New Friends

Last year, I was waiting at the bus stop as I always did on Wednesdays.  I left work right away to go stand at the bus stop, waiting for my bus to go to Seoul.  I was a regular attendee of a weekly card playing club.

So there I was, standing at the bus stop, when two cute, albeit drunk, older gentlemen start to walk by. They were talking to each other, and supporting each other as they walked, so I heard one of them suggest they sit on the bus stop bench. They continued their conversation. Another friend walked up, and suddenly they were more aware of their surroundings. One of them spotted me, just enjoying my caramel popcorn as I waited for my bus. He yells loudly, probably cause he’s drunk, “Hey! Sit down!” I detected what seemed to be some kind of English accent, or maybe it was just the alcohol. Hard to tell. Anyways, after he addressed me with his order, I sat down, and he seemed to forget about me. But his friend that had just walked up did not forget. He asked, “Where are you from?” This question I get a lot, and I don’t mind it. It’s when they assume I’m Russian that it bothers me. That would be a Korean stereotype that Russian girls are for hire.  I answered in Korean, and he lit up the neighborhood with his squeal of glee, announcing to his friends that the foreigner can speak Korean well. Why did I answer in Korean? Because if you got that question as often as I do, you could answer it natively too. But also cause I was already having fun with these guys. That’s when all three of the gentlemen try to practice their English at once, but the only thing I can understand is “Is that popcorn you’re eating?” So I offered it up. Only one guy went for it. The others were too busy interrogating- “How old are you?” “What are you doing in Korea?” “Waaah, you’re a teenager!” “You’re a teacher? Amazing.” With the arrival of their last companion, the four guys set out, but the friend that initially made conversation stopped and hesitated. He stuck out his hand to shake mine, looked me in the eye as a grandfather would, with a slight pause for seriousness, and said “I was a Captain.” Only then, is he ready to catch up to his friends. They helped one another stay upright as the walked away, me smiling and chuckling at the memories they have just made for me.  The only other person at the bus stop, a stylish middle-aged woman, was also smiling.

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