[Editor’s Intro: Please welcome back our returning contributor Mike S.]
By Mike S.
I got fired over the weekend, and then I got cupcakes!.
Preface: My boyfriend Leighton and I recently moved to Seoul from Bangkok to start our new jobs. Being a Kiwi, Leighton’s paperwork came through in a month and he’s started working. But as an American, I’m still waiting for my paperwork to be processed and have been house-wifing while I await a visa (for more on that, read The Next Thing).
One Saturday, Leighton and I were having a lazy pajama day when:
Suddenly, a knock at the door.
Who could it be now…? (doo doo doooo do da- Men at Work reference)
Was it the crazy landlady who lived in the basement flat- an environ that befits her trollish nature? Was it a door-to-door salesperson peddling the healing powers of Jesus? (Wayyyy more common in Korea than America, FYI.)
Leighton opened the door to find a nicely presented white girl in business clothes, holding a professional bag in one hand and a slightly less professional lime green umbrella in the other. I heard her ask for me by my full name. This seemed odd considering we’d just moved
I paddled to the door in my jammies but found I was greeted with a half-grimace smile. I was about to tell her Jesus doesn’t live here when she read my name from a bit of paper in her hand printed with my new company’s logo at the top.
“Hi, Michael, my name is (let’s call her Meghan).”
She introduced herself as “representing” our company.
OK, I thought, Maybe she’s here to sort out my visa situation. Finally!
“Hi, Meghan. Nice to meet you. Would you like to come in?”
I invited her to sit down on our newly purchased IKEA kitchen table. Pretty much everything in our house is IKEA and don’t laugh. It’s fucking nice. Look at this piece of shit Korean sofa. Does that look comfortable or chic in any way? No. So fuck off, I love IKEA..
“Well, Michael, I’m really sorry to have to tell you that due to some major cutbacks we won’t be able to honor your contract. Because you haven’t technically started yet, your contract isn’t binding and that makes you the lowest priority. We’ll have to let you go.”
Heart stopped. Lungs shrunk like testicles on a winter’s morning.
I stumbled through some questions:
“How can this be? I was just talking to HR yesterday! And the director promised me not a month ago that the delay wouldn’t be an issue!”
“I’m really sorry, Michael. I don’t know anything about that. All I know is there are a lot of cutbacks, and because you haven’t started yet, we can’t honor your contract. We could try to place you in another company, possibly in another city…”
And there I cut her off. My surprise turned to anger.
“Look, we’re a couple. I can’t just go off and get another job! And what about all the money I’m meant to be reimbursed!?”
It was at this point that I fell in love with my boyfriend all over again because Leighton stood up, looked this poor messenger in the eye and quit.
I was so proud of him! I’d slowly been trying to make him over into a brash American and it was finally working! Kiwi politeness be gone!
Having lived in Seoul before we were hesitant to come back. But the money was good and our company is great (treats the gays well).
Unfortunately, things have changed quite a bit in Seoul. More on that in the next article. Suffice it to say: not as impressed with our move as we thought we’d be.
So there we sat, at our kitchen table that took me twenty minutes (a record!) to assemble just the week before, wondering how we were gonna sell all our shit and get the fuck out of Seoul before the summer was wasted.
And that is when she burst out laughing.
“I’m just kidding! Oh my God! I’m your downstairs neighbor!”
My face: priceless confusion.
My boyfriend’s face: utter disappointment that we’d have to stay in Seoul after all.
Her face: maniacal smile and tears of pure joy.
In an odd twist of coincidence, our friend Nick- who we had over our first weekend in the new apartment- works with Meghan. When he was telling her about the amazing apartment his friends just got, she realized from the pictures that it was the same building she lives in.
They hatched a scheme and refined its sadistic details over weeks. He blames Meghan, but I’m not sure who to believe anymore.
As she explained this to me I hit her with her umbrella and called her not nice names that only gay boys can call girls.
“You asshole! You bitch! You….ahhhhh, crazy….dumb….” And this is where words failed me.
Her laughter only got louder.
And then she pulled out a box of cupcakes from her bag.
And all was forgiven.
The moral of the story is: I hate pranks, but I love cupcakes.