Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Way Back When Wednesday - Sheets

We had an interesting first couple of days in Korea. Our plane didn't land until late in the evening, and then we still had to go through baggage claim and customs, find our boss Mr. Kim, and then get out of the airport. Then we had a 3.5 hour bus ride to Sokcho, where we'd be living. We arrived in Sokcho at 2am. A co-worker named Hyo-Jin met the three of us at the station and we all went out to eat. Yes, out to eat. I really didn't expect to be going out at that late of an hour, but I guess we were all hungry and there were restaurants open.

After eating, we finally got to our apartment. Mr. Kim told us to get some rest and that Hyo-Jin would call us later that day and take us to buy the things we needed for our apartment. We didn't end up resting at all because the apartment was a mess (the girl who lived there before left us "treasures").

Later that morning, Hyo-Jin called us to say he'd be there in about 15 minutes and he'd take us to E-Mart (the Korean equivalent to Wal-mart or Target) to go shopping.  I was relieved because there were no sheets on the bed, and we hadn't brought any with us.  We were told that the apartment would come with everything we needed (ha!).

So on our way to E-Mart, I explained to Hyo-Jin that we needed to buy some sheets for our bed.  He looked concerned, but seemed to know what we were talking about.  He took us all around E-Mart showing us where everything was.  It seemed so big to us at first!  Two stories with an escalator ramp!

After we had found most of what we needed, Hyo-Jin took us to the bedding section to help us find the sheets.  We couldn't find any anywhere!  He kept apologizing saying, "I'm sorry, I am a man.  I don't know anything about sheets," and "I'm sorry, I am not a housewife.  I don't know about sheets," and "I am not married, I don't know about things like sheets." 

Except he wasn't exactly saying "sheets."  Unfortunately, he was mispronouncing the long "E" sound.  He was pronouncing it with a short "I" sound, making it a completely different and completely inappropriate word.  After about the second or third apology it was getting really hard not to laugh.

And we had no idea what to do.  We didn't want to insult him and correct his English (he was also an English teacher at our academy), and we didn't want to have to explain what he was saying.   But then again, we didn't want him going around saying a bad word in the place of a completely harmless one.

So we delicately corrected him, telling him about the vowel change he made.  He was a little embarrassed, but grateful that we helped him avoid swearing unintentionally. 

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