from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Random #59: A Run-in with the Police

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Since my last posting, I’ve been kept busy with yet another move farther away from my beloved Nakseongdae, a series of home improvement and translation projects, random side jobs to pay off debtors, meeting up with visitors from overseas (including Kevin from BigHominid’s Hairy Chasms), and a birthday party and two weddings. I’ve been trying to get back into my revisions so that I can finish by the end of June but this week has already proven to be the worst yet.

On Sunday night, I was driving home after a long day of chauffeuring a friend’s family around for his wedding. It was dark and rainy and all I wanted to do is go home and pass out. I was about five minutes away when some asshole cut me off, almost clipping my right fender. I tapped my horn and the asshole stopped, blocking both lanes, and started cursing at me. I yelled back and he drove off.

Pissed off and flustered, I set off but the grade of the hill was steeper than I had thought and my car stalled. Now pissed off, flustered, and embarrassed, I tried and stalled again. The cars piling up behind me, I regained a little composure and managed to get up and over the hill. As I made it over the hill, the van that was behind me honked at me. I figured he was just angry that it took me a while to get going but he started tailing me, changing lanes when I changed lanes and riding my ass.

Maybe he’s with the asshole that cursed at me, I thought as I tried to shake him. At a red light, he got out of his van and approached my car. Before he made it to my car, the light turned green so I just sped off.

The next day, it started raining heavily and I was in a funk, unable to get out of bed and head out to the coffee shop to write. I stayed in bed most of the day, snacking on raw ramen and moldy Costco biscuits.

Yesterday, I was heading out to my part-time job when the building manager came out to talk to me.

“The police were here looking for you.”


“They said you reversed into someone on Sunday night and ran off. They checked out your car and took down your phone number.”

I was running late so I headed off to work, feeling crummy and bewildered. The asshole in the van was accusing me of a hit-and-run. I didn’t feel anything but it’s possible that my car might have grazed his while trying to get started only if he had been on my ass. I’ve driven a stick for thirteen years and even on the steepest hill, my car wouldn’t roll back more than a couple inches.

On my way back home, I stopped by the local police station and asked about it but they had no idea what I was talking about. I stopped by the management office of my building and they said the police didn’t say which police station they were from and didn’t leave a number. I checked out my car before heading to school to teach my night class and there was the smallest of scratches on my rear bumper that may or may not have been there before.

So all this is left hanging over my head and I can only wait and see if the asshole decides to file charges. On top of this, I got two letters in the mail—the first from the police, saying that I didn’t pay two speeding tickets I was never notified about, and the second from the district office, saying that it’s time for a regular check of my car. Emissions won’t be a problem, but the asshole who owned my car before me pimped it out in the worst possible way, and the guy at the shop said I’d definitely have to pay hefty fines for the after-market lights.

I love driving, love the open road almost as much as that first beer after a long day. Even in the chaos of the streets of Seoul, I enjoy taking the car out on a nice day, old school rap blasting and a cigarette in hand. Even though it’s stupid in this city of perpetual traffic, I chose my car because it has a manual transmission, preferring the complete control and closeness to the vehicle over comfort and options. But driving to and from school last night and today, I was struck with an overwhelming melancholy that drowned out any of that joy. For a man of limited means, a car also has the potential to bring on a world of problems.

It’s one of my quirks, but I can’t write when something is weighing on my mind. It’s the reason why I can’t write on the days I have to teach night classes and part of the reason why I rarely make plans. I actually had a different story to tell for this posting but I couldn’t make it past the first paragraph.

I’ve mentioned before that the universe has blessed with me with a bad memory and even the smallest distraction can derail my train of thought, but this time, I think I’ll need some assistance. The bar opens in an hour, my flask will have to suffice until then.


One Response

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  1. Aigu… my sympathies, man.

    Kevin Kim

    May 30, 2013 at 3:44 am

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