Cute Doctor is very friendly and chatty during my acupuncture appointment this afternoon. He also keeps asking me if the treatment that he’s busy doing is hurting me but, while all I want to do is cry from the pain, my ego won’t allow me to cry in front of him. While he does my neck and spine realignment at the end of my appointment, he suddenly leans forward and whispers, “Sarah, I have something for you.” Not really sure what to say to this, I ramble. When he finishes the realignment, he says, “Let’s call it a day” before asking me if he’s used this phrase correctly. He seems happy when I confirm that it is correct and scurries away to fetch his gift for me.
He returns with a gift bag containing a gift beautifully wrapped in pink paper with flowers on it, tells me that he hopes that it’s to my liking and to enjoy it. He then wishes me a good weekend before disappearing to his final patient of the day. Curiosity gets the better of me and, as soon as I’m out of the front door of the hospital, I open the gift, delighted to find three Korean books: a Garfield comic book (in English and Korean), a book of what M later tells me are Korean fables (with a 4 – 8 year age guide on the front) and my favourite book of all – The Little Prince – which is also in English and Korean.
The Little Prince has been one of my favourite books since I first started studying French as it was the first French book that I managed to read alone although we also covered it as a set work in one of my earlier French classes in high school. What surprises me even more is that Cute Doctor has also chosen the only comic book that I still actually read (
) and, although it’s a children’s book, fables which is something that I always enjoy reading. I’m surprised by how well he has chosen books for me and even more surprised by the gift entirely. Garfield
Part of me, however, is not surprised by the gift. While I give a gift for the sake of giving it or because I’ve found something that I think a particular person will enjoy, I’ve heard that the Korean custom is to always give a gift in return and of a similar value. In a way, by giving Cute Doctor the English phrase book two weeks ago, he was, in a way, obligated to return the gift – something I didn’t anticipate at the time. It also, unfortunately, suggests that he’s rather traditional.