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Friday, February 23, 2007

안녕히 가세요! Kim-Wrong-il

Goodbye Kim-Wrong-il. Really good getting to know you these last 5 months...wait- I don't know you, actually.

I've been living with a flatmate for the last 5 months, with which I have had about 10 sentences worth of dialogue. He just moved out tonight. Obviously, his name is not really Kim-Wrong-il, but names have been changed to protect the weird innocent.

Backing up 5 months, I had a spare bedroom to fill. The first week of advertisement brought a suitable candidate. Great, this will be easy, I thought. This person expressed an interest, I pulled my ad, an then they backed out. The second week was a poor batch. The third week had a promising candidate, but since my place was the first they'd seen, they couldn't commit. (They did call back weeks later...)

Pretty much the entire time I was getting gaggles of backpackers who were looking for short term accommodation for multiple people, despite the fact that my ad clearly stated 6-month minimum, one person only. The three Brazilian girls were tempting flatmates, but common sense bathroom math put a stop to that fantasy.

Rent on this place runs pretty high, so each week was costing me a good bit. After 3 weeks of party-packers turning up, Kim-Wrong-il (KWi) was a relief. He was an extremely nice visiting student from Korea who was studying Hotel Management. He didn't speak English very well at all, but you could tell he was a Nice Guy. He called 10 minutes after his visit and expressed a definitive interest. No suitable candidates arrived in the next few days, so I gave it to KWi.

It immediately became apparent that he doesn't speak English well at all. How he manages in Australian school I'll never know. Maybe if I spoke more Aussie he'd do better with me? But what made conversation so hard was his extreme shyness. Every bit of body language indicated that he wanted to get away from a conversation AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. And indeed, when you broke off conversation, he would almost literally run away. He would get very frustrated at trying to find an English word he was searching for, and would start smacking himself in the head pretty vigorously and stammering. This had the effect of making me want to cut the conversation short out of concern for his well being.

All this time, and in fact all 5 months, he almost never came out of his room. I tried to coax him out by indicating over and over that he could use the living room and television any time. No luck. I offered him food when I was cooking meals - always declined and fled the scene. I offered him a beer, and he accepted after a long pause looking scared to death (you could just see the calculations taking place in his head...is it rude to decline? is it rude to accept? is this a cultural thing? do I decline once and accept the second - or is it third - time that it is offered?). He accepted the beer, bowed a very deep thank you, turned on his heel and went into his room shutting the door.

After about a week, when he had figured out my general schedule, I ceased to even see him. He timed his trips to the bathroom and his comings and goings to avoid any contact whatsoever with me. If we did actually see each other, a "good morning/evening" and a bow was all I ever got.

He didn't cook at all, so there was no meeting in the kitchen. Eventually I noticed that he bought a full gross of ramen noodles, but I never saw him cooking - I would only get the whiff-o'ramen lingering in the kitchen as I made breakfast.

He kept extremely odd hours. I would get home after work, and his light would be out. Gone, I'd assume. Then, around midnight as I went to bed, I'd see that his light was now on...he'd been in there in the dark the whole time, and was now getting up. Some weekends I'd wake up late, make breakfast, read the paper, etc. all with no sign that he is home. Clean the house, run the vacuum, read a bit (obviously there's no surf), and then suddenly at two o'clock, his light comes on, and the first sounds of movement. Crap, thought he was gone. Sorry bout the vacuum bro, but I thought noon was a safe bet.

I considered that KWi might have a secret exciting life elsewhere, but he was ALWAYS home. Didn't leave.

I pay for internet access, and when he moved in I offered to let him use it for free. On occasion I'd get up in the middle of the night to stagger to the toilet, and would find him there in the living room at 4:30am on the computer, looking up at me like I just caught him eating my cookies. He would immediately unplug his laptop and run for his room. I'd say "please, internet ok, please use" but he would be in his room again.

He came to me once when his light bulb burned out. I considered telling him to go buy his own dang light bulb, but I had a few so I got one for him. I handed it to him, and he held it gingerly with a panicked look. After some of his stammering I deduced that he didn't know what to do with it. There's just gotta be a lightbulb joke that fits this scene...

So basically I've been living alone, but with free rent money and ramen air freshener. Not such a bad thing, as far as things go. I'd have preferred a friend, but this was far better than a jerk or thief.

Well its over now. He told me Wednesday by text message that he was leaving on Friday. I just returned his deposit - well most of it...minus the broken lamp (trying out his new bulb skills?) and that's that.

Alone for real this time - I wonder if I'll notice the difference?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

your house will be full soon enough...
c.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the mystery pills that relieved your delirium??? Surely that's got to be worth a lamp.

-a former roommate

12:15 PM  
Blogger Hunter Williams said...

Tuesday the PDX delegation arrives! Yah-hoo, can't wait.
I now have an extra bedroom for 'em. Sweet.

About the pills...if he had reminded me, I probably would have forgiven the lamp and paid him some money!

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure all room-mates seem boring compared to me... This fella was clearly in a league of his own.. gotta give him props though, I once bought 5 packs of Ramen and could only make it through 3 before I was out... I actually might still have the remaining two.

quick question, do you ever see any "Sydney FC" soccer club stuff there in your local shops?

-later bro-
Jeff V

8:08 AM  

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