Friday, April 28, 2006
Okay, now for something you will find a little more of in my blog: things that bug me about Korea. Now for those of you who don't know me, I don't hate Koreans; I have been here a long time and understand why the people are sometimes VERY annoying; I believe that for the most part it is not really their fault that they can be so annoying; I know it's no use trying to change Korea, but, for therapeutic reasons I just gotta complain! Besides, it makes for a more interesting blog, n'est pas? Yesterday I went to a local drug store. I like to buy stuff from the small stores in Korea because they need my business more than E-Mart or Lotte Mart. I found what I was looking for and on the bottom of the box the price was 5800 won. I took two boxes and put them on the counter and waited for the pharmacist, who was talking on the phone and doing his best to ignore me. He ended the call with only a hint of don't-rush-me-cuz-I'm-the-bossiness. He picked up one of the boxes, scratched the price tag off it, pressed some buttons on a till that had no display and looked at me but said nothing. I gave him 20,000 won. He gave me 8,000 won change. Now to quickly convert won to U.S. change the , to a . and remove a zero. I gave him 20 bucks for an $11.60 purchase and he gave me 8 bucks change. So it was an on the spot mark-up of 20 cents a box. Not enough to jump over the counter and throttle the pharmacist about. In fact I said and did nothing because I have become almost desensitized to things like this. Imagine it's 3 am. You are awakened by a loudly barking dog. It goes on and on and on. 4 am rolls around. You still can't sleep. You could go downstairs and kick the dog, duct tape its snout shut, feed it a poisoned pork chop, but none of them would do any good. Well, I guess the last one might allow you to sleep but you'd be out a perfectly good pork chop, some poison and you'd be a caninocidal lunatic. But none of these actions would help. Why not? Because most likely the problem is with the master and/or the trainer, not with the dog. This pharmacist was the dog. The Korean education system, (and I use that term VERY loosely), was his trainer, and in Korean society he has many masters. I can't do anything about the trainer or masters so I leave the store without incident. But let's look at the incident more closely. What has the pharmacist accomplished here? Maybe he feels pesonally responsible for collecting foreign taxes he feels his country isn't collecting. Maybe he has been wronged in the past by foreigners and isn't particularly concerned with whom he exacts his revenge upon as long as they are not Korean. Remember, this guy is a member of the medical profession. In most countries these people are supposed to represent the academic and intellectual elite. What is his action saying about Korea? Anyway, I feel vindicated. This blog represents my 40 cents worth of payback on this pharmacist. It made me feel better to write about it. Who knows, I may shop at his store again in the future. But not today.