Well, we did end up having Thursday off. Wednesday was a kind of ho-hum day. I accidentally hurt Paul (“Jaws”) while play fighting. Believe me, there have been times when the thought of intentionally hurting him has crossed my mind, but this was not one of them. It was while I was sitting with the kids in the gym while they waited for their bus numbers to be called. Foreign teachers don’t normally do that, but I actually found some peace in spending time with the kids in a more casual setting, rather than trying to get them to sit down in class. One of the windows had broken in the gym. Well, not the window itself but the hinge that controlled how wide it could open. One of the suits that has been sitting at the front desk computers all week working on accounting was ordered to climb up and fix the window. The window had swung out very wide, and when he reached out to get it, he lost his balance. I grabbed his arm before he fell two stories onto the concrete.
My last class of the day I begged to be good because it was just one of those days. Of course, they weren’t. I got really angry at them. At one point, I even had two kids go chest-to-chest as if they were going to fight. That class can be hell. The thing is that the two kids who were wanting to scrap would be considered the biggest loser geeks in America. But anyway…
I skipped out quickly after work to make it home in time for the cable guy. On the way, I got some cheeseburgers from BBQ, “It’s Min.” The cheeseburgers were so-so. The patties were deep fried in oil, and they came with the same sauce that they put on that yummy chicken. It tastes better on the chicken.
I got home, made some fries and a salad, sat down and ate my dinner. No cable guy. I tracked down Soo, who was my contact with the cable company. She called me back all angry, saying that they weren’t coming. They didn’t have the time. This got me angry too. It was bad enough that they were insisting on charging me a full 12 months upfront, even though I only needed cable for 10 months. Now they were jerking me around with hooking it up. I asked if there was something like a Commerce Department to report them to. She said there was, but it wouldn’t do anything. The politicians in South Korea are in the pockets of the Chaebol, the nine big conglomerates. They rule South Korea like mini dictatorships. And I guess that if it’s company policy to charge someone two extra months of cable that they will not use, company policy trumps any laws against theft, which is really what that is.
Oh, I’m getting political…
So anyway, it’s election day. Lots of people got off of work, but no one I knew voted. I had read that politicians have been so neglectful of the people they represent that your average Korean is more apathetic about politics than your American Gen X-er. It’s really sad because the economy needs some entity to stand up to the monopolistic crooks that charge people 12 months for 10 months of cable.
I shouldn’t make a big deal of it, since it’s just $10 I’m upset about. But then again, they shouldn’t make a big deal of it because it’s just $10.
My old boss, Thom Hartmann, had recently published an article that sounds similar to what’s going on in South Korea.
Anyway, I had Thursday off. No cable. No TV to watch. And I had just run out of books to read. So I continued conquering the world on my Civilization III game. Actually, I was asked out by two women in the morning. One was Yu Jeong wanting me to go to Seoul with her. The other was Joan, the Canadian we met at the bank, asking me to join her and her friend on an excursion to the Yellow Sea. I told them both that I had plans.
SJ came over around one o’clock. She took me to Home Plus so I could do some major grocery shopping for stuff that I can’t get at my local market. Got stuff like mustard (that’s not sweetened with honey), salsa, and ground pork. I also got trash cans for the kitchen. Before it had been tough trying to throw trash away in freestanding plastic bags. I’m not sure if I’ve explained the trash system here. Rather than paying a trash company a subscription fee or paying it through taxes, you buy specially marked trash bags at the grocery store, and the trash company that produces the bags picks them up when you lay them out on the curb.
We ate lunch at the food court. Since it was a pseudo-holiday, the store was packed. I had some really good nigiri sushi, fish roe hand rolls, and rich udong noodle soup from the Japanese stand. SJ had her favorite Korean cold noodles. We shared our meals, and I could see why Korean cold noodles are so popular in the summer time. She had two kinds. The noodles themselves are thinner than ramen noodles. One was in some type of meat broth. The other was in a spicy red pepper sauce.
While at Home Plus, we shopped for Julia’s baby present. We found what we wanted, but SJ said we could find a better deal somewhere else. I also ran into Ellen Teacher at the store buying sushi at the sushi case. It was so much fun going to Home Plus with a Korean who could explain stuff to me. It’s so much more fun that way. There’s so much I want to buy there because it’s like an exotic culinary theme park. And everyone has free samples at every aisle. Home Plus also hires these young women to advertise products in skimpy outfits, wearing these odd leggings that make them look like Clydesdale horses.
We headed to my place, where we were going to watch movies on the computer and later make dinner. I was so happy to have trash cans. My little hole-in-the-wall is starting to become a home. I tried to make SJ her first Bloody Mary, but something tastes off about it, and it wasn’t because I substituted soju for vodka. I found out that the tomato juice itself is sweeter than the tomato juice in the States. Why do things here have to be so frikkin’ sweet?
It’s starting to get a little warm here, so I thought I’d plug in and try out my air conditioner. Get this, it can only be controlled by a wireless remote! I’m out of luck if the batteries run out on the controller. But when I turn on the air conditioner, this vent comes down like some sci-fi air-conditioning robot.
While I was playing with the air conditioner, SJ made me my new favorite soup, this spicy pepper and beef soup that’s tangy and makes you warm all over. It’s like soul food but in Seoul. We enjoyed the soup and watched “Undercover Brother” on the computer. After dinner, she wanted to hang out for drinks in Handaeap, which is really my neighborhood but closer to the subway station. She wanted to drive her car there, but after she started trying to back out, I knew that she was in no sober condition to drive.
So I did it.
Yeah, it was very risky, considering I’m not licensed to drive here. But I drove the car to Handaeap. And I drove like a Korean. Freaked her out. Maybe I should consider getting a license here.
We went to Dionys, a hof (pub) that I’ve been wanting to check out for a while. Like most all places, it’s a mom-and-pop operation, even though Dionys is a franchise. They had a nice wurst and fries plate for anju. I’d definitely to back there. I watched the election returns on the TV. Even though I had no idea about what the races were about, I still found it interesting. There were lots of races that were split with only a double-digit difference between them among five-digit vote counts.
SJ arranged for something that I thought was an ingenious idea. Rather than get a taxi to drive her home, she got someone to drive her home in her own car. As for me, I just walked back home. I may consider getting a drivers license, but I still prefer to not have a car.