I never really got into hockey, but growing up my block was one of those neighborhoods where kids played seasonal sports in the streets. Whenever we played hockey in the streets, we normally moved to the Zach or Robbie’s driveway. Robbie was the kid you had to beg to come out and play, to make the teams even. The good thing about playing on Zach’s driveway is that you could shoulder check players against the garage. I’m pretty sure that’s why most of the kids played! As soon as a player was approaching goal post to score, you could slam him into the garage!
I was reminded of this childhood experience by something that I’ve witnessed on occasion in Seoul. In the same manner that some people only play hockey to check someone, my friend Jered joked that some people only ride subways to shoulder check people! Now obviously Seoul is the second largest metropolitan area by population, aside from Tokyo, so it’s only natural that people are going to bump into each other from time to time. Unfortunately, because it is so normal for people to push and bump during the busy and crowded times of the day, some people have set this as their default mode even when there is tons of space. I have certainly taken a number of hits, but I strategically do a number of things to reduce physical contact. Because I commute to work each day, I normally get on and off at set locations, and near the end of each ride I begin to position myself in the lead exiting position. Yesterday while rocking my Santa hat, I glanced over and saw a man to my left that was not exuding the same holiday cheer. I could tell he was a, *Checker-( noun) someone who is overly aggressive during metropolitan travel, and in life in general.” So instead of holding my lead position, I acquiesced, because I was sure this dude was gonna try to squeeze through the narrow opening with me, or at the very least push me as I tried to exit. As I slid to the right, he marched out of the train and as he passed a woman waiting to board, he lowered his shoulder and shoulder checked her. The odd thing is that she was not even standing directly in the path of the doorway. The Woman looked back in the direction of the man with a scowl on her face, the Man was already moving down the staircase, and I just smiled to myself and thought, “Oh how joyous this Christmas season is.”