Saturday, October 04, 2014

uncredited save

I was riding the subway on my way to Incheon when an old woman at one of the subway stops very unwisely chose to try dashing into my subway car just as the doors were closing. The doors slammed onto her shoulders, effectively pinning her in place. Because I was standing just inside the car and right next to the doors, I reached over and shoved the doors open while a second gentleman arrived, perhaps a second too late, to offer his own strength to the party. I pushed the doors wide, and the woman stepped, relieved, into the car. The subway itself was none the worse for wear: there was only a slight delay before the doors re-closed on their own and the train got moving. Tragedy avoided. Did I get any thank-yous for this? No. Of course not—certainly not from the old lady.

One of my best friends from the 1990s, Kiwi stalwart John Williamson, used to be almost English in his sense of dignity. He'd never rush anywhere—not when crossing the street, not when catching a subway. People visibly in a rush were just embarrassing themselves; that was his stance. Koreans, by contrast, seem perfectly fine throwing dignity to the wind if it means seizing some sort of opportunity. How many Koreans have I seen sprinting toward elevators whose doors were closing? How many Koreans charge full-tilt across a street to beat the red light at the crosswalk? Rushing isn't seen as a loss of dignity in this country; if anything, the person who doesn't rush is a sucker for not taking a chance.

I'm not a rusher myself: I prefer to take my time. This makes me a poor match for Korea's "hurry, hurry" culture, but I don't particularly give a shit. I've lived in this country for almost a decade; the country and I get along fine, despite the difference in cultural values. So I'll always shake my head in mild exasperation whenever I see a hapless grandmother wedged between two sliding subway doors, and part of me will always think the old biddy is getting exactly what she deserves for her stupidity. It doesn't pay to be grabby.



Sperwer said...

My policy these days is very laissez faire. If someone intentionally does something stupid, i let Darwin's law play out. Only is someone is mentally and/or physically incapacitated or othewrwise incompetent through no fault of their own (eg young children) or a more or less innocent and helpless victim of someone else's malevolence, i won't do anything. Good riddance!

Charles said...

No credit, perhaps, but you don't do it for the glory do you? You do it for the warm fuzzy feeling you get when said granny elbows you in the stomach on the way to an empty seat.

Kevin Kim said...


In the case of grannies, Darwin might apply, but since these old ladies are too old to reproduce, weeding them out doesn't really help the population that much.


I do it because there are treasures stored up for me in heaven.