Thursday, July 18, 2013

That's not your parking space.

I had a 1992 Hyundai Elantra manual speed transmission.

I know. You're impressed, right? The car was eleven years old, but might just as well have been a bar of soap because no Korean would even have bought this product of blood, sweat, and kimchee. Sure, you might have been able to find eleven year old cars around farms, the poorer neighborhoods, or just got missed, literally, by that little old ajumma who drives her Hyundai to The Church of the Neon Red Cross on Sunday mornings.
I had three requirements in a motorized vehicle whilst car shopping:
1. It had to be domestic. They are the easiest and cheapest to fix.
2. It had to inexpensive. Mine put me back $400.
3. It had to be maroon. Ok, it was maroon to begin with, which is awesome.
Parking my vintage Hyundai was a problem in the neighborhood. You see, I didn't know this at first, but Koreans actually own the public land in front of their Soviet-style, Eastern European, dog box apartments. That's right. The DAKs think they own the parking places in front of their apartments. A lot of ajosshis drill chain links into the street, attach a ghetto-style concrete block, and have that block sit there guarding ajosshi's parking space whilst he wastes his time at work working for a soulless chabol in a mind numbing, low pay, thankless, unskilled irritating, Sisyphean hell that is the Korean office.
So, one day I parked my maroon vintage Hyundai in front of my apartment building. I left my phone number on the dash, as everyone does, because we are all friends, right?  ^^ I open up a 40oz. and start lining up my side dishes and rice for dinner. I get a frantic phone call before I can eat. I answer the phone, and right away this ajosshi is screaming my license plate number over the phone. I really can't make out a damn thing he is saying as: a) this DAK was screaming into a cell phone; and b) I could also hear him both through the back window and through the closed, bolted hollow steel door.
I go down to the car and there is a mid-30s ajosshi standing in front of my lovely Hyundai. A small door, smaller than a normal door is open behind him. OK, got it. He is the downstairs neighbor and I am too close to his door perhaps.
"No. No, foreigner. Please understand my culture. This parking space in front my apartment on the public street is my parking space."
"I live here," I retorted.
"So do I," he replied.
And with that, I smile, shrugged my shoulders, and went upstairs, cracking another 40 from the fridge.
Drunk. I slept. In the morning, there were key marks all down the side of my car. That stupid motherfucker. It was so painfully obvious that it was him. At least wait a few days before vandalizing my car; it makes it seem so much more random.
I was pissed off, but it was not all that surprising. I figured he'd want to have it out one way or another. Make a Korean angry or upset, and that anger will ferment and get ripe, just like right before some Korean goes batshit crazy on society. Fermented and overripe Korean inner hatred for all things.
I would have to retaliate. But I would wait a few days. After a late night of drinking in the university district, I stumbled home. As the apartment came into view, I saw his car parked in the disputed DMZ of our shared shitty back alleyway. I looked for something to scratch his car. What I found was a large pointy rock. I pressed it into the hood of his car and gouged. To my surprise, without much effort the pointy rock drove a deep groove into the hood. I thought about how cheap that car must have been to be made so pliable.
I never heard from that man again. I guess he looked at his Hyundai and looked at my Hyundai, and realized that my car was the unwanted orphan of the Please Understand My Car Culture Wars.   



  1. Good job.

    It takes huge balls to key someone's car when they know that you did it and know your car.

    The shop owners think that they own the public space in front of their stores too.

  2. It takes balls, indeed, Mr. Anonymous. And I'll tell you this: if I were to hammer chain links into the concrete in front of my house where MY parking space is, I don't know where you are from, but in MY first-world country the follow would happen:

    1. Numerous neighbors would call the police to complain.
    2. The police would be compelled to investigate it, know, that's part of their job, to investigate complaints and BE PROFESSIONAL ABOUT IT.
    3. A complaint would be filed and I would be summarily fined by the city or the city would be up my ass about it and then fine me.

    Bottom line: several hundred dollars in fines and several hundred dollars to get it paved over. I might even get arrested over it.

    But that is Please Understand My First World Culture. A great part of which is woven into the 5000 years of Korean culture, albeit the worst "consumer buy-buy-buy shit you don't need" part of it.