Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Sum of Not-So-Little-Things

Here there be sharks
After finishing the MA, I quickly scored a job in middle management of a midsize company in the town of my birth. 

Upper middle management baby!  No more entry level peon!

It was a sweet job that seemed almost tailor made for me, with a very nice pay package.

The fact that several distant relatives had worked there over the span of 80 years had nothing to do with it.

What I didn't know was that I was being parachuted into a shark pit.

Three other people had wanted the job, most prominently an Iranian who had worked at the place for over twenty years.  When I was offered the spot, he and the two others went out of their way to fuck with me hard.

With this going on, I quickly realized that two senior managers were embezzeling a ridiculous amount of money.  It was scandalous what they were getting away with, which was part of the reason everyone wanted my spot since it gave access to all that easy cash.

For the record, I never grabbed any; I merely collected evidence to cover my own ass since I thought I was being set up as fall guy.  As soon as I had proof that tons of cash was disappearing I approached a couple board members to let them know.

I was fired.

What I didn't realize was that everyone was getting a piece of the pie.  They expected me to just play ball, seeing as I knew everyone or knew someone who was related to 2/3 of the work force.

Deciding that the corporate world wasn't for me, I applied and was accepted to a doctoral program in a nearby city.

While all this was going on, my grandfather was getting on with dying.  He could barely walk, but still insisted on trying to get himself to the store to buy his groceries.  A stubborn bastard who built his own house and supported a family of six by the sweat of his brow, he still tried to get out and cut the grass.

He was like the old guys you see picking up cardboard on the streets of a Korean city: not all of them have to do it to make money, they just do it because they want to work until they can't.  My grandmother was also in fairly bad shape and he was trying to take care of both of them.

I started dropping in everyday once I got back to town, seeing as I lived about fifteen minutes away.  I'd take out the trash and deal with whatever other errands needed to be done, play cards.  He took a turn for the worse at about the same time that all this was going down.

I deferred my acceptance to the PHD to spend more time with them, and over the space of a couple of months watched them both die.

The funerals were a couple of weeks apart.   After, I decided to go walkabout. . .


Anonymous said...

My grandparents have all died since I came to Korea. One of the things I regret most about running away from the USA is missing the weddings and funerals of the people who always took good care of me.

F5Waeg said...

I've made a couple of trips back for weddings, but a funeral isn't exactly something that is planned months ahead of time. I've missed the funerals for the other set of grandparents and a couple of weddings.

Part of the long term expat package.

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