Day 2 – rise and shine, it’s firedrill time - Mikeroecosm

Day 2 – rise and shine, it’s firedrill time

Samsung TV?
December 31st, 2006
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i wake up naturally today, my first saturday here in korea. no alarm, no stress in the morning. right? except i have no clue where the hell i am. when it dawns on me that i wasn’t dreaming when i envisioned that sea of korean faces in the airport, i laugh to myself and open the shades. sure enough – i can’t understand a damn thing written on the signs out there. i’m in korea.

korean marketing at its best. here we have black crunch, with its lovable ‘black girl’ and ‘black boy’ characters.

trying to get my bearings, i check the time. there’s a dispute between my two new timepieces. one clock, on my house phone, says it’s 11:02am. my radio clock in the kitchen says 12:12pm. i know i’m supposed to be into work at 2:30pm to observe my first classes.

let’s back up here. last night, in the bumbling way a new child plays with toys without reading the instructions, i started playing with my clock radio. like all things i see here, it is labeled in symbols i don’t understand. being a fearless and curious primate, i begin poking at it to explore the unknown. so, i press all the buttons, one by one. one, expectedly, turns on the radio. another chimes in a voice, “good morning.” wow, nice touch! they’ve somehow recorded an alarm for me that says “good morning” in english – in a soft, pleasing female korean voice. this will be much more pleasant to wake up to than beeping or buzzing (which i refuse to ever, ever wake up to).

i hit the next button. same message. sweet. i hit the third button and get nothing. i hold the button down a little longer to see if the clock starts flashing so i can set the time or alarm. no. i start hitting sequences of buttons to find out how to set my new sugar-sweet alarm. i’m getting nothing, so after a few futile attempts, i move on to my bananas. they’ve probably set and dummy-proofed the alarm for me.

fast forward to present. aha, somehow not only did i disable the alarm, i’ve probably set the time wrong on the clock radio. the phone probably has the right time, because at my old work (kdr), the phones were synced to a central server. that’s probably where my phone is getting the time. but i can’t be certain.

due to the time-zone change, i’ve made no note of what time it was (when i got here), or what time it’s supposed to be. but you know who always knows that? the weather channel. and just my luck, i happen to be standing right next to a television, practically begging me to turn it on for the information i so crave. i grab the remote, point it at the tv and yell out, “show me the money!” as i hit the power button. blankness. well, i thought the only green, big button would mean power. i look at the remote. yep, all hangul. so i try the time-tested method of hitting all the buttons, then many in sequence, then all at once. the remote is useless – and here i am realizing this while standing one foot in front of the tv. so like any normal human being, i walk away in search of batteries for the remote.

kidding, i reached down and hit the biggest button on the tv. foiled again. i hit all buttons, all combinations. i peek around to the sides and the back of the tv to see if i’m missing something here in backwards-nothing-works world. nope.

then i see my shiny answer. it’s right there on the wall in front of me – a second tv. dammit, if the first don’t work, i’ve got a backup! this one’s sleek looking too, all mounted on the wall. check this sucker out:

tv, right? power button there in red? couldn’t be any clearer if it was actually written in english. so i confidently press my red button and prepare to school myself on the time and weather in seoul… and the silence in my apartment was shattered with a blaring, squealing alarm, one louder than the one i was so thankful i had avoided earlier. i hit the red button again, panicked, trying to shut it off like i had never turned it on. well, apparently on and off are two different buttons, because that thing keeps screaming. i look all around me for something to indicate what the hell has just gone so wrong in my apartment. i dash to the phone and call shawn. after two rings, i hear a voice behind me in korean. it’s coming out of the wall.

“sorry, sorry,” i shout, waiting for shawn to pick up and tell me how to diffuse this nuclear disaster i’ve surely just incited. more korean from my wall. no shawn. “uh, no korean. hangul no,” i offer. still the buzzing. more korean. “no, nothing! sorry!” i tell no one in particular, over the bleeping pitch of the alarm.

after 30 seconds of confusion, it stops. i put down the ringing receiver and walk over to the obviously non-tv. all i wanted was the time. why all the hassle? i’ve no power transformer yet, so i can’t plug in my laptop. but as i look down at the outlet, i notice a cord dangling. i secure the cord into the socket and follow it to the tv. i hit the big button on the tv again – and with a click, i have korean television. which, not to my surprise, does not include any weather channels. i still don’t have the time, but peace has been restored and i now know which appliances in my apartment are not tv’s.

i also learned about my clock radio. as i went through the sequence of buttons, the third one that gave me no response was actually a ‘record’ button. so as i hit the buttons, it recorded over my nice “good morning” message. i learned later that this was probably a message from jin ju to warren. before it was mine, this was warren’s place of residence. i like the idea that i can seek out advice in learning about my new abode, if needed. but nothing can replace the sheer fun of just finding out by trial and error.

that’s why i’m here.

One Comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! That is one of the funnies things I have ever read! Keep up with these stories, and Hollywood’s going to make a movie out of your year over there. Hope you made it to your class OK! -Allison

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