Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kimbap Lady

There is a bus stop that I always run to if I know I will not make it to the first stop. At this bus stop, on the other side of the 5 foot-wide sidewalk, is a kimbap restaurant. Well, they sell other things, too, but the sign says kimbap. In this shop is the lady I will refer to as the Kimbap lady. She works there with (I assume) her mother, or mother-in-law.

If  I come to this bus stop, she always runs out and greets me. Lately, she's started saying hi in English and waving her hand slightly. I still continue to bow and say annyeong haseyo, but I don't know if this is rude now that she's greeting me in English (the rest of the conversation is always in Korean). Maybe she's just trying to reciprocate since I'm making an effort to greet and talk to her in Korean. I'm sure if she knew more English, she'd use it.

This morning was one of those days I knew I might be late for the bus if I went to the usual stop. When I crossed the street, she was outside sweeping the front of the shop. I could see she'd already seen me and was prepared to wave (she always is), but there was a young (but tall) middle schooler walking between me and her, in my direction. I didn't want to create one of those awkward scenes where you wave to someone in the distance, and the person closest to you thinks you're waving at them instead... so I kept my head down until he passed.

She always speaks really fast to me, but doesn't mind repeating stuff. Unfortunately, I still can't understand most of her questions whether she repeats them or not. She seems to be asking me really simple things, but I just don't know those words yet (or can't pick them up in her sentences). Still, I think she asks me the same things every day, hoping that I'll give her a better answer soon.

Today, she walked over to a grandma ... halmeoni ...who was coming down the sidewalk with a few bandaged fingers. They started chatting about stuff, and I just watched the road for my bus. Soon, it looked like the grandma was going to continue on her way. They came towards me, but then  (I don't know who started the conversation) they started talking about me. I heard the word "yeoja" (girl/woman), and then Kimbap lady started gesturing to me and talking about where I worked. The grandma would nod like, wow. really? is that so! hmm. Then she started trying to confirm what was being said by turning to me and asking.  "Ah, so you work at so-n-so school as an English teacher?" she said in Korean.  I nodded yes. This 3 way conversation went on for a few more sentences, and then the order switched a bit. The grandma started having questions of her own to ask me. She'd turn to me and ask me some things, and I couldn't quite understand her sentences. That was ok though, because Kimbap lady had my back. She'd started sweeping again, somewhere far off, but her ears were good. She could hear the grandma's questions, and she'd shout the answers from the other side of the shop front.  This continued for a few sentences. I'd stopped trying to answer. I had a spokesperson anyway. Finally, kimbap lady said some things like, "...doesn't know. doesn't know."  I assume she was telling grandma that she hadn't gotten that answer from me yet.

Well, the grandma was satisfied, and she continued on her way, wishing me a good day and whatnot. I said kamsahabnida (thank you), and she said something and laughed, repeating kamsahabnida in a question.  So, now I think I misheard the last things she said and answered incorrectly. It was alright now. She kept walking, I turned back to the road, looking for my bus. There it was, at the light. When it pulled up to the stop, I turned around and saw the two of them standing in the shop entry way chatting about other things. I said goodbye to kimbap lady and she said "Go well!" in Korean.  I jumped on the bus and headed to school.

'Til next time

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