I love people.
I love drinking.
And, I love drinking with people.
One evening, I went out with my friends to a farewell party for a friend who was being relocated to Singapore.
As usual, we all went to a Korean BBQ place. Now, you have to understand that my friends and I don’t order drinks — we manufacture drinks — specifically Korean-style, kick-your-butt, rocket-fuel boilermakers, and it’s like a holy ritual for which you shouldn’t be late even one minute.
And that night, we manufactured lots of boilermakers. We fiercely drank a lot just like a competition. Everyone enjoyed talking and drinking, and delivering best wishes to our departing friend. I drank so much so fast that I got pie-eyed, rubber-legged, howl-at-the-moon, text-your-ex drunk, so I decided to go home early.
Fortunately, in Korea, we have a paid driver service on call, which is very convenient and prevents driving under the influence. The driver will drive your car, with you in it, to your home and it only costs about $10. Isn’t it nice how the Korean culture is optimized for drinking?
So, I called a paid driver to drive me and my car home. When the driver arrived, I handed over my car key to him. He clicked the remote controller to find my car. My car was supposed to respond by blinking its lights. But nothing happened even after we walked around the parking lot two or three times. I thought my car was stolen!
Then, I realized that I had not driven to the restaurant, but instead I had taken a cab. Which meant that my car was still in the parking lot of my company building. I apologetically told the driver, “I did not drive here. My car is at the parking lot of my office building. I am sorry, but would you be able to come with me to the office?” I was still drunk and was not thinking clearly. The driver was very annoyed, but finally acquiesced.
We hailed a cab to go to my office parking lot. The paid driver sat in the front passenger seat next to the cab driver. Wow, I have two professional drivers in the car. How luxurious and safe I am! I got in the back seat and promptly fell asleep. Then, about five minutes later, I suddenly woke up.
At first, I didn’t know where I was or what was going on. Then, I realized that I was in a cab. And I am thinking;
‘There is a cab driver who is driving. Ok. I got that. Then, who is the person sitting next to the driver? I was supposed to be the only passenger of this cab. Who is this strange guy in the cab? Are the driver and this guy a criminal team? O, My, God. Are they trafficking me?’
Then, I started shouting and screaming. “Who are you?” “How dare you try to kidnap me just because I’m drunk?, Let me out. Let me out. Stop the car. Stop the car. Somebody help me, Somebody help me.” I am screaming and vigorously kicking the back side of the front seat.
Upon my screaming, the two guys in front jerked their heads around and stared at me, jaws dropped, eyes popped. The cab driver’s frowning face looked much more shocked than me, and he said, “W…What are you talking about? You got in the cab with him together.” The paid driver seemed woefully and utterly lost for words for a second, then stuttered, “You…you…you asked me to go to your office. I..I…I am your paid driver you called. Don…don…don’t you remember that?”
I got sober momentarily, and remembered the whole thing.
“I called the paid driver, and I asked him to come to my office together to get my car, and we are on the cab on the way to the office. And now, I claimed this kind man and the driver are criminals who are trying to traffic me.” I was mortified! It was like ‘Bite the hand who feeds one’.
The only words I repeated to them for the next 10 minutes were, “I am so sorry, I am terribly sorry.” When I got out, the driver endeavored to suppress his condemnation.
Finally, at length, the paid driver and I found my car at the company park lots, and he drove me and my car to my home. On the way there, neither of us said one word. Actually, I passed out immediately in the car. When we arrived at my place, he woke me up. I apologized again, and plied him with generous tips.
Even now, whenever I recall this experience, I feel very sorry for both the cab driver and the paid driver. I feel inconceivably embarrassed. I think this is one moment that I want to perpetually erase from my memory, along with countless other moments around my drinking. Maybe, I can share another of my many drinking fun stories in my younger days.