“Unchained Melodies” was not playing over the radio this weekend at the pottery studio in Gangjin as I was hand-in-hand with a beautiful Korean woman on the pottery wheel, but the moment was no less special for me. In fact, she snorted in disgust when I messed up the bowl that was being formed by our two hands. But for a few minutes we worked together to form something out of clay. Despite my failure and her disgust with the Mi-gook, I still felt a connection between two people without words exchanged.
We have tried to order food for delivery from the diner up the street. When we try to order in Korean, they only say “No” and hang up. I end up walking the few blocks to the diner to order carry out. The women and I share a laugh at our inabilities to communicate.
Then there was the cab driver earlier this week. I hopped in his cab unable to properly tell him the direction I was headed in. I had the number of the destination but lacked the Korean language skills to tell him. Somewhat amused he pulled over to call my destination. I didn’t notice that he only had one arm until he held the phone up to his ear with his right nub, and I didn’t grow very concerned about his disability until he pulled out into rush hour traffic speaking in loud Korean while occasionally steering with his nub. We laughed though after the mess was cleared up. If I could have given him a handshake, I would have.
Sometimes I miss the ability to communicate with words, but other times I find the wordless exchanges a lot more special.