Double Parking and My Host Mother’s Calves

I mentioned in a previous post the high population density in Korea. In the parking lot to my homestay apartment, cars frequently double park, especially at night. So normalized, there are actually lines sprayed on to the concrete marking the “appropriate” double parking locations. But how do the cars get out? I had suspected an elaborate system of telephone numbers, license plate-identified owner lists, an underground vault of spare car keys, and a make-shift valet attendant (a retired ajjuma generously donating her free time?).

I was exposed to the real solution last night; while double parked, my host mom pointed to the obstruent mini-van and said, without a whisper of annoyance or inconvenience, “push”. I stood frozen in yet another “I’m an idiot foreigner” moment, until she swaggered over and began to push on the bumper of the mini-van like a competitor in a “World’s Strongest Woman” competition.

Together, we rolled the car back about six feet, commanded it to stay, just as we had earlier with the household dogs, and then got into the car and went on our way. Simplicity, intention. No angry and impatient phone calls, no wait, no tipping a retiree valet, just my host mom and her toned calve muscles. And me, feeling like a kid again, who just found out that a TV isn’t a box that contains and projects live performances by an ensemble of tiny people.

Been thinking that maybe struggle is to know that a cabbage that will not keep through the winter must become kimchi. It is the same knowing that an obstruction must be solved into pathway so that you can keep going forward.

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