Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Talking To Yoda

So I am at work yesterday and one of my favorite customers comes in. I am not being sarcastic, I actually like this guy. He is an elderly Korean guy that has had a stroke and uses a wheelchair to scoot around. The funny part is that he does not liked being pushed I don't think so he uses his feet and his cane to propel the chair around. It looks almost as if he is rowing on pavement and he does not go fast. When he speaks, he does so with a heavy Korean accent and he has one squinty eye. He also chuckles a lot in between fragmented sentences English. All of these mannerisms has led me to secretly nicknaming him, Yoda.

When Yoda usually comes in the store, it is with his wife who is a very nice lady that I have yet to nickname. Yoda has a hankering for electronics and if he had his way, he would buy my entire department and then some. The guy loves DVD players and computers especially. Yesterday, he comes in and I think he beat his wife in the race to get to my department first because he was alone for quite a while. He and I talked about DVD players and recorders and also Tivo like devices. After this discussion, he asks me if I know anything about computers to which I reply that I know a little bit. He then goes on to explain how when he had his stroke he lost most of the functionality of his left side and has a hard time typing on the keyboard and hates pecking at the keys with his right hand. I do not ever want to have a stroke. I had never thought about not being able to type and I think it would drive me mad. But I digress. Yoda wanted to know if there was a way he could use the mouse to do his typing and for some reason I remembered the on screen keyboard feature that XP comes equipped with. I so him how to turn it on so that when he gets home he can do this for himself and at least have an easier time at pecking on the keyboard. I was glad I was able to help him.

This is where stuff gets interesting. Yoda starts talking about how he read in a magazine about the CEO of my company and how good of a guy he is. Which is true, the CEO of the company is a really cool guy. Yoda then goes on to talk about how the CEO treats all of the employees and customers very well and how most of the people that work for the business are happy. This is about the time that I mention that I have a degree in history and education but I get paid more selling computers than I ever would teaching. Yoda perked up at this and asked what history I taught, thinking that I specialized in United States history...probably because I am white and that is what most historians around Idaho specialize in. When I told him that my emphasis was in Asian history, specifically Japanese and Chinese, I thought Yoda was going to fall out of his wheelchair. He started to tell me that I needed to learn Korean history as well....which is true but books about Korean history are more difficult to come by around here.

Yoda goes on to give me a miniature history lesson which was quite entertaining if not somewhat biased. For those who do not know, historically speaking, Koreans and Japanese people do not get along. They are extremely competitive with each other and both countries have shafted the other one at some point so both hold nasty grudges with each other to this day. One thing about most Asian cultures is that their sense of cultural memory is friggin' huge......HUGE. If the U.S. and Britain were Asian, we would still be pissed at each other for the Revolutionary War. Anywho, Yoda goes on to tell me that the Japanese Shinto belief system originally came from Korean shamans. This to me is plausible because the dresscode is the same for both Korean shamans and Shinto priests. He then went on to explain that when Confucious wrote his teachings and words of wisdom, he got quite a few of them from observing some of the Korean tribes that neighbored the Shandong province in which he lived. All in all this was a pretty cool conversation to be having with the guy and I was happy to listen to him because I think he was enjoying telling me all of this and I was glad that my history degree was acutally being useful for once.

Toward the end of the conversation, I mentioned that I knew some Japanese and he firmly reminded me that whenever I speak Japanese, I should remember that Koreans came first and are a much older culture than that of the Japanese. He also wanted me to know that the Korean language was much older and had more in common with Chinese. Ahh...interracial competition.

After this friendly reminder, Yoda's wife showed up and he took her to look at the DVD recorders that he wanted and she, like usual, told him he could not have one. It was very much like a mother telling her ten year old he can't buy the action figure because he already has too many of them. Those two really crack me up.

Anywho, that was my significant conversation of the day yesterday. I like being able to talk history, especially Asian history with other people. I also like observing how other people spin history when it suits them. It is not like Yoda was outright lying to me because most of the stuff he told me was at least partially true or plausible. He was just making sure that his culture looked good while explaining everything to me. Can't blame him there.


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