I was shopping at Home Plus, looking for an air mattress so I could stay the night at a friend's place in Seoul. I got what I wanted and was headed down to grab a bite before heading back home. Now, in Home Plus there are three floors and in order to go between floors you ride an escalator-ramp. Genius Korean engineers designed these escalators to keep you from crushing somebody or being crushed by your shopping cart as you go up or down. The cart locks into the grooved floor and you sit back and wait till you get to the end.
Grace told me that during the summer, very often escalators will shut down because people's sandals get trapped in the works and clog the whole thing up. I noted it, but thought nothing more on it.
Coming down with my air mattress, feeling especially efficacious due to my flawless ability to hand a cashier my wares and hand her more money than I know the items cost, I saw a small commotion in front of me at the bottom of the escalator-ramp. A girl seemed to trip slightly, no big deal. Except she didn't move away after recovering. Instead she starts talking and pointing at the base of the ramp, and there was her tiny sandal, wedged in the machine where it goes under the floor.
I moved aside to avoid the sandal, but the kid pushing a cart in front of me was completely unaware. His cart ran into the sandal and bunched it up into an effective rubber break. The cart stopped completely, but the escalator kept on moving under it. The first the kid knew of the whole deal was the cart trying to cram itself inside his chest and his feet still trying to move forward under it all. Reacting quickly and using my super human American strength, I picked up the front of the cart so it could move forward, freeing the kid, and then picked up the back end to get it off the escalator.
I did one good deed, it felt like the right time to cap it off with another. I reached down and attempted to wrench the sandal out of the works. While I focused, an old man coming down the escalator just barely noticed me, and started to backpedal in order to keep from falling over me. So here I am, surrounded by Koreans on an escalator covered in shoppers that isn't about to stop, trying to pull a sandal out that is only going to cause more problems. And like Lennie in Of Mice and Men, instead of doing the smart thing and letting go, I just pulled harder on the sandal instead of getting out of the older man's way. I tore the whole thing in half. Looked at the girl who it belonged to, told her in English, stupidly, that her sandal was stuck, and got the hell out of there.