Take a good look at that face. Don’t be fooled by that smile, and for Christ’s sake don’t look into his eyes. He is neither god nor man. He has no name. He is known only as “The Principal”. He can achieve the unthinkable: he put the internet into my apartment.
So I’ve been in Korea about two months now, right? After a series of hilarious, then frustrating, then maddening hiccups with the Office of Education (you know who you are, Charlie Brown…) I finally had the necessary documentation to get internet installed. Huzzah! Talking to my family and friends! Keeping up on celebrity gossip! All the “Mad Men” I could watch! All these very important things and more!
Only of course it wasn’t that easy.
The short version: so much Stupid happened. A great deal of this can be attributed to me and this douche language barrier and ineffective grunting and pointing and frowning. At least 4 people attempted to help me plug into whatever internet there was in my building and all of them failed and all I could do was accept the apologetic gifts of fruit from my landlady as I looked over their defeated shoulders, desperately hoping Google would rise out of the murky internet to my starving eyes. There seemed to be some agreement that my American computer was at fault, and I took offense to this attitude on principle and scowled everyone out of my apartment. General consternation. I shook my fists at God – why are you doing this to me?! All I want is to access my Itunes Store and buy the new Kings of Leon album and stream NPR and find out if my McSweeney’s newsletter arrived yet! I graduated from a liberal arts college! Gah!
Days passed with no improvement and I went about my business. One totally normal morning I got word that The Principal required me in his office. Til then, I’d really had no contact with him. I saw him from a distance at volleyball games, strolling the grounds of the school, etc. So of course I was instantly afraid – oh shit, can you see any of my tattoos? Are my boobs sticking out inappropriately? Did I get caught on Facebook at school? (Goddammit, if I had internet at my home I wouldn’t HAVE to be on Facebook at school..or have maybe streamed those Daily Show scenes that one Friday afternoon…grumble grumble…)
At the appointed time, my coteacher/translator and I entered the holiest of holies, The Principal’s office. I mean, this fool is legit. He keeps a fountain pen with a screw-top cap in his shirt pocket and frequently produces it to sign documents presented to him by quivering faculty members. (I’ve seen this happen. It’s extremely impressive.) This is what went down:
THE PRINCIPAL: <settling into armchair, steepling fingers> So, Erin, how are you finding Korea?
me: <nervous giggle>
THE PRINCIPAL: And the apartment? Is it to your liking?
me: ENTHUSIASTIC PRAISE OF APARTMENT <nervous giggle; vigorous nod>
THE PRINCIPAL: Any problems? Do you know how to use that thing on your wall that makes the water or floor hot depending on which buttons you push?
me: <hesitation> well, there is this problem with the internet…..
THE PRINCIPAL: ….what? <confers with vice principal, whose face suddenly drains of blood>
Then there was a whole scene that took place in Korean and I just sat there carefully tweaking my expression according to people’s tones. All I knew for certain is that The Principal was barely containing himself from pounding his fist in rage on the table. This had not been my intention, nor the reaction I expected. I was told to report back to the office at 1 pm. I did. There was an IT guy taking tea with The Principal. The Principal dismissed us to my apartment to sort out the problem. It took half an hour. HALF AN HOUR. What had taken, until then, almost 2 weeks. I skipped back to school, sought out The Principal and finally managed to snap my American I-bow-to-no-one posture! into a sweet 90 degree angle. Respect, sir. Like the badass that he is, he humbly nodded his head in acknowledgment of my gratitude, told me that if I had any other problems I should come to him immediately, and then strolled off down the hall with his hands folded behind his back. Ladies and gentlemen, The Principal is so fucking cool.
Not this cool. But close.