Yesterday the faculty of my school was allowed to leave after lunch. It was a gorgeous spring afternoon. The sun was shining, the flowers are in full, vibrant bloom, and the air was warm. Being extremely tired because I don’t know how to go to bed on time, I decided that when I got home I would take a nap with my windows thrown open and the sun beaming in. And after that maybe I would go biking, or at least take a walk. But not so! Korea struck without warning...
Korea ’s first blow came in the seemingly benevolent form of a drop of water-falling on my face as I entered my apartment. Instinctively looking up I discovered water dripping from my ceiling. However, being a little too immune to Korea , I sopped up the small puddle at my feet and went about my business- doing the laundry and settling into my apartment. The racket of some kind of loud motorized machine that sounded like a pressure washer called to my attention that maybe dropping water from the ceiling is not something that one should ignore.
I went upstairs and informed my landlord and his wife. They are just like the stereotypical wealthy old couple one might find in Southern California or Miami. Skin that’s just a tad too tight for their age, spiffy, younger looking clothing, and for the Mrs., too much makeup and red lipstick. The landlord took a look at the water, which was coming through the light fixture, and disappeared.
The racket upstairs suddenly ceased and Landlord returned with a maintenance man. Back and forth they argued and discussed, examining the water.
“Well I didn’t do it!”
“Then where’d it come from?”
“You got me..”
“Is it coming from here…or here?”
“Let’s find out.”
Meanwhile, as the two men argued I continued my vacuuming. I had chores to do and I wanted to get them done before I took my nap. Besides, I couldn’t understand anything and they weren’t talking to me.
Maintenance Man grabbed my kitchen chair and stood on it wielding a blade. First he cut away the wallpaper on the ceiling (yeah- one of those things that no longer seems strange to me) and threw it on the floor. Then he cut a big square in the plaster. Dust and water fell onto his facing, and subsequently, onto my floor. The vacuum still in hand, I sighed in dismay yet also had to stifle the giggle that came as Maintenance Man spit and sputtered the plaster out of his mouth and rubbed his eyes. I’m not sure what he was expecting when he stuck his face immediately below the hole he was making in my ceiling.
After determining that this was not the source of the water he moved the chair to the entrance way, and began cutting yet another hole in my ceiling, throwing plaster everywhere. He stood directly under the light fixture, where the water had been coming from in the first place, and banged on the ceiling with his fist. CRASH!
I looked up to see Maintenance Man wincing and holding his head in pain. The light fixture had fallen from the ceiling and the only thing between it and the floor was his head. In addition to plaster and water, shards of glass now covered my floor. Maintenance Man’s temple began to ooze blood so I handed him some toilet paper- Korea’s all-use paper product.
After 30 more minutes of intense discussion and investigation Maintenance Man and Landlord seemed about finished wreaking havoc in my apartment. Water, plaster, glass, and bloody tissues were everywhere.
“Pee, pee! Do you have a pee?” The landlord asked me, waving his hand.
Pee is the word for blood. I was totally confused, but, seeing as how there was a bleeding man standing in my apartment, this was not totally out of context.
“Uhhh, boom? Do you have a boom?”
Apparently the word for broom is bee, which sounds deceivingly like the word for blood. Hey, a new vocab word.
Landlord’s Wife dropped off a bee and dustpan. I started to clean up the mess, then thinking better of it, returned to hanging my laundry on the clothes rack. “Why should I clean this up? I didn’t do it.” My stubbornness paid off. Landlord’s Wife returned shortly with Cleaning Lady who dejectedly looked at her new project. On the outside I smiled sympathetically and said thank you. On the inside I thought "That's what you get for always scowling at me and never responding to my cheerful hellos."
Despite the chaos she had it cleaned up in a few quick minutes and was gone. Peace finally returned to my apartment I finished tidying my house. By that time my entire beautiful spring afternoon had been squandered and it was time for me to leave for an appointment. Finding my first pair of shoes soaked, I put on another. I snatched my bag and sunglasses and phone off my bed. As I walked out the door I laid down some neatly folded toilet paper and placed a sponge directly under the spot where the ceiling continued to drip…..drip…..drip....
You can see the water line in the corner. But this was a good chance to show you my map of Korea I made.