Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Customs, Communication, and Carrying Boxes

So I am all hyper and excited because I HAVE MY BOXES! Expect plenty of footnotes aka bracketed clarifications (like this) in this entry...

We have been 'negotiating' with Mr. Chang of Molax Shipping for the last two weeks via email and phone. He originally sent us an email saying our sixteen boxes from Canada had arrived (but not where) and we owed money on them (but not how much). In the course of determining this so-crucial information we exchanged various emails, phone calls, proxy phone calls (where we give up on communicating in poor Korean (on my side) and poor English (on his) and ask for the phone to be passed to 'my assistant'. Darling Jisu (no, that's not her name, despite the fact that I append the epithet to every mention of her. Her NAME is Jisu, and she sweetly and cheerfully takes care of all kinds of requests from the eight foreign teachers ranging from 2000 photocopies to translating artsy poetry) was a huge help in that last case.

Upon determining that we owed about two hundred in port fees, gasoline, transport from Pusan to Shingal (a suburb of Yongin!), and various administrative expenses, we were able to send Molax their money by direct deposit, fax the deposit slip Proof of Payment, get back a receipt by fast courier, and take that receipt into Shingal Customs... all on the same day! The Customs Office, amazingly, is about thirty minutes from our place, and we were able to contract (in poor Korean on my side and even less English on theirs) the warehouse roughneck ajusshis (uncles) to forklift our pallet onto a little blue pickup truck and bounce their way back to Myongji with us.

I got to ride with the truck driver, who was somewhat apprehensive about merely following a foreigner in his white Leganza, until I assured him that my husband had been a bus driver back in Canada. Interestingly enough, this produced a much greater impression than my prior announcement that we were English professors - usually the cue for an awed look and the typical breath-suck of respect that such educational status brings! He got us and our boxes home safely and then carted them inside as well (all part of the service, ma'am...)

Of course, I had to open just a few right then and there, and thanks to my meticulous packing list chose the most IMPORTANT ones... like #9, with the SHEETS! Yay, real sheets and pillowcases, at last! And my knife block! (I've been cutting oranges, dicing tomatoes, bisecting bagels, and spreading butter with the same little paring knife for two months now...) And Katherine's books! She's so happy....

(dances around living room singing) I have my boxes, I have my boxes, I have my things....

Lest I seem incredibly shallow, please note that we've been living in a a very 'improv' sort of way for the last, oh, six months or so. Being able to settle in and have a few of the most important tools, craft supplies, household goods, and basic means of living is a very necessary security. And then there's the higher level (on Maslow's pyramid) of sensual and spiritual satisfaction; having my artworks and precious souvenirs and memories around me!


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Anonymous audrey said...

Hooray! I'm so glad for you that they finally arrived! (However, I now have grave concerns about when your care package may show up.)
Once you get your place all set up the way you like it - with sheets, knives, books, etc. - we expect to see some pictures posted .. maybe some with Bryan in them so we know he's still alive.. ;)

April 25, 2007 at 7:43 a.m.  
Blogger Alembyc said...

@ Audrey: Well, we DID ship our boxes even before we left. And my mother sent a package just recently which arrived yesterday, so things ARE getting through. Of course, it's always possible that Customs decided to confiscate the Cheez Whiz and are now happily enjoying it on their own toasted bagels...

And speaking of possibilities... er, well, about Bryan.

The S'th'knrii of Sirius 3 say that he's being treated well, supplied with computer games, and still has all his 'original appendages', but they warn me that he's not cooperating well with the 'sampling integration process'. All messages will be passed along, and will eventually reach him in the 'viral isolation tank', but I am not to 'grasp my inhalation'. I think that means 'don't hold your breath'....


April 25, 2007 at 7:56 a.m.  
Blogger Liese said...

Hi, Judy!

I wanted to ask you about care packages. How long should they take to get to you, anyway? And can you send stuff like medication in them? (OTC stuff like acetaminophen, cough medicine, tar shampoo, etc.) What about spices? Is there any stuff like that which you would like to get? I seem to remember sending you some spices last time you were in Korea. Please elaborate on the shipping regulations.

Went to Value Village yesterday but no mermaids. I am going to ask Michaela (de Boer) to make enquiries for me at school if any of her classmates have an Ariel mermaid doll they would like to sell me for a couple of dollars. They're starting to get beyond dolls at that age (9-10) already, so that might prove fruitful. And Michaela knows a lot of girls. So we'll see what comes of that.

My love to you and Katherine. Tell the S'th'knrii to give Bryan a hug for me. See you on Skype!

April 25, 2007 at 9:51 a.m.  
Anonymous audrey said...

Who is looking for mermaids? I may be able to help.

April 26, 2007 at 11:37 a.m.  
Blogger Alembyc said...

To all and sundry: Me! I mean, I'm looking for a mermaid doll. A little plastic one that can go in the bathtub would be ideal, but a Barbie-size doll is fine too. Katherine has been watching "The Little Mermaid" until she can sing along with all the songs, and has some toy fish/crabs/dolphins that she insists upon having with her in the bathtub every night... so now she would really like an Ariel (or other mer-girl) to go along with her 'Sebastian' and 'Flounder'!

April 26, 2007 at 8:50 p.m.  
Anonymous audrey said...

Judy, Victoria has some mermaid Barbies she no longer plays with, and they can go in the water. I can send one (or 2?) by express post (so they get there before Katherine has outgrown them - providing the customs people don't have a hankering for mermaid dolls!)

April 27, 2007 at 12:32 p.m.  

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