In Korea, TV is very important. Even for the locals, TV and Internet are requirements, not luxuries. Last time we didn’t pack anywhere near enough DVDs so this time we went wild. We left about 70 behind and brought over 250 with us. Our contract stipulated a TV, but when we arrived, there wasn’t one here. Neither was there a washer, a refrigerator or a fan, all of which were listed in our contracts. However, we did have a toaster and a cable box. You have to have priorities I guess. We sat down with Claire the very next day and she said that the property manager, who we later learned is Steve, the foreign teacher liaison who barely speaks any English, screwed up. He was supposed to have the place cleaned and “stocked” before we arrived. And we were promised that he would get to it by the end of the week. We also asked that he arrange telephone and Internet service for us because we can’t really do it ourselves. That too was supposed to be taken care of by the end of the week.
Well, the fridge and washer appeared the next day. Actually, Steve had to get Dennis’ keys from him so he could get into the apartment to drop them off. The TV also arrived that day, but as we had no cable and no DVD player for it, it was a great big paperweight. Without a phone we couldn’t call Lee Ahn to arrange to pick our DVD players and movies up. It was also a bottom of the line, bottom of the barrel Korean crapola TV with only mono hook ups. So we started agitating about the phone while shopping for a decent TV. Personally, Internet was more important to me, but Dennis wanted the phone and I figured we had to pick our battles.
The cheapest TV with stereo hook ups was $260 at Emart (Korean Kmart). We decided to bite the bullet and buy the bloody thing reasoning that it was going to run us just over $20 a month and we might be able to recoup part of our investment by selling it at the end of the year. That was on Thursday.
Saturday morning we went out to Lee Ahn’s to get our DVD players and DVDs. It was a nice visit. He doesn’t look very good though, but he’s very happy about the fact that Jung Chul is going down hill fast. We learned another of the reasons on our visit. Apparently the new teachers are an Englishman and his Canadian-Korean wife. Now, in the Korean worldview for English teachers Americans are the best, Canadians are next, Brits and Irish are third ranks and gyopos (mixed blood Koreans) are barely acceptable. So Jung Chul went from the very best they could have to nearly the very worst. Al I have to say is ha-ha.
Saturday afternoon we hung around the apartment waiting for Steve to turn up with the phone, which he had promised to have installed that day. And we waited. And we waited. Finally bored with waiting and out of other stuff to do, we started fiddling with the TV.
That was when we found out it was broken. Great big paperweight indeed.
We decided to call Claire because A) Steve was now about 2 hours late and B) the TV didn’t work and we weren’t sure we weren’t just missing something. In order to call Claire we had to ask the landlady if we could use her phone. Our landlords should be in a sitcom. They’re like your wacky aunt and uncle. We asked to use their phone and Mrs Kim said sure. Dennis called and explained the situation to which Claire answered, “Can we take care of this Monday?” Dennis tried to convince her that we would really like to know what the heck was going on since we had just burned up most of a Saturday fooling around with this stuff ultimately asking her, “Do you care?”
I was horrified. Claire snapped that of course she cared. The landlady, who didn’t entirely understand the conversation, wanted to fix things and offered to take a look at the TV herself. Thus begins the comedy portion of the afternoon. Mrs Kim fiddles and fiddles with the TV and calls her husband who says he’s on his way. Then she calls Claire to tell her that she thinks they might be able to get the TV working. She fiddles some more and calls her husband again. Mr Kim turns up a few minutes later and fiddles and fiddles and calls Claire. He doesn’t think the TV will work, does she have any ideas? She has no ideas because she doesn’t know what Steve had done as far as cable. So he fiddles and fiddles some more and pronounces the TV dead. And calls Claire to tell her this. All this happened in about an hour. Dennis and I were sitting on the couch the whole time snickering to each other about how Claire was certainly getting an earful about this. She would not budge about calling Steve for some reason and the Kims offered to loan us a TV for the weekend.
After the Kims left we decided to go buy the TV we had been looking at. We caught a cab to Emart and discovered that the price had gone up to $300. Dennis balked at spending that much and we came home TV-less.
The debacle on Sunday involved Costco not accepting credit cards and us not having enough money on us for our groceries. Unrelated, but it certainly added to our stress level.
Monday, Steve went to Dennis saying that he was going to get the phone hooked up and drop off a different TV (note how I’m not using the word ‘new’) so he needed the keys to the apartment. We came home Monday night and the phone Steve had left had this totally bizarre jack on it that wouldn’t have fit in any outlet anywhere in the building and the TV, another a bottom of the line, bottom of the barrel Korean crapola model, had scratches on the screen. Dennis refuses to watch it. We were both pretty p.o.ed by this. We’re pretty used to the Korean philosophy of cut twice measure not at all, but this sort of took the cake. All Steve had to do was look around the room and know that the phone in his hand wasn’t going to work.
Dennis lit into Claire Tuesday morning. I was supposed to be there too, but I missed Dennis is the hall and by the time I had time to talk to her, the whole thing was resolved. Dennis did actually use the words ‘incompetent boob’ to refer to Steve. Magically, Tuesday evening Steve was waiting for us, in our apartment (having borrowed Dennis’ keys again, I think he just wants to rifle through our stuff) with the phone hooked up and the Internet pulled up on my laptop. For good measure, he got cable installed too. He also gave us another adapter for the electric outlets. The TV is still scratched, but I can watch around it, mostly because I’m determined and really, freakin’ tired.
If this was an isolated thing, it would be funnier, but since everything is like this, it makes you want to bang your head against something hard. Like the mattress. Or the couch. My ultimate question is, why does Steve keep going to Dennis to ask for keys when Dennis is always the one yelling at him or about him? Don’t you think he’d want to try me to avoid being blasted every time he needed keys? He asks me for paperwork only for some reason. It’s like he thinks we have some sort of division of labor and I don’t do keys.