Silent Treatment

fuck yeah!

Megan and I trotted up to Seoul this weekend with a group of friends to see a concert, and, pressed for time, we took the train there and back instead of the luxury bus we are accustomed to. (It is not really very luxurious.) Pumped for the show and prowling the train for beers, we 6 Americans had a tough time keeping it quiet and together. Even on the ride back to Gwangju we were restless and talkative. We are barbaric in our need to express emotion with our mouths.

You see, public transportation in Korea is a halcyon sanctuary, cathedral-quiet and peaceful, where everyone reads the newspaper and scowls at the philistines’ gaping maws. Maws are not for using. It is most difficult to treat  transit as one might treat a library, given that things like this happen on the trains, planes and buses of my homeland:


No surprise then that we were shushed by the train staff over a wild game of Hearts. And that we immediately took offense to said shushing, as it’s a  TRAIN and we weren’t even being THAT loud. So we got sarcastic instead of quiet. Because duh, we weren’t even being LOUD, Korea! GOD! Like you’re so perfect!

Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that our British friend (who tagged along with us on the way home) did not receive the same treatment as the Americans. He was being very British nearby, listening to Karl Pilkington podcasts and chortling to himself; no shushing required. Also, not a single Korean was hushed, not even the wailing babies. (We took it upon ourselves to berate the babies, sarcastically.)

So the only conclusions I can draw are: A) we are as loud and horrible as the world thinks, or B) we are victims of racial profiling. Occam-ing suggests inclining toward the prior hypothesis. We Americans in question made noise with our faces and didn’t take kindly to polite suggestions to stop. Guilty of all charges in that Google search bar picture. Worse, we are the jackassiest jackasses about it, because when confronted about our volume, we respond with more and greater volume.  To our credit, we’re only trying to have a good time. But doing so in the vicinity of dour ajummas and businessmen is strictly verboten.

9 responses to “Silent Treatment

  1. I have to say that i hated americans before i actually met some of them. now some of my best friends are yanks and i slag them off quitely when their back are turned 😉

  2. Maws are also not to be used for eating. Back home you could eat a whole suckling pig on the bus with barely an askance gander.

    Also, once on a subway back from Seoul, a man approached our group, and acted as vox populi, stating, “You must listen. People are not used to English. This is not America. You cannot be loud.” At the time, he was speaking to Canadians, South Africans, and Irish, so you can imagine how well we took to being called Americans.

    • I really am sorry about that. As much as I hate the stereotype applying to me sometimes, at least it’s the appropriate nationality. Heartfelt apologies for reflecting poorly upon y’all.

      • No worries. Apparently the stereotype of boorishness should apply to all of our countries, because immediately after that we jack-assed it up further to annoy that man.

  3. Don’t worry Erin, when I see Koreans walking down the wrong side of the sidewalk I always run in to them and knock them down. When they look at me and ask, “Hey jerk! Why did you do that?!”

    I say, “…REVENGE.”

  4. I’m sure you do, Joel. I’m sure you do.

  5. But we WEREN’T being loud. If we were being drunk and yelling and whatnot, I would understand it. AND since I have experience being sushed on trains before I actually do try to keep my voice down.

    Not being able to talk on the train back from Seoul is like being in time out for three hours.

    • i knooooooow. but i can’t decide if we only THINK we were being quiet because we start suffering severe hearing damage at birth, being surrounded by other noisy Americans. I just don’t know.

  6. Sometimes you have to make some noise (plus, it’s just another one of those things where no one tells the Koreans to be quiet). Went on a train ride with my swing dance group and the Koreans were having a grand old time. We ate kimbop and eggs and were totally noisy. It was awesome.

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