log: day derailed


90,443 -1,552,851: 313(-1): 39-7,202(0.46%): 86.2 %–58 %

Few mundane malfunctions can fuck up your day as quick as a plumbing problem. Lights go out, you can always turn on a lamp. Device breaks. Probably some shitty workaround. But plumbing? You can’t really fuck around with water and it’s hard to do without it. There’s a lot of issues you should deal with quickly but plumbing feels like you have to deal with it quickly.

Yesterday, finished my shower and turned off the faucet. That was the plan anyway. The faucet had other ideas. Water shot up through the faucet. Now, in a Korean bathroom, that’s not such a big deal. The bathrooms here are basically one big shower with a toilet and sink. But it’s still pretty annoying. Water out of place is worrying. It doesn’t even need to be much. Watching a single stream of misplaced water flowing down a wrong wall? Well . . .

I tried holding the faucet down, that sort of thing, finally turned the water off, and wondered if I could get away with just living like that and, if so, for how long. I was into a nice pair of pants before, sighing, saying fuck it, giving up on my day’s appointment, and changing into my dickies. Just had to deal with the fucking thing. Meant buying and installing a new faucet.

When you speak the dominant language as badly as I do, every single task, no matter how banal is a bit of an adventure. I assumed he size of faucets would probably be standardized but I don’t really like to run around on chores like this with a bunch of assumptions. So I took measurements and pictures, and headed out the door to my local hardware shop.

No luck there. After leaving, I think I understood what happened. The old lady working the counter, I think, was saying that she had bad eyes and couldn’t see my picture. At the time, what I understood was that she needed to see the thing and couldn’t help me. Or that they didn’t have faucets. Either way, it was a problem I couldn’t quite figure out.

In the textbooks, things are so simple. A person has a question and someone answers the question. In real life, you ask about a sink faucet and you’re suddenly discussing eyes.

Now, me thinking she needed to see the faucet? That’s a weird conclusion. It just doesn’t make sense. Why would she need to see the faucet? But, when I’m trying to speak Korean, I’m not only much less articulate and much more uncomprehending, but also a lot dumber. Any mental energy I might have for anything else –like questioning a ridiculous conclusion– is spent on trying to to communicate. It feels like trying to do two math problems at the same time — sometimes, when it comes to getting change or whatever, it can feel exactly like that.

Back on the street, I needed to get my bearings. Headed to the barber shop and asked her, where to buy a faucet. She told me at the hardware store. I told them they didn’t have them and she recommended e-mart. I thanked her and was on my way.

E-mart is a bit of a walk. Also, it’s a packed multistory store, and well, at the best of pandemic times, feels dodgy. With some mad feral variant on the loose? I’d just as soon give it a pass. But, back at home, water was where water was not supposed to be. So no choice.

But I tried another little hardware story on the way there –one I’ve used a couple of times before (right next door to my tailor)– and they had what I was looking for. No muss, no fuss.

Already had the monkey wrench and the WD-40. I love both things.

At home, after rolling around and moaning on the bathroom floor for a while, I managed to get the old faucet out. Although this was already my most productive episodes of rolling around and moaning on a bathroom floor, it still went pretty badly. One of the tubes connecting the faucet to the water supply was completely — what’s the term for it? It’s not stripped? Rusted on? The metal grown together? Not amendable to unscrewing?

At any rate, I required a new tube. So, not wanting to go back down and up the mountain, I went back to the first store. Old fellow there now. And I brought the tube with me. He put it in a vice, had a go at it with a monkey wrench. No luck. Like, that bolt was STUCK.

And I was trying to tell him not to worry about it. I’m trying to say this how I would say it in English – like direct translating. And what I would say in English is “That’s fine. I don’t need that.” But, I think, when I say that in Korean, saying “that’s fine” means “that’s fine.” So I should probably just say “don’t do that” and I even know how but I’m not sure it’s polite.

I did eventually get understood, get the new tube, and fixed the whole thing up. It worked fine, though I after putting it all together, I decided to replace the other tube too –because, like, just seemed right– and then had to clean the bathroom. It’s odd how much mess a simple project can produce. And, when you do it in your boots, how muddy and wet you can get. But I just can’t bring myself to work barefoot or in sandals. So, yeah. Cleaning.

So that was a day derailed. But, seems like just about everything I try to do right now get derailed. Big, small, whatever. It just doesn’t work out. I’m jinxy. In a bit of a slump.

Bright side is, these derailments are kind of cancelling each other out. Like, my day was derailed by plumbing but one of my research groups is cancelled for the week because, well, everyone is down with COVID, and the other project is also temporarily derailed. If things were actually going right, losing a day would have hurt more than it did and would have made for some catching up. But, as is, it didn’t even matter. Actually just kept me busy.

Like, don’t get me wrong, in the past week I’ve had electrics blow out, meetings get cancelled, an assortment of other things not work, go wrong, or end up twisted, and, yeah it’s been annoying. But, for whatever reason, this seems to be happening to everyone right now and that has, strangely, made it the best time for this shit to happen to me. I suppose movement and resistance is relative to one’s environment. Even fuck-ups can have flow.

Sometimes, when you’re up Shit Creek, it’s best to go with the current.

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