Some of the best conversations and Korean lessons I've had in Korea, half in Korean half in English, have been with cab drivers. Usually I'm running late for work, I'm slightly frazzled, and really happy to just be able to sit and look out the window when I'm in a hurry. I get in and blurt out a hello and where I want to go. From there I always seem to have the same basic exchange--where I'm from, what I do, then we review some basic cab driver English with the Korean translations. We work on pronunciation and then (time permitting) we move into either current events or sports (which I never know anything about). We always end up laughing, I get to work with a smile, and bid the driver goodbye. They totally set me in the right mood. I'm starting to really get the whole routine down and I actually feel motivated to learn more Korean just for these fun brief encounters.
Once on the way to Hongdae for a night on the town the cab driver called up his friend on the phone and had me talk to him for a bit. I was feeling friendly that evening and even starting waving to other taxi drivers when we were stopped at red lights. The cabby had some salsa music on so I started dancing too. It was the party cab. Besides we were in the cab for an hour or so due to traffic so we had to amuse ourselves somehow.
Today my cab driver was a real professional. He had a medal for 20 years of service with no accidents. He told me it was because he was smarter than all the other drivers, like a driving genius. He was a nice guy, funny too, but he couldn't get the "f" sound in phone. He just wasn't willing to let go of the idea that it doesn't sound like the way it's spelled or the Konglish version of cell phone (handuh-pone). "PONE? POHN? POOONUH..."
Ok, that's it. I'm starting an English academy for cab drivers (adorable ones only, slimy ones need not apply).