So I was originally supposed to work today (Monday, March 3), which was the first day of school. But because there would be nothing for me to do, and it would be overall rather silly for me to go to work on that final day, the principal let me stay home. So Friday (February 28) was my final day at work. My co-teachers took me out to a farewell lunch at a Korean pizza place called Mr. Pizza and then decided to go to my filthy, still-in-the-process-of-cleaning apartment because they had to get a view of things for the school to take or leave. You see, normally, the tenant would just pack their stuff and be on his or her way when the time came. However, our school is going from 2 to 1 foreign teacher this year... and that person is replacing Naomi rather than me. This means my apartment is going to just a regular Korean person, so the school has to confiscate everything that belongs to them and clean up everything else for the regular tenant. I'll get back to this in a minute. That afternoon, I said my goodbyes to two of my three co-teachers (I'd be seeing the third on Monday again), and we took a nice couple pictures.
|Left to Right: SangMyeong, me, Yun-June, Sun-Young|
|Left to Right: Naomi, me, Yun-June, Sun-Young|
But then Monday came. We had gotten in contact with the internet people to come today to disconnect my internet and have me pay the final bill. We'd also be canceling the gas and my phone and all that, as well. Around 1-ish, the gas guy came. I signed and paid for it and the guy left after just a few minutes. But I was really waiting for the internet guy, who was supposed to show up around 2. But eventually, about 2:15, it was my co-teacher SangMyeong and some guys from the school showed up (and she complimented my cleaning job and said it looked like a totally different place than just a couple days ago--she was actually stunned). And this is when things got crazy.
They weren't just switching my bed into Naomi's room (mine's bigger) and taking the microwave and few little knick-knacks that the school owned. Oh no. They were turning the whole place over. Anything that wasn't nailed down or attached to the wall was removed. Everything I was just gonna leave behind, like all the stuff that was left behind for me? Tossed. And more. Bedsheets, mats, pillows, covers, hangers, my old coat, the old converter boxes... all of it was thrown away. They took the desks, tables, chairs, sofa, TV, drying racks (both clothes and dishes), and everything in the kitchen cupboards. We gave a handful of stuff to Naomi, but everything else was thrown out. By the end, it was a completely empty room. Not a single bit of anything was left anywhere in the entire apartment. And it was filthy again from the dust under the big furniture, so I had to sweep that up... but I had to borrow from the maintenance crew because they'd taken my broom, too. This whole process took at least a couple hours. And during this whole time, the internet guy still had not come. In fact, they had also accidentally taken the internet box, so SangMyeong had to run after them to get it back.
The highlight of all of this was something that was a long-time coming. Some of you might know my dislike of a grouchy old man who works in the garage area downstairs, the same area where I have to take my recyclables. Early on when I first got to Korea, every time I'd go to take stuff down, he's either hover over me or yell at me. Or both. I really didn't like him. It came to the point I didn't take stuff down for quite a while, in which I began accumulating quite a bit of stuff that needed to be taken down in chunks. And I decided to do this on Sunday nights when he wouldn't be there to bother me (this practice led to my being locked out of my apartment last month, if you recall, when I forgot my passcode while taking some stuff down). Anyway, during one of our ventures down to discard numerous empty bottles, mostly old laundry detergent bottles and cleaning supplies the tenant before me had left, we had another run-in with this man. SangMyeong (SM from this point on) was with me, and he proceeds to yell at her about her separating of items. Ohhh boy. You don't mess with SM. I've seen her mad in a classroom. So she fusses back at him. Oh, it was a glorious moment, a moment that made dealing with that man all year worth it. We talked about him again in the elevator, and she said he was just a mean, rude old man who yells at everyone and isn't like most Korean men. She felt my pain.
Anyway, we eventually went to go wait in my empty apartment for the internet guy to show up. She had called, and they were sending someone over. After they were late again, she calls, but the guy was just down the hallway. So he comes in, takes the box, and starts to leave. Uh... something's wrong with this picture. I have to pay my cancellation fee still. But apparently there's some kind of mixup and, long story short, SM has to wait and get a bank account number from the company to email to me so I can make my final payment online probably tomorrow.
So now it was time to cancel my phone. Apparently in Korea, they really don't want you to do this. You can sign up for a contract in any given store, but you can only cancel a contract in a few specific ones (some stores are owned by the company and most are owned by individual managers... you can only cancel with one of the former). So we had to try and locate one of these, which fortunately was actually almost right next to the store we activated it at. I had to pay a huge cancellation fee, though, because they only had like a 3-year contract, and I didn't even finish 1 (I got the phone like a month in). So... yeah. Boo on that.
SM was pretty tired after a supposedly long day on her end, so she asked me if I would be OK with just taking the train home instead of her driving me back. Regardless of whether or not she was actually tired or making an excuse, I knew this was gonna happen, so I wasn't thrown off by this whatsoever. I said my final goodbye and took the train home... to begin the second part of what turned out to be a much longer day that it really needed to be.
So by the time I get home, it's coming up on 5 PM. I have a backpack and 3 suitcases (two big ones and a little one), as well as the walking stick I got at Mt. Fuji. I'm able to put the stick in a suitcase pocket--sticking up and out, but at least in a way I don't have to carry it--and place the small bag on the top of the biggest bag. I would say in one hand I have roughly 70 pounds, and in the other I have around 50. And on my back, I'd wager maybe 30. Altogether, I'm lugging somewhere close to 150 pounds--over half my own body weight.
Let the trek begin.
The walk from my apartment to the train station usually takes me roughly 10 minutes. I'm pretty sure today took me closer to 20, if not slightly more. The bags were heavy. My arms and hands were already exhausted. The small bag kept falling off the big bag. The wheels on the medium bag didn't work right. I had to keep figuring out how to best work these things. And on top of all that, I was getting countless stares from basically every Korean person I passed.
I did eventually make it to the station and got in the elevator to take me up. And after a bit of confusion, I used another elevator to take me down onto the platform just in time for the train that would take me to Seoul Station, where I got a hotel to spend the next day and a half. It's like 50 degrees, and I'm sweating from this workout. Thankfully, the train isn't really packed. I have to stand for a bit, but then I'm able to snag a seat at the end so I can keep my bags to the side and hold on to them.
After about 45 minutes or so, the train reaches Seoul Station and--of course--the elevator is on the complete opposite side of what turned out to be a WAY too long platform. It felt like it took me 10 minutes just to get to the other side. And even when I did... I saw no elevator. I had to backtrack slightly until I saw where I'd passed it. I make it up, and a guy helps me through the special exit since I had all the bags. I find yet another elevator to take me up to the street level... and discover, yet again, I'm on the complete opposite side of the lot from where the taxis are. So I carry these loads all the way over to try and find a taxi to take me to the hotel. I get in one of the black deluxe taxis (which I'm pretty sure I read not to get into when I first came to Korea, as they'll rip you off on price... but at this point, I truly did not care). We get the bags into the car and, you guessed it... he has no idea where my hotel is. So after a bit of deliberating (and even having to write it out in Hangeul so he could read it... I'll admit... I was a bit proud of that one), he finally gets a general idea and takes me there. By the time I get there and get to my room, it's just about 7 PM.
The hotel is a pretty nice place. And it turns out, I got a free upgrade to a suite because they ran out of the regular rooms. Which I'm all fine with considering the price I ended up having to pay for a regular. Let's just say it was more a price deserving of a suite. But I was just happy to be on the final leg of this whole thing. And I believe there's an airport bus across the street, so I don't have to bother about taking the train come Wednesday. Oh, and I also finally got to watch the Oscars... and I did pretty well! 21 correct predictions out of 24. And Ellen was a great host.
And... that's all I have to say on that.