First off, have you ever travelled and judged people simply based on actions you deemed ‘unnecessary’ or ‘wasteful’ or whatnot? Well, in Korea, that’s exactly what I did.
There are these special Korean creatures we call “ahjummas’ (ahjumma in singular). They are married women, usually with children, who are deadly afraid of the sun and will cover every inch of their body to avoid sun exposure, and who hoard EVERYTHING. I usually judge their wasteful ways, especially when I see them hoarding bathroom tissue, or chopsticks from restaurants, or plastic bags, etc.
Secondly, have you ever travelled and had a culture shock? I usually don’t, but what I DO get is a “daily routines and practices” shock, such as rules to be followed in public and undisclosed practices for public places.
In this story, both of these – the ahjumma and the undisclosed practices – meet.
I experienced the terrible runs and had to run to the washroom immediately. I was at a subway station and this entails battling a maze of corridors before one finds a washroom sigh. I did, finally. It was an ordeal, but I prevailed – or so I thought.
As I ran past the crowd of women and girls putting on make up and ajhummas hoarding toilet paper, all I could think of was that beautiful shiny toilet bowl. I got to it (almost hugged it), sat down and dropped the torpedo (I even used that pooping bell that is provided for the sake of public decency in each stall of a washroom). Then, as I turned to grab some toilet paper: THE HORROR. There was none! I panicked. Looked through my purse, looked in my pockets, even considered looking through the disposal bin from some unused piece of tissue I could wipe myself with, but there was nothing!
Then, it hit me; that ajhumma was onto something. She was simply gathering paper because none is provided in the stall itself! I knocked on the stall’s wall and asked her for some. She was kind enough to pass it onto me.
I will never forget her kindness in that moment of darkness haha. She was my bathroom angel 🙂
I shall never again judge ahjummas. Long live Ahjummas!
Toodles everyone. Enjoy your Sunday!