Sunday, May 24, 2009

Goodbye, BS Bank

The last time that BS Bank gave me trouble, they were still going by the far less apt Pusan Bank. An over the top hissy fit, which began and ended with me calling the bank racist, eventually resulted in me getting what I wanted. I swore that the next time PS Bank tried to screw me would be the last time. I didn't swear that I wouldn't have another hissy fit.

A couple of weeks ago, I made my monthly BS Bank visit to pay some bills and wire more than half of my salary home. Were the latter not a possibility, I wouldn't be here. While teaching English in Korea isn't going to bring in the riches, it pays off enough student debt that I can justify still being here when I'm knee deep in yet another I Hate Korea week.

I usually deal with the same teller at BS Bank, and he always asks for the same information: passport, bank book, and details of the account I'm wiring money to. Just in case he happens to fall into a barrel of BS that day, I always make sure to have further proof of my identity, statements from previous transactions, and every single pay stub that my current job has ever given me. He doesn't really need any of this stuff to wire my money home and had never asked before, but BS happens.

On this day, he looked over my account information on my screen and then suspiciously back at me. "You send money home every month." It wasn't clear whether he was stating a fact or inquiring, so I responded as if it were a question. "Yes. That's sort of the point." I've never been good with stupid questions. Or really obvious statements. Which one was it?

Overwhelmed by my charm, the teller tried to tell me that he was going to need to see pay stubs. I handed him the stack of them before he could come up with the words. He eyed them suspiciously, looked back at the screen, and glared at me. "Do you have anything else?", he asked. Deja vu! "Why would I need something else? Pay stub. Deposit. You might notice that the amounts match", I sneered. He wasn't satisfied. "You're going to need.... a certificate.... from work", he told me. Because apparently having official pay slips from the company which not only matches the one on your VISA, but also conveniently coincides with the only deposits ever made into your bank account, isn't quite proof enough that you're not trying to wire drug money out of the country.

"There wasn't a problem here in February, March, or April", I stated. Because I understand that statements are not questions. "Every month. You need... certificate. Yes". Was he asking me a question again? "Yeah... no. That's total BS", I told the teller. The teller looked confused. I wasn't done. "See, I'm just going to find a bank with less discriminatory policies. Close my account. Now." So, he did.

As it turns out, there was no hissy fit to be had this time. Largely because I was so sleepy, but I'd like to think that I've matured enough to realize that there is little use in wasting energy fighting battles that you can't win. Also, I've been sober for what seems like a ridiculously long time. Is it June yet? I said little more than what needed to be said and I was out of there. It was nap time.

My reward for refusing to tolerate BS was to drag my ass across the street with $2,500 in my purse. I don't love doing that nearly as much as I thought I would, so I dumped it all off at the Korea Exchange Bank. KEB opened my account and wired my money home in one sitting, all without asking a single stupid question.

Before anybody wonders why I'm toolishly abbreviating "Busan" and "Pusan" as BS and PS, know that it's not because I think I'm being clever, but that it's what the company would want:

That the brain trust at Pusan Bank think that the logical step after changing from a P to a B is to introduce a BS logo, is terribly amusing. If I'm honest, I might be willing to admit that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for how this logo came to be, and that I only assume that this is yet another glaring example of this institution's retardation because my past relations with the company have been sour and I hate them a whole bunch. And if I'm super lucky, somebody really boring will share this really boring explanation with us in the comments section of this post. But mostly, I'm just going to enjoy the chuckle that I get everytime that I walk by this sign.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Plucking Class

Classroom 43 is far too small. I can't walk from the door to the whiteboard without inadvertently rubbing up against 6 students. I'd rather not spend part of my teaching day contemplating the ass-or-crotch dilemma. Student-Teacher relationships aren't really my thing, making me somewhat of a minority at Barbie Hagwon Version 2.0.

Sometime last week as I was going into class, I noticed a white hair sticking out on top of Reba Student's head. Were I not impulsive and just plain big mouthed, I could have let this go. As it is, I immediately blurted out, "Reba Student, you have a white hair." I then poked her in the head to indicate exactly where the hair was.

The other five students giggled for longer than was probably necessary (whether it was at Reba's expense or mine remains to be seen). Reba Student took a mirror out of her purse and frantically began inspecting the top of her head for a white hair. "Rebecca, I don't see it". She put her mirror down, defeated.

I apologized for the comment and suggested that we just pretend that never happened. I pointed out that my head is full of white hairs (not entirely true) and attempted to move on with the day's lesson. Over the next five minutes, as I tried to get the class engaged in some activity about food or something or other, Reba and Jackie Students worked together to find and remove the white hair. Jackie Student would find it, then fail to rip it out, then lose it. This process repeated itself three times before I accepted that I had no choice but to intervene.

"Reba, do you want me to rip it out?"
"Yes, yes please! And thank you."
"Really? It's just a white hair. I have some, too. Really. I swear."
"I want it out"
"Yes, now. It's fine."


I went to my purse to retrieve a pair of tweezers and plucked the hair right from her scalp. In the middle of class. With the other students watching. She yelped then examined the hair that I placed on her desk. "But it's black", she insisted. Then she noticed the tiny hair beside it. "Oh. It's white". Yes, it was. It was also totally unnoticeable to anybody who doesn't have to crawl over her on a daily basis to get to the whiteboard. Yet, for some reason, she thanked me afterwards and insisted that my repeated apologies were totally unnecessary.