get involved with drunk people. "Had to help him," I texted back. I can only imagine what that old man is going to think when he sobers up and finds himself W30,000 poorer.

Personally, I'm easily disgusted by drunken conduct. It's a control thing for me, I suppose, and when I see someone who's so drunk he can no longer stand, I find myself completely unable to relate to that person's worldview. This is what you call fun? Getting plastered? Dulling your intellect and your senses (especially your common sense)? Sorry, but as a teetotaler, I just don't see the charm.

I've improved, though, since my high-school days. Back when I was a temperamental teen, I would flare up with righteous fury whenever I saw a classmate drunk. I'm not sure I even understood why I would get so angry. Now, I can find the humor in such situations, and even manage to dig up a nugget or two of compassion, which is what happened in this instance.

Anyway, here are pictures of the drunk guys and the predatory driver. Sorry for the blurriness. Hover your cursor over the images to see their captions. I hope the old guys didn't end up raped and left naked in a park somewhere.



Charles said...

While part of me admires your willingness to help your fellow human being, I've got to agree with Tom on this: getting involved with drunk people is never a good idea (barring life-threatening circumstance).

Kevin Kim said...

Perhaps I'm more of a bleeding heart than I let on.

John said...

Yeah, I would and have helped a drunk acquaintance, but I'd not get involved with a drunk ajusshi--too much can go wrong.

Hopefully the guy only lost W30,000 in the deal. I've read about guys in the states using the "I'll give you a ride" as a prelude to robbery and worse. Still, if there is justice in the universe one or both of the drunks puked in the rip-off artist's ride. And you of course earned karma points regardless.

Kevin Kim said...

Hopefully good karma.