The day of the week I suspected would be least dramatic.
Something truly akin to a 90s romcom transpired. After exiting the gym, and running into a whole slew of boys from school and encouraging them to do jump tricks on their bike, I wandered around the school side of town to look for Christmas gifts and I happened upon an advertisement for a used bookstore.
There was a moment of hesitation but I took the plunge down an LED lit set of stairs to the basement of a building through a set of industrial metal doors and into a large room with stacks upon stacks upon shelves of books where in the middle of it all sat a young man at a computer.
I’m quite sure he didn’t expect for a foreign beauty like me to come in to the used bookstore in a basement on the outskirts of town on a Tuesday night. His reaction was so strong that I asked if I had come into the store when it was actually closed (it was open).
He was shocked. Truly.
I told him different things that I was looking for and we communicated in some combination of Korean and English when one or the other failed. He was so nervous that his hands were shaking and I sympathize greatly: There’s nothing more traumatizing than suddenly being forced to dust off and use a language you’re not comfortable with.
I apologized to him for not speaking Korean so well (since I seemed to be putting him under a lot of stress) and he said “no no I’m sorry that I can’t speak English”.
It was not my intention but I sent him running errands all around the store. He pulled a kids book and I told him “I think that’s a bit complicated” and he replied “Pororo is too complicated? But you’re studying for level two of Korean”.
He actually graduated with a degree in Korean language and literature so I felt bad turning down his suggestions but I’m just not at the level of reading college textbooks. I left not so long after, and when the other owner came in, because I really felt bad for putting him under such strain. I’m quite sure that after I was gone he put his head in his hands and screamed.
I imagine the older owner just laughed at him.