08 July 2008

The Blessed Intercession of Holy Women

You're not going to believe this one. Maybe you will. I'm personally starting to believe that there is something seriously wrong with me. I have always been a bit ditsy, and I do come from a place where you don't lock your doors (at least I didn't), but this is just beyond what even I am typically capable. First the camera, now...

This afternoon was going to be hectic enough. I had finally amassed all of the documents necessary for my alien registration card (doctor, employer, customs, visa, two pictures, etc) and Jenny was going to run me down to the subway so I could get clear down to the port where the immigration office is before it closed at six. This alien immigration card is kind of the holy grail of all documents for ex-pats: it is required for internet, power, cell phone, bank account, and pretty much everything else. I had talked to my friend Brian and he said he couldn't get any internet at home till his came through which as of last week it hadn't and he came over three weeks before me. I kind of lucked out because my apartment building is owned by the school director and I told them I would die without it and they hooked me up on their wad. But I digress....

I grabbed my bike helmet and told Jenny I would meet her downstairs and went down to lock it up in my scooter so I would have it when I got back to be safe on the ride home and when I got downstairs my scooter was gone. As in stolen. I shouldn't say stolen because technically I did kind of donate it to humanity as I kind of left the keys in it on accident, but it is bye-bye. Forever.

After a few moments of quiet reflection I decided to push on with the alien registration project. I told Jenny the bike was gone and how it happened and said "Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid" over and over. And then I realized that my apartment key was on that key chain. I told Jenny and she gave me a weary look I have become accustomed to from employers and she made some frantic phone calls while driving like mad to the station.

Just so you know, I am smiling while I write all of this. I'll tell you why in a minute.

I got down to the station at about 5:30 and ran down to the line I needed and went to slap my wallet on the turnstile (it reads your card through the wallet, kind of neat) and nothing happened. This caused a major backup to my posterior so I turned around and swam back upstream and tore my wallet apart. No card. (This is inexplicable. Am I in the bloody Bermuda triangle here or something?) I ran back to the card dispenser and finally figured out how to get it to speak English and got all the way to the end of the process when a beautiful female voice said in English with a Korean accent: "exact change please." I replied with a voice in English with quite a different accent and strode off to find a change machine. After it was all sorted out I made the 5:42. Yeonsangdong is about 20 stops from Jungangdong, where I was to get off. I sweated it the whole way down there and climbed out of the subway at 5:57. So now my fat ass is jogging, which it doesn't like to do under the best of conditions, but with my pack slapping up and down on my now soaked shirt and thus my 3rd degree sunburnt back and shoulders, every step was agony. Jenny had given me a slip of paper with the directions written on it in Korean but I still ended up getting pointed to the wrong place and had to jog back about 300 meters the way I came (don't laugh, that is a lot for someone with my blood pressure) and by this point I was pretty steamed.

I got into the office (after going to the wrong floor) at 6:06. I got another withering look from the lady packing her bag but I think that the look I gave her in return must have been genuinely pathetic because she motioned me over and began putting me through what must have been the most rapid alien registration in the history of aliens. They took all me records, including my passport (at least I can't lose that for a while), and a goodly bit of me money and ushered me kindly and firmly out of the door.

When I got back to Yeonsandong station I called Jenny and she told me that the landlord had put a new set of keys in my mailbox and that she would see me tomorrow.

Now why is all of this so funny? Why am I in such a good mood? Well, this might seem strange, but I am actually relieved. That damn scooter was nothing but trouble. It took me places I didn't need to go and allowed me to go there way too fast. I kept thinking as I was riding around that it was simply a matter of time before I got splatted. It wouldn't even necessarily have been my fault. The drivers here are insane. Add in my inexperience, general disorientation, bravado, and occasional self-induced handicaps it was a disaster waiting to happen. It also gave off an evil aura of unused potential. It messed up my Zen, you might say, by always presenting the opposite of the here and now. I have grown used to using public transport and self-propelling myself here and there and this takes some planning. It eliminates energy and resource wasting jaunts here and there for stupid stuff you don't need. It is a wholly different mindset and I had forgotten how much I liked it. It is hard to explain what I mean. I am just more present without the constant potential to be instantly absent. Now, I am out a bit of money, but I think that the experience of driving here and surviving to tell about it was well worth it. Besides, the convenience and efficiency of the public transportation system here makes driving almost not even worth it. I was still looking at going to try and get a license, which was far from a sure thing, and this would have involved insurance, which is not cheap, and, to reiterate: I am relieved that the thing is gone.

There is another reason I am laughing. You all know that my feelings about the Christian religion run a bit to the sceptical side. That said, I have seen this happen before firsthand. Ever since I let it be known that I had the scooter, my mother has been sending not so veiled messages that she was worried about it. And when my mother, a born-again saint of God, worries about something, she starts praying about it. And she gets all of her friends at the bible study to praying too. And these people are serious prayers. My mom prays pretty much every waking moment. And if there is a God in heaven and these women got latched onto this scooter (and I am just speculating that they did), then he heard very little else for the last two weeks and he probably sent someone by to look at the keys hanging out of that thing out of pure self-preservation.

So, would anyone like to buy a slightly used bike helmet? Cheap?


Ashley said...
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