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.