Thursday, August 17, 2017

and then there were... fewer

At work, one of our number has bailed on us: he did a runner sometime over the past two or three days, leaving Korea quite suddenly and with almost no advance warning. I didn't know anything was wrong until a different coworker sent me a text yesterday morning asking me to check up on our man, who hadn't been responding to calls and texts over the weekend. I'm pretty sure everyone was having nightmare visions of this dude lying in his bed, dead and slowly rotting, the foam from his final seizure drying on his lips and cheeks. I went up to the seventh floor, knocked on my coworker's door three times, and got no answer. I then slid open his hallway-side window—like a criminal—to peek inside his apartment.

No one was there, and the place was empty.

I took a cell-phone pic of the situation and texted it to the coworker who had asked me to check on our runner. Based on the cleared-out look of the apartment, I immediately assumed the guy had skedaddled, and I relayed this suspicion to the office. Later on, I discovered that the runner had emailed our boss a day or two ago to apologize for bailing and to explain how depressed and homesick he had been while living in Korea.

While I think it's a sign of immaturity to cut and run with little advance notice, thus leaving one's boss and coworkers in the lurch, I can understand how some expats in Korea come to feel the need to bolt. Korea elicits strong reactions; many expats plunge into the culture fairly deeply, finding it hard to pull away even when they do manage to leave. Plenty of expats come back here; I'm no exception, having zigzagged between Korea and the US for years. Other expats stay until they've had their fill of perceived nonsense, then they leave on a note of "Fuck this, and fuck Korea." It's probably better that they do leave: there are other expats who, for some mysterious reason, hate living in Korea, complain constantly about the country, yet never leave. I don't understand these miserable bastards at all, but if I had to guess, they remain in Korea out of fear of change, laziness, and the never-admitted knowledge that they can't hack it back in their home country. (Or maybe they just lack the money for a plane ticket out of the badlands. The lack of money is probably the result of fear and laziness, too.)

Anyway, we're in the midst of hiring for two open slots, and now we suddenly have a third position to fill. Luckily, we already have a pile of résumés in our applicant pool, so we may be reconsidering some of the people who applied but, for whatever reason, failed to make the grade the first time. Not all of these people are duds; it's just that other applicants were better.

By the way, this coworker who ran is the same guy who complimented my Middle Eastern chicken, proclaiming it legitimately Middle Eastern. When I did my second in-office luncheon, he called my food "five-star." For that selfish reason, if for no other, I'm sad to see him go: I've lost a fan of my cooking.


King Baeksu said...

In Saudi Arabia, an Irish colleague failed to turn up to work one Sunday morning at the start of the workweek. It's impossible to "pull a runner" in KSA as you need an official exit visa to leave, provided by your employer.

After several days without word, it was decided that calls should be made to all the local prisons, and eventually he was located at one of the most notorious jails in the area.

His crime? He had been walking home on Friday night from a hush-hush speakeasy and had the misfortune of passing two Saudi police, who asked for his resident's permit and happened to smell alcohol on his breath as he was leaving and bid them goodnight.

Altogether he spent a wretched week in the slammer until finally our employer was able to pull some strings and bail him out. I suppose this is what is meant by "an Irishman's luck."

South Korea is some Mickey Mouse Club shit in comparison.

Kevin Kim said...

Quite a story. Yikes.

Frank (formerly known as Nomad) said...

I knew it was time to go when little things that had never bothered me before started irritating me; I didn't want to end up like the last category. Ha, and now my daughter and son-in-law are living a few blocks away from John.

Kevin Kim said...

Crazy world.

But when ya gotta leave, ya gotta leave. Probably for the best. Why stress yourself—and others—out, after all?

Neil Barker said...

I had a former coworker do this in my first year in Korea. He wasn't too happy there anyways and would have been more miserable had he stayed. I was the one that had to inform the school director which wasn't too pleasant. I think the director went through all 7 stages of grief in a matter of 2 minutes. In the end, the school was a better place without Mr. Runner.