The fine art of sanctimonyI always thought that taxi drivers here got a bad rap. Though people complain that the cabbies are dishonest and rude and drive dangerously, I never had a particularly bad experience.
That is, not until the other night, when I found out that Seoul’s taxi drivers are WARMONGERERS, and are aggravating economic jitters, not to mention market skittishness.
Yes, after a night of jitter-free and skittishless Itaewon wandering, I hailed a cab, and had the following exchange with the driver:
“Are you American?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m American,” I said, in that mandatory guilty-as-charged tone.
He beamed, making me feel uneasy, in an economic way. “The war is so good, so good!” he said. “Americans are helping the Iraqi people!”
“Yes, maybe,” I said, fearing a trap.
“Next, the Americans need to go to North Korea!” he said.
“No, no, that wouldn’t do,” I said.
As the war-liking driver proceeded to gush about the “marvelous” rescue of the young woman soldier who had been held prisoner by the Iraqis, I began to get edgy and alarmed. It’s talk like this, I thought, that will be the ruin of the economy. According to experts, the local economy is in a full-blown recession, and can only get worse.
Because of that experience in the taxi, the economic doomsayers here at Itaewon Wanderings have formed a group to counter the cabbie belligerents: the Itaewon Wanderings Participatory Against the Numerous Dangersome Roadhogs (I-PANDER). This new civic group will be very important and sanctimonious and complain about everything it can. Condescendingly, it will demand written apologies from all of Seoul’s taxi drivers, as well as its school principals, chief executive officers, pesky reporters, Starbuckses, parents, grandparents and those guys on the sidewalks making fish cookies.
Most importantly, I-PANDER will work to discourage taxi drivers from telling foreigners that they are happy with the war in Iraq. Many foreigners, in fact, are foreign investors, and if they get jittery or skittish the local economy will tank ― er, be negatively impacted.
If the cabbies call for a war against North Korea, I-PANDER will stop them!
And to head off the economic gloom, I-PANDER promises not to criticize North Korea in any way. It will also complain vehemently when mean-spirited groups point fingers at Pyeongyang.
Like the United States. Its former envoy to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, recently called North Korea “hell on earth,” and its government decried Pyeongyang’s human rights abuses.
Stupid words like these worsen the jitters. Why should Washington complain about human rights in the North? We don’t hear the North Koreans complaining.
And we checked into Ms. Kirkpatrick’s background. Turns out she’s from Oklahoma. She’ll have to apologize for that, too.
First, though, we’ll get the cabbies to make a U-turn at the red light and get back on the right side of the ideological road.
by Mike Ferrin