Act of courtesy

The first day is always tiring when you move to another country. The first shock for me happened when I was boarding to the long-distance flight heading to Seoul. I sat on the tail zone, accordingly to my assigned seat 28E, and I watched people crawling in from the head row. Two guys approached me, and they exchanged the gaze. One guy told the other “Ey, there is a foreigner sitting here” in Korean and then spoke directly to me in English; “Change seat, please? there?”. So played along; I replied in English “No problem, just let me grab my bag.”

So I moved to another side of the plane, where the same story repeated. Now I was in 29C and by the window there was another guy. Every time he wanted to pass he repeated “Excuse me”. That was 16 hours ago. There were only 5 non-Asian people in the entire flight and I didn’t know why they would pick me as a possible 6th person of foreigner. In the same way I didn’t understand why that guy slurping 3 glasses of white wine during the flight. Since I have never seen such drinking technique on wine, I concluded that it was to oxidise the wine as soon as possible as drinking a wine. (Okay, but I wouldn’t slurp wine as if it were a Japanese ramen soup.)

There are some personal observations. As Kant confirmed, such reasoning is only based on personal sensory filters which I could identify as well:

  1. When they have anger, they express the anger non-verbally but visibly. There were some water dropping in the flight, and when flight attendant didn’t handle the situation quite as expected, the 29A guy made a big sigh for the flight attendant to see. Would it be because that there was an linguistical barrier? If it were a parisien person, would he have made a clear verbal complaining?
  2. Framing and blaming is at commonplace. Overhearing what people talk over the phone, I was surprised that receiving a phone call in a closed public place like a metro cabin isn’t against courtesy. Yet many of those conversations I overheard today was negatively contagious; “I know, he is just a that kind of person.” or “No one told her to do so, she was just naïve.” I didn’t want to overhear. It was that they just talked too loud for anyone around to listen their conversation.
  3. There was a verbal fight between two elders. They were both sitting in the designated seats for the elders and for the people with reduced mobility. A lady of age 70 shout to another lady of 50 saying that she didn’t respect her. “These days the younger ones don’t know how to respect the elders! Have you no parents?” Their fight began basically because they wanted to seat where they are assigned yet they both were sitting. What was quite disturbing for me was that there were some young people aged around 20-26 gathering around those two hopeless elders to amuse themselves. They were mocking the two ladies, laughing at them, giggling about them on their back. I left the metro cabin even though it wasn’t my station.
  4. I was walking around my old neighbourhood amazed by how much it had changed. A new hospital, many new roads, and stream construction- all these made the town look more like somewhat I had in mind as a peaceful Japanese town. The development was impressive. When I was walking upward a narrow path, a lady with a stroller was coming down. Soon a car was coming down too, and I saw the male driver started to sound a Klaxon horn right behind the strolling lady. In this society, does a male driver precede to a lady with baby?

Simply, the very reason that they didn’t identify me as one of them is because I, myself, don’t share the value they are presenting. I don’t want to frame and blame people from what I have observed. Either, I don’t want to have a negative reflexion of my first day arrival. I was walking, and tried to hop on a bus. It was already the time when dismissed students were occupying all transports around the town heading back to their cozy home. I saw two young boys helping an old lady to carry her grocery bags off the bus. (As I had to carried my 23kg luggage from the airport, the bus wasn’t designed for people with heavy articles). One boy even hopped out paying his fee. When the lady worried him to hop on quickly before he loses the bus, he simply replied “don’t worry, ma’am”. This happened just before when I arrived home after the long trip.

I would like to identify myself with the future generation of this country, because such courtesy is founded among them, rather than among grown-ups.


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