Thu, 07 Jan 2010 01:29:00 +0000

So I am at home with my dog, and an old Asian woman knocks on my door. When she sees I am Asian, her eyes light up and she start yelling things in Chinese. I open my mouth and English comes out. She says, "Bu hao, bu hao." I only know one thing in Chinese, and it is that "bu hao" means "not good."

I think maybe there's a fire, because she is freaking out, so I grab my dog and start to leave. But she signals "no" with her hand and she smiles and says "thank you." So I figure there's no fire.

But she keeps trying. She points at her feet and says, "Bakery, bakery." I assume she's telling me that her feet hurt because she's been working at a bakery. I offer her a seat on my couch, but she keeps saying, "Bakery, bakery," and then she holds up four fingers. I am confused.

Then she holds up four fingers and gives me her keys. Ah, I get it! She wants help getting to the fourth floor! So I lead her upstairs, making sure she doesn't fall. We get to the fourth floor, she is out of breathe and she says, "Chinese, chinese." Then she points to the door. "Chinese, chinese." I understand: Her door has Chinese on it.

Unfortunately, none of these doors have Chinese on it.

I hold up four fingers and ask, "Fourth floor?" She nods yes. I hold up three fingers and ask, "Third floor?" She nods yes. I hold up two fingers and ask, "Second floor?" She nods yes. Together, we go up and down the stairs, checking each floor for Chinese on the door. None of them have Chinese on the door.

At this point, I'm convinced she has a memory disorder and has stumbled into the wrong building. But that's not so hard to do because there are three other buildings like mine. So I take her to the two others. I try to go in the first sister building. She pulls me away. I go in the second and she starts yelling things in Chinese and smiling. She gives me her keys and she points at the door. I try them on the door. Her keys do not work. However, she tells me, "Bakery, bakery, Mr. Wang, Mr. Wang."

Perhaps she has come to see a bakery owner named Mr. Wang. So I check the door buzzer for a Mr. Wang -- bingo!

I buzz Mr. Wang. No answer. I buzz him again and again. No answer.

I know where she wants to go now: Mr. Wang's apartment on the second floor of building one.

But the woman keeps pointing to her feet and saying, "Bakery, bakery." I don't get it. This time, though, I repeat her word: "Bakery?" She nods no. "Baskereet," she says. I shrug my shoulders. She tries again. "Basekert."

Ah! Base... base...ment! Basement! "Basement?" I asked her, pointing to the ground. She nods yes. Yesssss.

I understand now. She needs to get to this building, but use the basement of my building to get there. We go back to my building. On the way, she points to herself and says, "Chinese." I point to myself and say, "Korean." She says, "Hangook," which means Korea in Korean, and she gives a thumbs up.

I smile, but we still have to go down stairs and up stairs. And by now, her legs are shaking because they're so tired. We get to the basement, and on the way back up she stumbles so I end up pushing her all the way up two flights of stairs.

We get to the second floor and she sees the door with Chinese on it. She starts clapping. I clap, too.

She gives me her keys and I open her door. The door swings open. She claps again, yelling, "Thank you, how are you! Thank you, how are you!" I clap uncontrollably. We did it!

I tell her to go inside but she faces me and says, "Wife?" I nod no, and I try to tell her I am too young. She points at me and gives a thumbs up and says, "Wife." Then with her hands, she draws the shape of my face -- which is very round -- around her own face and she gives another thumbs up. I think she's saying I should get a pretty wife. I try to tell her I have a pretty girlfriend, but I doubt she got the message.

Before I leave, I ask her what her name is and she says, "Mrs. Wang." I tell her I am Chang.

She hugs me and says, "Thank you, how are you. Thank you, how are you." It was a fun day.