Barely glancing the take out menu in my hand, I automatically dial the number I have so often dialed before.
This time it’s a man’s voice on the line. Sometimes a woman picks up, but today it’s some guy whose voice I also recognize.
Without my even saying anything he recites the address I am currently at.
Without my even thinking I say “재육덮밥 하나 주세요”
Without any response the man on the other end hangs up. I don’t mind. I know that soon someone will bring food directly to my office and I will pay him and he will leave and I will eat and place the dishes outside of my building and in an hour or so he, or someone else will come get them. The circle of lunch.
A Korean co-worker overhears my order and remarks “your Korean is improving”
“Well, it’s just my lunch order”
“Yes, but I can tell your intonation is very good”
This makes me laugh, “well, I order the same 3 or 4 things every day so I hope I’m good at it by now”
“So many foreigners don’t know how to order their own food, but you are very good”
“Thanks” I say, and we part ways to our respective work spaces.
In about 10 or 15 minutes someone will bring me food. He probably thinks I am fluent in Korean.
In the land of foreigners who often refuse to learn basic language skills to get by the foreigner who can order lunch is king.