Ruth’s parents and uncle are visiting us here in Korea at the moment, hence the lack of posts recently. We’ll post what we’ve been up to while they’ve been here soon.
Something I noticed this week is a phenomenal amount of ageism. With Ruth’s family in tow we’ve been treated differently to what Ruth and I are used to here; In restaurants they’ve been treated like kings with free food and drinks; On the way to school Ruth’s mum wanted to take a photo up in the mountains but with the windy roads it was difficult. The bus driver stopped the whole bus letting them get off to take a picture. How about that? They’ve also had old people (let me rephrase that – people of advancing years) coming up to them bowing and wanting to chat.
Has this happened to us? Well, yes, to a point. We’ve had generous people help us out, go out of their way to do something for us, but not really to this degree.
Take, for example, the bus that I am sat on right now. I’m on the way out to a school in the back of beyond. I’m about half way into the trip now and everyone else has got off the bus at their various stops (generally much older people than me I might add!). The driver, having seemed calm and enjoying a bit of banter with the passengers is now driving like a maniac. It really feels like I don’t exist, he’s forgotten that there’s another human on board, and one that would prefer not to end up rolling down one of these mountains. Plus, believe me, typing while flying round hairpin bends at 50mph is not much fun. It leaves me to wonder whether, had Ruth’s family been on board, would he be driving like he was leading the Monte Carlo rally. The cynic in me says “I doubt it”.
Do I agree with this whole ageist philosophy? Simply, no. Why should age determine with how much respect I’m treated? I think you must earn respect, and so it shouldn’t depend on how old you are. I do understand that this is one of those cultural differences here that I’ve struggled to get past, and is so different to what I’m used to back at home in England.
So, what is the moral of this story? Take a person of advancing years with you everywhere you go… I guess.