Sunday, January 15, 2012

Getting Home, Part 2: My night in Incheon

When I left off at Part 1, I'd just left the bus to trudge through the fresh snow with my suitcase on my way to Grandmother's house.  Ah, no, it was Susan's house.  The suitcase was acting like a reverse plow against the fluffy snow, but I'd be back on a new bus soon.  Besides, by some miracle I had decided to wear my sturdy snow boots, a jacket, a scarf, hat, and my winter coat.  I'd almost left the house in only TOMS and a heavy sweater.  As you'll see in just a second, gosh I would have died if that had happened!

I think it's funny that I didn't have to worry about ll the cars in the street.  They were all stopped because of the snow and ice, so I could walk right around them no matter what the crosswalk sign said.  I also thought it was funny when my friend Alex texted me.  "Wow, Lindsay!  You gotta look at all the snow outside!"  I called him back and shared some good natured sarcasm about the weather I was standing in, we wished each other Merry Christmas, and then I set back to trying to find my new bus stop: Blue 1112.

At a loss once again, I found a cute young lady to ask, in broken but sufficient Korean, where the stop was.  She replied: "Oh, where are you going?"
Hallelujah!  English and help!
I told her I was going to the Incheon bus terminal, and she said she was going there, too!  She would go with me, and this bus stop we were at would take us there.  WooHoo!

We waited for a while and chatted for a while.  We talked about English, teaching, and traveling before we started to wonder why the bus wasn't coming.  She texted her friend to check for her about whether the bus was still on route.  In the meantime, we talked some more, we watched how the number of traveling vehicles dwindled, and we began looking for taxis to take us where we needed to go.

After about a half hour of waiting in the snow, my feet started to hurt.  I was wearing a good set of boots, but only one pair of socks.  Also, the soles of the boots weren't that thick.  The cold was setting into my feet, and I was started to feel it very sharply.  Ten minutes later, I was alternating which foot I'd stand on.  Five minutes after that, I was nearly crying from the pain.

Just before my breaking point, some ajummas (old married ladies) came up to our stop.  My new friend talked to them in shocked tones and then relayed to me that all the taxis and all the buses had stopped.  But, she knew the way to the nearest subway station.  From there we could get to our final destination.  "So, how do you feel about walking?" she said.
"Let's do it."

I looked at my watch.  It was an hour after meeting this girl that we set out in the ice and snow together.

The girl took off her gloves and gave them to me because I had to pull my suitcase.  I strongly resisted because #1 her hands would freeze and #2 I had some knit fingerless gloves that I could use.  She would not be refused, however, and I remembered what she'd said earlier at the bus stop.  Not only did she tell me she would take me to where I needed to go, but she had also offered to pay the complete (and very high) fare should we find a taxi that would take us.  She was stepping into the role of 언니 (awni).  This is what sisters call their older sisters.  I must tell you, in Korea, if you are older, you take care of those younger than you.  One of the strongest of these care bonds is the older sister to the younger sister.  It's culturally accepted and almost expected, and, when I remembered all this, I humble took the girl's gloves and offered her my fingerless ones.

And so we set out.

The rest of the evening took a very long time, but I can sum it up by saying we walked in the snow with both of us pulling the suitcase for 50 more minutes which made nearly two hours of waiting and walking and talking and being somewhat miserable but also extremely happy and thankful.  About midway in our trek, the girl went into a convenience store and came out with two hot canned drinks.  (I didn't know they made those, either!)  Near the end of our trek, we were swapping hands for the suitcase very regularly, and I had to take many breaks.  At the very end, I even worried about if my asthma was starting to act up.  It didn't, and we finally made it to the subway station.

At our final destination, I set up my camera to take a picture of us, me and my Incheon angel.  It was there that we exchanged numbers and names.  When I told her that my name is Lindsay, she gasped and said, "Ah! My English name is Lin!"  And so, as if we weren't already some sort of friends for life, the connection was made stronger.  Lin even told me to call her if I'm ever again in Incheon so that she could treat me.  Gosh, as if I'd ever want to inconvenience her again!  I kept exclaiming my grateful thanks over and over and over again.  She went to far out of her way to help me and to take care of me, I was overwhelmed.  She replied that, had it not been for me, though, she would still be waiting at that bus stop because "it is not usual for a woman to walk by herself in Korea.  So, you helped me, too."  I was glad for that small repayment.

Lin helped me take my suitcase up and down the subway steps.  She talked with my contact Susan for me on my phone so that they could exchange my directions in Korean (which would be clearer than English directions).  Lin took me within eyesight of where I would meet Susan, and then it was time to say good bye.

Our parting hug, it was real.  It was heartfelt, strong, long, and so real.  From crazy circumstances come crazy  relationships, right?  (At least that's what the zombie movies tell us.)  But really, I'm so thankful for how Lin helped me, and I'm so thankful God brought us together.  He takes care of His own, man.  And that's awesome.

Weather worn and exhausted
I apologized when I asked if Lin would take a picture with me because, gosh, another thing to do for the foreigner?  But Lin was more than happy to.  "Actually I like taking picture."
Then cool.  Very cool.


  1. Aw what a great story!! Meeting strangers like that must be incredible!

  2. That is soooo awesome.

    I'm so glad that you found each other!


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