Sunday, May 16, 2010

Welcome to customs... do you have anything to declare?

What do you suppose is in the museum? Paintings of chickens? Paintings by chickens? Paintings on chickens? [I've been saving this photo for the right occasion, and this post mentions fried chicken, so...]

Life here goes along pretty well for a waegook (foreigner). We fit in pretty well. One frustrating thing, though, is there are certain customs one just has to guess at and hope for the best.

For example, people from all of the restaurants in the area come around and tape circulars to the apartment doors, once or twice every day. There are ads for Korean restaurants, Chinese restaurants, pizzerias, and lots and lots of fried chicken places. For nine months I've been taking them off the door and throwing them in the trash. I've thought it's really strange that my neighbors seem to just leave them on their doors.

Today, I saw a guy taking them off my neighbor's doors, and it occurred to me: do the restaurants send their people out to remove the ads if the tenants don't take them in? So now I'm experimenting: I left a fried-chicken sheet and a Chinese door-hanger on my door; will they be gone when I get home from work tomorrow?

Another example: on the subway yesterday, a Korean man whom I assume is deaf made the rounds on our car; he circulated in my seating area, dropping baggies on everyone's laps. Each baggie held a cloth or bandanna with the Korean manual alphabet printed on it. I wanted to keep it for my stepson, who's into languages and ASL, but before I knew it, the man had made the circuit again, picked the baggies up from everyone's laps, and gone to the next set of seats, dropping the baggies on those people's laps.

What did he want? A 1000-Won donation? A 2000-Won donation? What's the procedure for saying, "Yeah, I'll keep it. Here's money"?

Inquiring minds want to know. Not enough to actually learn good Korean, let alone KSL, but you know...

No comments: