She sold me: Korean edition

So it’s early in the morning for everyone else but late at night for me, and I walk into this grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. As I’m walking down one of the aisles, someone makes eye contact with me. I look away instinctively – I just want to get my bread and get back, right?

But as I continue walking, she starts talking to me. I know she’s talking to me because she’s speaking English. It’s broken English, but in Korea in a grocery store in the area where I live now, there’s not a whole lot of other people she’d be speaking to, not to mention there’s no one else around.

I don’t remember what she said exactly, but somehow she asked me if I would please try some of her sample in a cup, and somehow I found myself standing in front of her little cart, about to sample some of that blue stuff in her cup, now my cup.

She hands it to me with two hands, and I accept it in kind, mentally noting the awkwardness of four hands on a cup whose base is the size of a coin.

I guess I’ve been in Korean long enough to forget to question strange stuff, though:  I one-shot it without even checking to see what I’m drinking. It’s Gatorade, I realize, a new variety, I’m told.

She starts on about all the health benefits – “It’s better than water” – and the 30% price reduction. I’m beginning to wonder how I’m going to get out of this.

At the same time, though, I got to give her props for the spiel. Normally, she’d have this down verbatim, but not in my case. She’s speaking English, for corn’s sake. She’s making this up on the fly, not just the presentation, the individual words too.

I wonder how long she studied at a hagwon? I wonder if she ever went to JLS? I wonder if she ever sells any of this Gatorade to Koreans?

Maybe they drink Gatorade. I don’t know. I’ve never seen Koreans drinking it here, but then again I haven’t seen any foreigners drinking it here either. I wonder.

Anyway, the Gatorade’s pretty good – I’m a sucker for the blue flavor – and pretty cheap, probably ’cause no one buys it. But really, I think I just like that she’s speaking English and making it up as she goes and trying so hard to sell even though it’s a lousy time for selling, and no one else is around to care about her or her blue little beverage.

So when she gets around to asking me to make a decision, a good move on her part, I’m like, “Okay, yeah, I’ll buy some.”

“Oh, thank you,” she says, “You are my first customer.” And that makes me smile for too many reasons, probably another good move on her part.

And next thing I know, I’m walking out of the grocery store with a loaf of bread and two 1.5 liter bottles of Gatorade, wondering if I made a good decision and wondering if I’ll see her next time I stumble into the store in the middle of the early morning shift.