Oops...been away for a while and did not see this until today. I should have known what 98G was, because a good friend with whom I still stay in touch was a 98G in Cambodian. And I should have been able to figure out what RU stood for because my own DD-214 says I was a 98C2LBU (Burmese).
Oh, well, getting old.
Nice to find another
"linguist"! Mine was Korean, though.
I thought it was rather "funny", when they give you the list of languages, and you select your "preferences", for me
, they seemed to rate it exactly the opposite
! Last on my list were "Asian" languages, and I get Korean. Then, they give the options for base locations, and with Korean, you only have Japan or Korea, so I picked
Japan, but got
Korea. Like I said, everything was opposite what I wanted, but it all worked out.
I actually enjoyed my time in Korea, partly because
I could speak the language. Had one really awesome
experience, and one that was pretty bad
. Everything else was somewhere in between, with most being on the good side.
The "bad" experience was walking down a street one day, and saw a "mink blanket" in the window of a shop I hadn't been in before. As soon as I step in the door, I can hear the sales guy hollering back in Korean to the woman in the back, "Here's another dumb GI! Let me see how much I can get out of him?" I played along, and only spoke English, asking how much he wanted for the blanket. He hollers back in Korean again, "How much did we pay for that? About $4?", then turns back to me, and in English says, "I give you my best price. $15!" I responded, "I don't think so.", and in Korean, said "See you later!" He immediately said, "You understood us!", and gets all apologetic, offering to sell it to me for $4, as long as I didn't tell anyone else on base. I got it for $4, and I told everyone I knew to avoid his shop.
The "good" experience, though, far outweighed
that! I decided to ride my bicycle to the coast, since it was only about 5 miles away, and I used to ride 10 miles easy all the time. The roads were pretty crummy, though, mostly rutted dirt with rocks and chunks of concrete sometimes in the middle, and it took me a lot longer to get about halfway there. So, I decided to turn around, and head back, and see these folks planting rice in a paddy next to the "road". It looked like extremely hard, back-breaking work! One of the workers sitting on the bank between the paddies hollers over to me in Korean to "come over". Reluctantly, I go, half expecting him to beat me up (most learn Tae Kwon Do at an early age) and take my bicycle, but instead
, he offers to "share" the "lunch", which consisted of one small
bowl of rice and one small
bowl of kimchi, with me. Now, I never actually "acquired" the taste of kimchi even after a year there, but I questioned him, in Korean, that this was the meal for all
the workers? He replied that it was, and wanted
me to have some with
him. Since I could say it in Korean (which all
Koreans consider to be extremely
intelligent for non
-native Koreans, so they highly respect that), I politely refused, saying that I couldn't "steal" the fool from the mouths of these hard workers, so he wasn't
insulted, as he might normally
be with that kind of refusal. I was so humbled
and felt so bad
for my earlier expectation of him, but that
"hospitality", IMHO!! Something I will never
forget as long as I live!!