I’m currently in Seoul, South Korea, on the tail end of a three-week trip. Melissa and I spent two wonderful weeks in Thailand and Cambodia on a long-planned frequent flier mile cash-in bonanza, followed by a trip to South Korea for work. It’s all been fantastic, but I’m just about ready for it to be over. The only thing keeping me from wanting to go home more than I already do is the fact that I have nearly 24 hours of travel ahead of me. Actually, that’s not true – there are a few things that I’m going to have a hard time saying goodbye to.
First up, this:
Just look at that, will you? What? Did you call it a toilet? How dare you? I don’t know what to call it yet, but it’s not a toilet. How do I know? Because toilets don’t have heated seats. They don’t have bidets (with adjustable water temperature and pressure). They don’t have warm air dryers (with adjustable air temperatures and speed). Toilets don’t have control panels. Toilets don’t make you happy.
Big deal, we have GPS monitors in the US. Yes, we do. But that’s not a GPS monitor (or it is, but it’s not just that). It’s a TV. For watching TV. In the car. Seoul has terrible traffic, and somewhere along the way someone decided, “You know what would make driving in traffic much more enjoyable? TV!” I’m assuming now that the TV/traffic thing is a vicious cycle, wherein people get in accidents because they’re watching TV, which makes traffic worse, which makes watching TV while driving even more important. Question: What is the highest number of human lives would you be willing to sacrifice every year so you could watch TV in your car? Everyone is different, but if the number you thought of is below 5,000 you’re lying.
When I lived in New York I often thought of how absolutely hosed I would be if a fire or other disaster were to strike while I was in a skyscraper. Sure, you go through the motions of a civilized fire drill twice a year, and you all nod as the receptionist they’ve saddled with fire marshal duties drones on about making sure you make way for the elderly and disabled. But we all know the minute smoke starts pouring in all bets are off. Thunderdome at the office. You’ve got two minutes to get down 33 flights of stairs, and if Jerry from Accounts Receivable is slowing things down on account of his gout you’re going to do what you have to do. And that’s if you can even get to the stairwell.
One day a co-worker and I wondered aloud why they didn’t just provide some rope for everyone who sat by the window of our building. It was one of those ideas that at first seems ridiculous but on closer examination makes a great deal of sense – “Yeah, actually, why don’t they provide ropes for everyone?” Usually the answer to such questions boils down to the fact that we’re just too lazy or someone doesn’t want to spend the money. Well, the Koreans are neither lazy nor cheap.
Can you believe that? That kit contains a hammer for breaking glass, a belt, and a long spool of rope. (I assume the hammer is also there in case your rope is defective and you have to clear out some people in the stairwell?)
Oh, and one more I can’t really take a picture of: the elevators here? They let you un-press a button to rescind your command to go to a certain floor. You accidentally hit “7” when you wanted to hit “8?” No problem. Hit it again, and take it back and go straight to “8.” Tell me that wouldn’t make a difference in your life.
Really the only thing I don’t like about South Korea is this:
Yep, parking stalls that only women can use. Which isn’t actually that big of a deal, since finding a parking space isn’t really that annoying when you can watch TV while doing it.