Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Dodging the Bullet

A new month. Things to be thankful for and things to look forward to, but some things never change.

There are many things that make some foreigners here cynical, tired, disillusioned and even bitter. One of these for me is the Russian Roulette I seem to play every day. I'm talking about people who drive here in Korea - cars and bikes. I'm not saying they're the worst in the world, I'm just saying they're the worst I've ever seen.

Perhaps drivers feel I have a Death Wish and they are only helping me out, but I doubt it. Are cars genuinely trying to run me down? At times I feel they are. Every day almost without fail, I see something on the road that makes me think WHY? In the past I've seen drivers nearly run over cripples, children and elderly people in the rush to get to wherever they are going. I've also seen people ignore ambulances and fire engines who rush to get to hospitals and fires, basically ignoring their critical needs. To me its a microcosm, at times, of parts of Korean society. The need to to something quickly, cutting corners and disregarding whatever and whoever stands in their way. I find myself asking the question, is the problem Korean drivers or just people in Daegu? To that I do not know the answer, but there is a failing in the mentality of some of the locals here who are quite simply insanely selfish.

Crossings are quite frankly a lottery at times, but one that is fixed because you know what is going to happen. It's green, time for me to cross right? Wrong. How dare I get in the way of someone who wants to run a red light. The truth is that night-time is even worse. Just tonight a driver went through a red light when I was half way across, oblivious to my own existence and perhaps so blinkered that he didn't even know he was speeding through a crossing. Of course this was not the first time this has happened to me. I have lost count of how many times I have felt in danger simply crossing the road.

Taxi drivers are a law unto themselves. They simply do what they want. They are totally different to everybody else. They have their own rulebook and nobody ever says anything about it. It beggars belief. And don't get me started on how many times they've ripped me off by taking me the long way home. I've not even mentioned the crazy deliverymen who zig-zag their days on bikes at high speed across the road and the pavement. Perhaps another time.

To some it may not be important but as someone who works with children all day long, I am acutely aware of how fragile they can be and of how they at times are unaware of how dangerous the world is. I could never bring up a child here as I would constantly worry that they would be run over and knocked down. Also, a worrying amount of Korean men here drive after getting hammered on soju and beer. Most foreigners have seen a hilariously drunk guy get in a car after a long night on the booze and laughed at him and how daft he looks, but there's a darker reality to what could happen. I wonder what the figures are on traffic incidents. They must be sky high.

No this is one game that I don't want to play again but I can't see a way out of it right now. I can only hope that I keep my wits about me and keep on dodging the bullet because I know that nothing here is going to change.

1 comment:

Alexis Anderson Lee said...

Your photography is amazing. You can take the same old scene but frame it in a way that catches something new or underscores the point you're trying to make. The green "walk" light, for instance... It's the first time I've ever seen the little man look precarious, wobbly, or drunk... You do it, man.

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