Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Please stop smoking in my hallway and my elevator!

A letter to my neighbors to stop smoking in my hallway!
    Exiting the city streets engulfed by the polluted air of Seoul into an apartment or office building can sometimes be relieving. This is simply because the air quality is usually much better due to average heating and air conditioning systems. But lately, getting off the elevator in my apartment building is a source of enormous frustration. I enter into a hallway completely filled of smoke, and hold my breathe as a run all the way to the end of the hall and open my door as quickly as possible. But then once inside my apartment, I have relized that the smoke seeped in through the cracks around the door and I still haven't escaped!
    Why do I put up with this on a daily basis? The smoke is clearly from the two young girls that smoke at the end of my hallway next to the window. I have complained to them before saying "smoking anyeo!" no smoking in Korean, and all they do is laugh at me like I'm some stupid foreigner. Well I have news for you Korea. I'm not some stupid Waygooken. I have asthma for Christ sakes, and the pollution in Seoul is enough to deal with!
    So two days ago after returning from the gym to a smoke filled hallway, I finally had enough. I walked over to the window and left it wide open so the girls would have a freezing cold draft of air seeping into their apartment which is right next to the window. Secondly, I stole the hidden lighters by the window! The next day I did the same exact thing, and carried one of the lighters with me to work so that I would remember to ask a Korean co-worker to help write me a letter.
    The letter reads: Hello, please do not smoke in the hallway. The smoke comes into my apartment. Please use the rooftop or go outside. Thank you. I taped the letter to the window and returned all 4 of the lighters that I had stolen from the days before. It has only been 2 days, but no other lighters have appeared yet, and there hasn't been any smoke. But the sign was ripped down.

    I hope that this problem will be resolved, and that Koreans will have more respect about where they smoke. Most people would think that smoking inside an enclosed hallway is completely rude, and all of my students and Korean co-workers agree. The girls are simply lazy, and don't want to go outside into the cold, or take the effort to board the elevator all the way to the rooftop or downstairs. This story seems strange enough, until I consider the time that I was going to work and a man started smoking inside the elevator! He simply couldn't wait a lousy 30 seconds to light up, and so I had to suffer the consequences.
    Everyone knows that smoking is a huge epidemic in Asia, and Korea is no exception. I went to my class the next day, and to my irony had to teach an article about product warnings. The article was about cigarette warnings. We were brainstorming positive and negative things about smoking, and all the male students could come up with were positive reasons. Some of them included: relief from stress, a good feeling, looking cool, a cheap price in Korea, and more tax money for the government. All I can say is, "Lord help them!" and "Please stop smoking in my hallway and my elevator!"

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Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

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Creative Commons License
Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
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