Friday, March 06, 2009


I'll round-out this week's theme with a real-life illustration taken from my long Delta Airlines flight home in January. I didn't notice this week tended toward an overarching theme until the subject of this entry occurred to me. Just goes to show how the world grows beyond my ability to plan for it. I'm surprised I noticed at all. My last round-the-world fly-day had three legs, the long middle drive from Atlanta to Korea being about fifteen-point-five hours long. One saving grace: there was an empty seat between me and the quiet, middle-aged woman who had the window. She kept to herself, was very polite, and only asked me to get up to let her by twice. It was the next best thing to having the row to myself. What's this have to do with anything? I guess it's important to remember that no matter how thoroughly someone understandings another culture, how intimately they've immersed themselves, there's still a line dividing what really is and what is merely expectation. Becoming truly receptive to what's happening under conditions of absolute alienation will require letting go of speculation. Speculation is just a prejudice which, by definition, cannot be related to the unfamiliar, right? Our very competent, intelligent Delta cabin attendant was a western Caucasian. I don't want to speculate on her story, of course, but she was certainly very fluent in Korean. She addressed the sizeable Korean population onboard as easily as she spoke to me in English. She obviously knew her stuff. But each time she spoke in Korean to my neighbor at the window, that polite and quiet woman had to explain, in embarrassed English, how she was actually Chinese and didn't speak Korean. I'm not making a big deal out of one mistake, this happened half-a-dozen times. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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