The thing I do when I need to regain composure is read. Reading refracts all kinds of lives to illuminate the shared experiences of humanity; it’s the medicine I consume when I need to be reminded that the game of life is long, and the ups and downs too infinite to tally. Of course reading is also a luxury. The interaction is powered by choice – me deciding where I will burrow myself (the secluded couch), what I need to gnaw on (witty prose) – and so the escape generally occurs within my ideal parameters of comfort.
In contrast are the typically more jarring encounters we have with real people in our daily lives. Humans are not like books; they will inflict themselves on you with no warning in public space. I mean the screaming toddler at the park who grabs your leg, assuming you are his mom, as well as the eccentric old man on the subway, who insists on prying into your personal life.
These interactions are only magnified for those working in the service sector. As Eunji discovers in “The Spring,” a steady stream of customers is also a never-ending intrusion of characters to soothe, to entertain, to bear witness to. We see her drive a pair of young children and their stuffed rabbits, happy to have cheerful passengers on board; we also see her grimacing (and then laughing in denial) at an affectionate couple in her backseat.
More often than not Eunji is a third wheel glimpsing into people’s intimacies through the enclosed space of her taxi. Like the protagonists in novels, these customers can be a joy to observe, though they can also bring to surface impressions and emotions from one’s own past. As Eunji realizes:
Why is that couple laughing brightly?
Why do they make me so sad?
Everyone enjoys spring but me.
The grey wash over the MV are these moods, tinged with longing for the companionship so many of her passengers have. Then the scene suddenly cuts to Eunji with a boy at an amusement park – a boy now gone, save for his letter Eunji hangs from the taxi mirror, dangling over the dashboard as a memento of the past.
Seeing couples again and again clearly chafes at her knowledge of what she has lost. The universal pang of loneliness returns, but the funny thing is the vulnerability this sadness comes with: a kind of sensitivity that also allows for empathy, and genuine happiness for people who have managed to find a significant other. Eunji watches her passengers wistfully, but she also smiles and laughs with them through the journey.
The last customer who enters Eunji’s taxi is a faceless mystery. Is he the boy Eunji has been waiting for, or just another passenger to be ferried? Her slight laugh explains little, but the identity of the person is besides the point. The future holds more customers still, more joys and trials to be gleaned from her encounters with others.
(YouTube, Lyrics via Kpoply, Images via Plan A Entertainment.)
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