At 12:05 p.m. today, on my 27 day living in Korea, I got in a car with strangers for the second time. You don’t know about the first time yet. I haven’t told you. You’d freak out.
While I was waiting at the bus stop outside of my school on my way home, an SUV pulled up in front of me and a man and two women started talking to me in Korean all at once: “Bus, Sunsangneem! Bus!”
At least they knew I was a teacher, probably because I stick out like a banana among the apple orchards my town of Yesan is known for.
I tried apologizing and saying that I didn’t speak Korean, but they kept talking all at once: “Bus, Sungsangneem! Bus!” They then gestured me into their car.
Here’s what I apologize for: I got in. Stranger danger left behind at that bus stop. I had no idea what they were saying, but I got in the car. The driver pulled away as all three seemingly argued in Korean, all still talking over each other.
Among the words I should probably be able to at least recognize after a month of living here (wow, I need to study more), I caught the words “bus” and “terminal” (don’t be impressed, they’re English words even in Korean.) I knew then they were talking about where to leave me, and the bus terminal sounded great to me as it’s right across from my apartment.
We drove for just five minutes as I tried to relax my face while also studying the route we drove and plan how I would jump out of their moving car without breaking my laptop if need be. But escape wasn’t necessary. After two turns–a left, then a right–we pulled over and the woman in the front passenger seat got out of the car and the older woman sitting beside me without shoes gestured me to follow.
We had arrived at another bus stop and the woman explained in Konglish that this stop was busier, buses come more often. Sure enough, after they drove away with a wave, leaving me behind, I looked at the bus schedule and the 310 bus was scheduled to arrive at 12:45 p.m.
The bus did eventually come and I was able to flag it down (on a side note: buses in Korea do NOT stop short of a flare gun and I missed one bus already before my rogue stranger ride.) I got home just two hours after I left school, it should have been just a thirty minute commute, but making friends with people you can’t talk to and probably never see again takes time.
I am home now, and I’m sorry for almost creating a “Taken” moment, Mom and Dad, but also it’s fine.