The rains have cleared and the heat is gathering. Pretty much knew this was going to happen once I bought a 우산. Like most people, I’m a little jinxy –having the power to summon buses by lighting a cigarette– but, at least, I don’t carry my uncle’s curse. Whenever that man bought anything related to the weather, you could be sure that you would not see the weather required by that item required for months. Indeed, you’d see historic doses of its opposite. The man could summon a drought with an umbrella.
아내 and I did have to head into the Central District during a typhoon to get our visas renewed. It sounds a lot more dramatic than it was. It didn’t even seem to be the heaviest 비 or strongest 바람 of the week. A bit of a non-event. Which is pretty much how I want any visit to a government office to go. Eventful trips to government offices are overrated.
This is the third country’s government bureaucracy I’ve had to deal with and, so far, by far, the easiest. In Canada, you have to have every form in perfect shape. Forget to dot an i or cross a t and you’re sent right back to the beginning. The beginning does eventually shift, if you’re lucky and don’t just give up, but moving through it is more like moving in circles than going forward. You sort of have to take a deep breath and just give up before you even start. Your expectations will kill you. It will take forever and be done badly. Kafka served straight.
The states is a bit worse. For starters, the moment you seek to even enter a government office, you’re subjected to the whole humiliating security theater. Emptied pockets, shoes off, metal detectors. You know the drill by now. I’ve had to hide my vaporizer under a nearby mailbox because it wasn’t allowed inside. (A great way to prevent terrorism is to encourage people to hide blinking devices below mailboxes outside of government offices 잖아요.) And all that intrusive shit for what? Just make sure people are free enough to have guns, I guess.
And, Holy Shit, does America want forms. For a people afraid that socialism will produce paperwork, they sure love paperwork. That country lives in constant fear that any solution to a problem will produce the same problem they already suffer from. And they might even be right. America always seems more likely to produce Stalin than Scandinavia.
Then they do this weird shit where they just drop new requirements and forms on you. Like, Canada, you have to have your shit perfect but at least you know what that shit is. In the states? Bring some extra shit to the office because, all of a sudden, out of left-field, they might need it. All of a sudden it might be — “we’re going to need to see your Frank Thomas minor league baseball card. The original and two photcopies, please.” The shit is bonkers.
And anyone who thinks the private sector is better — Ralph’s still owes me money! They can’t or won’t just deposit in my account they now have to turn it over to the government, at which point, I have to put in a claim for it. And just try to get anyone from Kroger on the phone. There’s no one there. The numbers lead to nowhere.
Korea? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a government office. But show up with your stuff and they sort it out. Like, we lacked forms. We actually showed up at a government office without the right forms. My Canadian heart contracts at the very idea! The school director forgot to give these forms to us. It was just a matter of calling her, having her promise she would fax them, and we got approved. Now, she doesn’t hold up her end of the deal, that can change, but I just can’t imagine Canada or the US being like – we got a promise, the forms are on the way, you’re good, and your card should arrive in a week. So that works. I hope.
Anyway, switching from an 우산 to a fan while I wait.
Oh, and I managed to see a shooting star the other night. It was really very beautiful.