Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Dear Korea, Yes, "plan" is a four letter word. But so are "work," "soju," and "smog"

and you don't seem to have any problem with them.

So why is the "plan" so antithetical to your nature..

I ask, because I have been working for a solid day now, on a translation for grant.

A grant that needs to be turned in by 9 am tomorrow (an awfully weird deadline - I suspect someone has made this up). And not just any grant, a big old nano-technology grant that will spend oodles of money (it is going to pay for foreign and Korean scholars to do big important things).

But, really, this deadline couldn't have been a surprise, could it? And even if it was, why would you have us translate a version of a document that was already being tossed out in favor of the next rev (which we would receive 12 hours later)? And to give it to us with 1.5 days to go and to hand the translation bit to a professor who is teaching three classes the day before the thing is due.

How did we end up here? With a dart and a printout of employees glued to the opposing wall?

It is weird, and every foreigner in Korea has a score of these kind of stories (Nota bene: This is probably partly related to the fact that so many foreigners in Korea are involved in education, and even back in the States, things tended to get done on a last minute and ad hoc basis. But still, Korea, in this area, truly is sparkling).

  • In the slightly over a year since I've been here, I've not once seen a timestable for any endeavor (yet the buses and trains meet their timestables with a vengeance, so go figure)
  • When it snows, all of Korea acts like they have never seen it before and have no idea how to deal with it
  • Required paperwork is routinely handed to you the day before you are to turn it in, if not on the day itself (like my uni finally getting me some proof they have hired me on the day before my Visa expired)
  • Random closures/cancellations are announced on the day that they happen (to be fair, this falls disproportionately on foreigners because many of these closures are tied to traditional activities - like class cancellations for MT)
  • Korean drivers (it always ends up with that, doesn't it?) and walkers seem to be making their navigational decisions based on some local Magic-8 ball for which I have provided the translations (that is, how Koreans interpret the answers of the magic ball):

  • As I see it, yes - Yes, additional speed is required
  • It is certain - That if I honk the old lady in the wheelchair will get out of my way
  • It is decidedly so - so veer, VEER, VEEEEEEEER!!
  • Most likely - I will randomly stop, and with great abruptness
  • Outlook good - so look out!
  • Signs point to yes - but since I don't read any signs, particularly traffic ones..
  • Without a doubt - it is perfectly legal to drive a motorcycle on the sidewalk
  • Yes - the crosswalk does confer double points for a kill
  • You may rely on it - that the car stopped in the right lane at the stoplight will sloooowly run it eventually
  • Reply hazy, try again - I am unable to see the lane stripes
  • Ask again later - right now I'm busy trying to drive while texting, smoking and watching a video
  • Better not tell you now - which direction I plan to turn
  • Cannot predict now - which way I will turn
  • Concentrate and ask again - while toss a lit cigarette out my window
  • Don't count on it - that there actually will be a sidewalk on many streets
  • My reply is no - I will not stop for the red-light
  • My sources say no - you may not park where I have put out three five-gallon water cans
  • Outlook not so good - I'd use the underground walkway, not the crosswalk
  • Very doubtful - you will live through this taxi ride
whoops.. just got the rest of the last minute file....

gotta run.... erratically!


Anonymous said...

I guess part of my comment from the last blog applies!

Anonymous said...

Did that Magic8 stuff come from the OAF's alien version of the DMV handbook?