Thursday, January 16, 2020

when you see a problem, it becomes your problem

For whatever stupid reason,* the people managing our branch here in the Classia Building have decided that staffers don't need a staff room, so it's been locked up: we can never go in there again. The microwave inside that room, essential to those of us who reheat our food for lunch, has been carted off, and the staff room's fridge is next. The staff room will be converted into a storage room, which it sort-of was already. Our team spent some time today bitching about the loss of access to the microwave and the fridge. I knew there was little we could do about the fridge situation, but I resolved to buy a modest-sized microwave just for us.

I had several errands to do today: wire my monthly $3100 to my US bank account, get my bank app's electronic certificate renewed, and turn in my health-check paperwork—it finally arrived earlier this week—to our human-resources office. HR acted as if they had no idea I'd needed to get a health check, which makes me wonder why the fuck I did it. Was the health check a waste of time, effort, and money? Too late—it's done now. I told the HR staffer to please not open my records because I consider them to be private information. Whether she'll abide by my wishes is up to the gods.

Anyway, I digress. When I finished my errands, I swung by the No Brand store and bought the only type of microwave they had on sale. It cost W69,000, which is about typical for a microwave of that size (17-liter capacity, if you must know). I lugged the heavy box three hundred meters to my office, and voilà: we now have our own microwave, bitches!

*One of our more cynical coworkers put forth the theory that a random teacher from some poorly outfitted branch must have seen our staff room and complained that we had one. Our management's response was in the spirit of fairness: if other people can't have a staff room, then we can't, either. This sounds like the sort of stupidity that would happen in a Korean office: instead of carving out staff-room space for other branches, let's eliminate the staff room here! Not because that's the fair thing to do, but because that's the easy thing to do. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop: now that I've bought this microwave, I expect our main-office staffers to knock on our office door and say, "Hey, guys! Sorry about the loss of the staff room, but we bought you a new microwave!"—thereby invalidating my gesture. That would be classic Korean office politics. Half of my life on this nutty peninsula is spent being thwarted in some way or other. Going directly from Point A to Point B—going from having no microwave to enjoying a nice, new one without being bothered by the Powers That Be—is nearly impossible. Solutions that would seem to make the most logical sense often turn out to be the worst way to approach the problem. Anyway, I'll keep you posted. Let's see whether my prediction about the main office comes true.

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