There is still a little part of me that wants to prove I’m not bad a directions any more.
I first noticed the taxi pull up and stop because it was driving abnormally slow. It stopped in the crosswalk, directly in front of me, so I hoped the occupant would make a quick exit before the light changed. I’m lazy enough to not want to walk extra steps around a vehicle at 11:00 after a long day. However, the passenger- a woman- was leaning in close to the windshield in order to look up. She was pointing and conversing with the driver. I sighed. Could I justify eating ice cream to make up for those extra steps?
Wait. That’s weird. No one ever looks up. You’d think in a city with businesses on every floor that looking up would be natural, but that’s how you spot tourists.
The taxi’s light flicked on, signaling the paying of fare and the woman got out, making a beeline for me and other woman waiting to cross. She was preoccupied with her phone, checking out the address, I guess, so when she spoke she didn’t know my foreign ears were her audience. But after reading the whole address out loud, she looked up, and pointed at the apartment building across the street.
She turned to the other woman just as quickly as all her predecessors, and repeated her question, although I’m sure the woman had already heard.
“잘 모르겠어요,” she answered. “I’m not sure.”
I didn’t waste a second. “네, 맞아요.” “That’s right.” The building she was pointing at was, in fact, the correct building. But what she didn’t know is that all four apartment buildings in a row have the same name. She didn’t specify which one- so I asked.
“1차? 2차?” One or two? You may be thinking, wait there are four apartment buildings with the same name. I’m getting there.
“A동? B동?” You see… 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B… 4 buildings. Is this a common numbering system? I’ve always wondered.
*insert correct cultural sound for surprise* “나도 가고 있어요.” I’m going there too.
We walked the 50 feet in silence, parting at the elevator with proper bows, thank yous, and good byes.
It’s happened four times: someone asks for directions before looking at my face. I open my mouth to reply but they’ve already moved on. They don’t even pause to apologize, say excuse me, or marvel at my beauty. They are just gone.
All four times, I have known the way to get to the destination they seek.
This woman had just asked me for directions to my very own apartment building, and she almost walked away with nothing.
Now, the question is:
If you can give directions in another language, does it prove you are good at directions?