Although I pride myself on my independence and on breaking down gender barriers whenever possible, there is one area of life that I seem to have no power in . . . automobiles. (I also have no interest in cars, but they just keep popping up.)
Cars make all of my ideals come crashing down. I've had two cars in my life and they were both Honda Accords. Dad helped Nickie and I find the first one and Mom helped me find the second. What I remember about them includes: their color and year, as well as the tragic ending of the first Honda. I knew they had engines but I knew nothing of the specifics. I also knew that the second one had a bad battery and an oil leak. When I had a problem with said vehicles, my ideals went straight out the door. I worked the pity angle. I stood aside and looked as helpless as possible. I thought of a stray kitten and tried to channel that emotion until someone came to help me. So I was none to excited to start looking for a used car in Korea.
Think of it. Not only are cars already confusing, but everything is in a different language. And in kilometers. Are you kidding me? Do you have any 92 Hondas I can just drive away right now?
Chin-Hwa and I began our day at a small lot that was owned by a family friend. The first salesperson I saw was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and had slightly thinning hair. I suddenly felt more at ease, knowing that at least car salesperson fashion can transcend continents. He tried to talk us into a smoky smelling Hyundai and we had good enough sense to back away slowly. The rest of our searching led us to assorted Hyundais, Kias, and Daewoos, none of which seemed right.
In the end, we gave one last ditch effort and rode the subway down to the Army base in Seoul. We figured at least those used car ads would be in English. We hit the veritable jackpot and were soon test driving a 96 Hyundai Accent through a parking lot. One hour later, we were putting down our deposit. She ain't a beauty, but hey, she's alright. We are now car owners.
Now I have to begin mentally preparing for the countless harrowing moments behind the wheel among these crazy Korean drivers...oh, and I have to go find a Hello Kitty themed carseat cover. And a GPS.