Our medical results came back this week – the school sent us off during one of our “free” periods (in which we sit around in the office anyway) to walk up the hill to the hospital and retrieve them. After some haggling with the Korean-speaking desk nurses we managed to get them and returned to the school. “So, can we apply for our alien cards now?” I asked Sarah. (“So that I can then get a bank account, get my airfare reimbursed and get the fuck out of this wretched place?”)
After some vague half-answers and umming and erring (all of which is typical to Koreans) I ascertained that it would take maybe three hours to apply for my alien card – what with transit time and waiting in line and all that. So Sarah suggested that we go during the upcoming holiday break (starting on Friday the 24th).
This is the break I’m planning to flee during. Which will require my passport. Which I am supposed to turn over to the immigration office for however long it takes to get an alien registration card.
Tony chose this exact moment to stop being a pushy, assertive New Yorker, character traits I had found greatly useful in a colleague, as I myself am a doormat/pushover/yes-man when it comes to employers. He was totally cool with applying for it during the summer break. I tried to push my case a little more, but it was hard to do so, since I couldn’t really fault their reasoning. We operate on two different frames of mind. They are of the opinion that I will be here until June 2010; I am not. I can’t exactly say, “well, I’d really prefer for you to set me up a bank account NOW, so I can skip the country immediately rather than spend several more weeks trapped in a classroom with those evil little goblins.”
Let’s establish a timeframe here:
Friday, July 24: First day of summer break, first day I can conceivably apply for my ARC
Friday, July 31: (estimate) Day I will receive my ARC
Monday, August 2: School resumes. Immediately talk about establishing a bank account, school no longer has any excuses.
Saturday, August 8: First payday. If I’ve stuck around until the 2nd, I may as well hold out one week longer and pick up my first paycheck, which should be between $1000 and $2000, depending on how many advances I “need” between now and then.
But! Banks aren’t open on Saturday (or are they, in Korea?), so I may have to wait until Monday before the money shows up in my account. Because I live in the school building, I also need to flee on a weekend, when there’s less chance of people catching me in the act. So I’d have to serve another whole week here.
But! The next Saturday, August 15, is Korean Independence Day. I’m not sure how that will affect public transit and airlines.
The fact that I’m even looking at August 15 – a full month from now – as a viable departure date is quite upsetting.
I’m going to press them about my airfare this week as much as I can. Maybe they’ll pay it to me in cash. My reasoning is that I need it to live off, otherwise I’ll have to ask for paycheck advances every week.
The way they duck and weave every time I bring it up is typical Korean inscrutability that almost seems to be about ripping me off, but probably isn’t. It really isn’t unreasonable to wait for a bank account to transfer that much money ($967 AUD). It really isn’t unexpected for Sarah to be brushing me off, because she’s demonstrated several times now that she has no idea what she’s supposed to be doing.
But I hear enough horror stories about hagwons (and Wonderland in particular) to be wary. I guess I’ll have to be firm throughout the week: GIVE ME MY FUCKING MONEY.
It’s really just a race at this point to see which wins out: my avaricious nature, or my desperate desire to get the fuck out of here.