Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Friday, March 21, 2014

Another Week in Paradise!

Monday morning, 5:30 AM: waeg's phone rings. Glancing at the number, waeg sees it's from overseas so he quickly answers. It's his dad:

Waeg, it's your mother. She had an aneurysm and just got out of a 6 hour surgery. The docs say she isn't out of the woods yet, but she is responding fairly well. Good thing I was home at the time, or we'd be having a different conversation.

Waeg promises to call again later. Once at work he looks up how much time he could get to go back in case of the worst, and sees he can get a week. Hopefully he won't need to go right away. After reading up on aneurysms, he knows his mom is lucky to be alive; but then she always has been strong.

After lunch he collects his mail. There is a notice from the police, saying he owes over a million Won in old fines dating back to 2003. Waeg is perplexed, as he has always paid his speeding and parking tickets in a timely manner. After 4 calls and three hours, it is determined there was a computer glitch, and while waeg won't have to pay the interest on the fines, he still owes over a million Won. Waeg muses how he has contributed to inflate statistics on waeg crime, since these unpaid fines would have added to the numbers.

On Tuesday Waeg cruises into work early. He notices that the electrical in the van is acting up; the same thing happened a few months back just before the generator cut out on him. He checks his schedule for the week and sees he has a window Wednesday afternoon to bring the car in, and plans accordingly. He receives a call from the public relations department: a client is upset that they had not received a response from waeg to an urgent request. It turns out that over the weekend the email program had been updated, and all his email had bounced. After contacting the IT department and sorting out the problem, waeg sees a flood of 300 emails suddenly appear in his inbox. He hunkers in and starts through the lot. He is briefly interrupted by a call from his wife, but for some reason she is unable to hear him when he speaks and she hangs up in exasperation. Waeg has a brain fart and plugs in the headphones to call her back. Sure enough, the speaker on his phone is busted, and he briefly wonders when he'll have the time to take it in to get fixed.  His wife tells him that the youngest's teacher wants to have a meeting to discuss the youngest's use of vulgar language towards a boy that had started a fight. Waeg briefly smiles, but agrees to meet Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, waeg skips out after lunch to bring the van in to the shop. The mechanic tells him there is no way to know for sure where the electrical problem is until it gives out, that the van is old and he should just buy a new one, and he should come back later. Waeg explains he is quite sure it is the generator, that he does not have time to come back later, so they promise to check it out as well as replacing the cracked windscreen. He goes back in a couple of hours and picks it up: the mechanic is nowhere to be seen, and the bill is only for the windscreen. He has no time to wait, as he has to also get the van inspected. Everything seems fine during the inspection, so waeg goes home; but he knows the electrical problem is still there, and hopes it doesn't give out at a bad time. That night he calls home: his mom hasn't been able to breathe on her own yet, but the prognosis is overall positive.

On Thursday he heads into work as the snow starts falling in thick heavy globs. He has planned to go camping on the weekend with a coworkers family. He decides he'll go even if the snow continues. The day passes fairly uneventfully, during which he spent some time calculating the cost per month of a new van; his feelings are conflicted, as the idea of having a new car is nice, but thinking of paying it off over 3 or 4 years causes a knot in his stomach.  As he gets ready to leave work the van won't start, as the electrical has indeed given out. He calls his insurance provider to send a wrecker to give him a boost. After an hour it shows up. At this point waeg might just make the meeting with the youngest's teacher if he hustles. The driver he knows well, as he has come out to help waeg more than a few times. He gets a boost and sees that the power is still not working properly, but luckily there is a 24 hour car shop near the expressway toll gate. Once there, the mechanic tells him he needs a new battery, which he quickly installs. However, when he checks the power, he says Oops. . .my bad. It isn't the battery, seems it might be a faulty generator, but you should be able to get into town OK. That'll be 130000 Won please. For a moment, waeg considers entering full on asshole mode and demanding his functioning old battery be reinstalled, but he has no time. The power levels seem OK for now. On the way into town, the power is obviously slowly draining as the lights dim and the heater din changes in frequency. Just as he pulls into a parking spot at his favorite car shop, the engine cuts out. No one is at the shop at this hour, so he locks it up and rushes to the main road; he can still make the tail end of the meeting with the teacher if he can quickly find a taxi. Of course, there are none, and after 20 minutes waeg texts his wife to explain and goes home. His wife's computer is screwed, so he spends an hour cleaning out a host of trojans and malware. As he turns on his computer, he sees some of the same problems.  It seems the girls had been visiting some game site and installing all kinds of crap on both computers. He finishes around one and goes to bed.

On Friday he gets a ride into work with a coworker. The car won't be finished until late afternoon, and will cost a little over 300 000 Won to fix.  With the new windscreen and battery, waeg is down 700 this week on the car.  He had planned to leave at 5:30 to go camping, but that will have to be postponed until tomorrow.  At around nine he is informed that he needs to completely reschedule and replan a major project, as crucial information from manufacturing had been incorrect, an error on their part, but waeg knows this will require a good 2-3 hours of frantic application. 

Just before lunch he takes a breather and goes for a short walk outside.  As he wanders somewhat aimlessly, he muses on when the fantastic life of milk and honey he was promised for coming to Korea will kick in.  He knows he's simply being cynical, as his story is really no different from any other average person's, and that entertaining the idea too much will only lead to rage and invective; his slice of paradise comes from knowing things he never would have known if he hadn't become waeg, gaining a perspective on the human condition that would have remained unknown if he had stayed in his little town.  Still, for a moment the thought creeps in that sometimes ignorance is bliss, especially if you can regularly buy decent beer, cheese, and bacon.  He laughs, tosses it aside, and heads back to the office.  There are more TPS reports to fill in after all, and fresh coffee to drink.


Benj said...

Those calls from home are something an expat dreads.

Keep on chugging waeg.

Tico Torres said...

Nice post. We've all been there. "New car smell" seems like the best cure for the Ides of March right now.

Lamenting bacon, beer and cheese as commodities worth living back home for.... one recalls a very significant other that is missing from your list that would make that rambling walk around town all the more enjoyable. ~sigh

Unknown said...

Cars haven't had generators since the early '60s-they have alternators now.

F5Waeg said...

Tico Torres: nudge nudge wink wink

Unknown: my bad. Been in Korea so long I just call it what the Koreans do

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