from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Random #43: Nomanakya Naranai, Part I

with 3 comments

My recent blogging inactivity this time is not entirely due to laziness or sudden inspiration in writing the book. I just got back from Tokyo and spent the weeks leading up to the trip trying to brush up my Japanese in the off chance that I’d get to use it. The trip was eventful in the way that most things in my life are, pathetic and alcoholic.

     I open my eyes and the sun is faintly shining through the small window in my semi-basement studio. What the fuck? Oh, shit. I look at the clock. 7:00 am. Fuck me. I jump out of bed, turn on the lights, and stand in the middle of my room, my brain addled with a mixture of sleep and panic. What to do? What to do? Calm the fuck down. My bag is packed and my clothes are laid out on the floor. Can I make it? Numbers and time schedules run through my head. Fuck, I don’t know. Maybe. I’ve got to try. Do I have time to shower? Fuck. Should I drive or take a cab? Fuck. I decide on a cab, hoping the driver will drive like they do whenever I catch one completely drunk and have to fight the sick from coming back up. Shit. Shit. Shit.
     I run down the hill and out to the road, farther and farther because the few cabs that pass by are occupied or are driven by assholes who ignore the disheveled guy trying to hail a cab while coughing and breathing heavily. I need to stop smoking. Shit. Shit. Shit. I run out to the main road and jump into the first cab I see.
     “Incheon Airport. Step on it.” He hesitates and I can tell he wants to make up some excuse about a shift change or the cab not being able to leave the city so I add, “I’ll pay extra if you get there quickly.” He pulls away from the curb and starts down the road.
     “Which way do you want me to go?”
     Fuck, I don’t know. “Whichever way is faster. I need to catch a plane at 8:40.”
     It’s my luck that I’ve got the slowest, most law-abiding taxi driver in Korea. Shit. Shit. Shit. My eyes are affixed on the small clock on the dash. We don’t make it on the 88 until a little before 7:50. Shit. Maybe I should call the airline. I reach for my phone. It’s not in my usual pocket. It’s not in my other pocket. It’s not in my pants or in my bag. Fuck. Shit.
     8:00. Shit. Shit. Shit.
     The airport is in sight. I look at the meter. 43,000. I reach in my wallet. 46,000. I take it out and get ready to run.
     “Where do you want me to stop?”
     “Here’s fine,” I say. I throw the money in the front and run into the terminal.
     Inside the terminal, I look up at the check-in counter display. Counter H? Fuck. Just my luck that it’s at the complete opposite end of the terminal. Shit. Shit. Shit. I take off running, my bag bouncing vigorously against my back. I’m a halfback again, finding and barging through the holes in the crowd of travelers with their carrier bags and all the fucking time in the world.
     When I make it to the counter, one lady is pulling the cordon closed and the lady at the counter is organizing her papers. I run up to the counter and take out my passport.
     “I’m sorry, sir. You’re too late. We stopped ticketing at 8:00.”
     I turn around and look at the clock. 8:06. She’s got to be fucking kidding me. She isn’t. She explains that ticketing was supposed to stop at 7:40 and they already kept the ticket counter open twenty more minutes. There’s nothing she can do.
     Dejected, I walk out the door and take out my cigarettes. Shit. Shit. Shit. This is what I get for choosing sleep over beer.

     “Just drink until it’s time to head to the airport,” Tae had suggested. In order to make it to the airport on time, I had to leave at five. I was having a beer at the bar but decided it’d be better to get some sleep before my flight. “No, I want to be in top condition for my partying in Tokyo tomorrow,” I explained as I handed him my credit card. Why I chose not to drink more is a mystery. I’m usually the one to suggest drinking before a flight and the amount of sleep I’ve had the night before has relatively little bearing on my condition. Nevertheless, I went home, set my alarm, and got into bed. Oversleeping wasn’t a concern because I rarely oversleep and I’m such a light sleeper a text message can wake me up even when I’m completely plastered. I did wake up at five but apparently only long enough to turn off the alarm.

     As I take out another cigarette, I agonize over what to do. Should I go home and try again next month or should I go back in and look for another ticket? I should go home. I don’t have much money left after being raped at the bank currency exchange.  I’ll have to buy another ticket because the ticket had been a promotion with a no change and no refund clause. I don’t have my phone and I’m tired as hell. Ah, fuck it. I’ve made it this far, might as well go a little farther. I put out my cigarette, walk back into the terminal, and buy a ticket for the next flight to Japan.


Written by Young

November 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Hope you were able to get at least a partial refund for your ticket… although I realize that may be a vain hope.

    As for exchange rape — uh, exchange rate: yeah, I’ve noticed the won has been relatively stable against the dollar, whereas the yen has strengthened against the dollar, which means the won/yen relationship has soured.

    At the very least, we all got a good story out of this. I declare myself entertained.

    Kevin Kim

    November 10, 2011 at 12:11 am

  2. Oh, wait… this was Part One, and you said that you DID get to Tokyo. Will be interested to hear about days filled with partying, pachinko, and putanas with okonomiyaki-smeared breastuses.

    Kevin Kim

    November 10, 2011 at 12:18 am

    • Ha. Exchange rape. I like that. The expression, not the rape. As if Japan wasn’t expensive enough already.

      I haven’t played pachinko because I don’t like loud places and I’m not very good at gambling. I will deal with putanas in an upcoming entry, but sadly to say, there weren’t any okonomiyaki-smeared breastuses. Maybe next time.


      November 10, 2011 at 10:17 am

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