Thursday, July 12, 2018

I think I'm in love (for now)

The feeling will be gone by tomorrow, but for the moment, I'm basking in the warm glow that comes of finding myself across the desk from a cute woman who very obviously likes me. Let me enjoy my temporary glory: these things are rare for a guy like me. I know full well I'm not much to look at, but every once in a while there's an instant in time during which I lock eyes with a pretty lady and, as the French say, ça fait un déclic, i.e., something clicks.

I had waited until the last moment to register my change of address. You can do this either with the Seoul Immigration Office directly, or with the local district office (gucheong in Korean). To meet with someone at Immigration, it's now necessary to get online and make a reservation; slots fill up quickly, so this is no longer something you can do on the spur of the moment. Seeing that I wouldn't be able to hit Immigration for a couple weeks, and knowing that I needed to inform someone of my change of address within fourteen days (today marks the fourteenth day since my move on June 28), I elected to hit the Gangnam District Office today. Of course, before doing that, I needed to obtain a proof of residence: you can't just stroll into the district office and claim to have changed your address. So this morning, I went to the second floor of my apartment building, which is where the building's admin office is located. Those staffers proved to be of little help. "Not our responsibility," they said. "You need to go back to the realtor who arranged for you to move into your new place."

So I went down to the lobby floor to Tower Budongsan (Tower Real Estate). No one was there. Normally, there's this one lady I talk to; she was the one who first took me on a tour of the apartment, and she has also helped me sort out the whole rent-and-gas-bill problem. I waited in that office for the better part of an hour, and finally, someone walked in. I didn't know this lady, but I explained my situation. She made a few calls, and a male staffer from my company showed up. I re-explained my situation to him, and after he and the lady checked around for a bit, they concluded that there was a rental contract that could serve as proof of residence, but that they couldn't print it out right there, for some reason. The man told me he'd fax the thing to the HR department where I work (which made me wonder why he couldn't just hand the document over). I got to work, went to the second-floor HR department, and picked up the fax from the lady who was working there.

Next step: go to the district office. I grabbed a cab to Gangnam Gucheong and walked into the building, a hulking edifice serving as a temple to bureaucracy. I had been to this office several times before; it's a take-a-number system: go to the appropriate ticket dispenser (there were several such dispensers, each for a different section of the floor), grab a ticket, and wait for your number. The bell for my ticket sounded immediately, and I found myself sitting across the desk from a lovely, petite lady who initially spoke to me in English. She asked me if I was there to list a change of address, and when I said yes, she consulted with a colleague, then handed me two forms to fill out. "You fill this one out yourself; for this other form, you fill out the top part, and your employer has to fill out the middle. If you come back today, we can get this all done by today." I asked when the district office closed; she said six o'clock. Somewhere toward the end of our exchange, I started speaking in Korean, and the lady became all chirpy and much more cheerful, which made her look even cuter to me. Still, it was disappointing to know I'd need to fill out two dang forms, but I dutifully took the forms, left the building, and cabbed back to the office.

I filled out both forms to the best of my ability, then took the form that needed to be filled out by my company down to HR. The same lady at HR gamely filled out everything necessary, and within a few minutes, I was back out the door and on my way to the district office again. Upon arrival, I walked over to the ticket dispenser to take a number again, but as I knew was going to happen, my sweetheart saw me and called me directly over to her desk, almost as if she didn't want any of her coworkers to grab me. Nice to feel needed. Alas, she gave me yet another form to fill out, but I was under her spell at this point, so I didn't care. She accepted the filled-out forms I gave her, and then I gave her the third form plus a photocopy of my passport. She asked me to wait a bit, and within a couple minutes, she had processed the forms and written my updated address on my F-4 visa card. I didn't have to pay any fees, and as I thanked her and turned to leave, she said something to me that I know was nice, but I can't recall exactly what she said. There was a good bit of crackling eye contact between us, and as I walked away, I realized I lacked both the cleverness and the initiative to ask her out... although it would also have been necessary to check her hand for a wedding ring.

In terms of cuteness, my petite clerk reminded me a little bit of that Japanese lady named Rie ("ree-eigh") from those Buzzfeed Tasty food videos (see her here). Very similar smile. Alas, I won't see her again until I need to change my address once more, and who knows when that's going to happen? If she's not married now, she'll be married by then.


  1. Seriously? You are just going to walk away? Dude.

    Send her some flowers. Put your phone number on the card or something. Ca fait un déclic moments are too rare to let go to waste.

    Haha, look at me giving relationship advice. Here's a grain of salt to go with it.

    Still, do you really want to go through life wondering "what if...?"

  2. "I know full well I'm not much to look at," says Kevin.

    Liar. I've seen you, and you weigh well over 200 pounds! You are a lot to look at.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  3. He must be cruel, only to be kind. Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.



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