Friday, February 06, 2009

There are a few other jobs I'd like to have in Korea, even if they don't pay as well as my job. For a long time, taxi driver was at the top of the list. I'd really like to drive around in a shiny car that smells faintly of the many, many cigarettes I smoke, engage in idle conversation and dispense change from a massive stick of crisp ₩1,000 notes I keep on the odometer. Optional white gloves and a tiny little TV that lets me keep up on dramas while driving at night would seal the deal. Of course, for this to be possible, I'd need to be able to say left-turn correctly, which is tough for me at the moment, learn which buildings are landmarks and which are completely unimportant, and improve at making idle chit-chat with other middle-aged men.

I'd also like to have the job, good for three out of the four seasons, where you park your truck at an intersection and sell whole chickens (supposedly stuffed with rice) for $6, or two for $10. There's something about the idea of setting up shop for the night and casually selling chicken to passersby that, all while smoking cigarette after cigarette, that I find very relaxing and appealing.

My dream, however, is to be a grocery store propagandist. The grocery store propagandist sounds like a crazy man announcing fiery, revolutionary slogans over the grocery store public address system. "Long live the Republic of Korea and its Dear Leader Lee Myung-bak!" I imagine him shouting. For the most part, his voice stays calm but urgent. Every now and then, however, his voice attains the sort of frenetic tone you might have if being strangled by a gang of muggers. "QUICKLY! QUICKLY! COME HERE!" he cries. "QUICKLY! QUICKLY! THREE DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS! RIGHT NOW! THREE DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS FOR THE GRAPES! COMEONRIGHTNOWTHEGRAPESAREJUSTTHREEDOLLARSANDFIFTYCENTSAND YOUABSOLUTELYMUSTCOMERIGHTNOWORELSE THESEKIDSAREGOINGTOWRINGMYNECK!" In the enusing panic, all you can hear or think about is what this man is selling, and you definitely want it, whatever it is. Like angry waves crashing into a rocky shore, or like the ineloquence of a hack writer channeling Homer, the crescendo rises and falls automatically. Today, everything was quiet until I heard him shouting at the top of his lungs about spinach for 50 cents. Whatever the case, life is always exciting for the grocery store propagandist.

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