Saturday, April 7, 2012

Adventures at the Underground Market

My cellphone, which suffered the tragic loss of its plastic backing in December, is sputtering gracelessly into the twilight of its years. I occasionally get text messages a full 48 hours after they've been sent, and apparently when I call people, they can't hear me—and I can't hear them either, unless I plug my headphones in. My friend and former coworker Mina gave me her old phone, so I could hopefully switch my contract (yeah, I don't have a pay-as-you-go) from this phone to hers.

I have this, but in orange. Do not go gentle into that good night, little guy!

I've been meaning to do this for two weeks now, but stress and anxiety over trying to negotiate the situation with the phone store guys in my shitty Korean and their shitty English kept me away. Yes, simple things like talking to sales clerks gets my heart rate up. There's a reason I'm a reclusive hermit unless I'm with well-established friends and drinking buddies.

Anyway, today was doing to be different! I was going to be a normal person and be undaunted by the simple task before me! Surely I was worrying too much! It would be simple! Like when I left my first phone at a random bus stop in Uijeongbu and had to buy my now-perishing iriver!



I tried three different phone stores that carried the correct brand of cellphone (as far as I could tell) and not a one could (would?) help me. Add to this that my water bottle had leaked in my purse and gotten my Korean vocab book quite soggy and ruined the fastidious notes I had taken in a cute yellow notepad from Daiso, my mood quickly went from "LIFE IS GREAT WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY YEAH BEING RESPONSIBLE" to "NNNNNNNRGH SOD EVERYTHING I NEED A DRINK."

Being that there are no bars in the Uijeongbu Underground Market, I did the next best thing: engaged in retail therapy. But no clothes (too fat) or shoes (feet too big) or purses (cannot bring myself to give half a shit about them) for me. Instead, I availed myself of one of the countless optometrists in the market. I had tried to change my phone, after all. Surely I deserved some kind of reward! It had been stressful! I had felt like an idiot! I'd had to talk to strangers! Besides, I had been meaning to get a pair of black frames anyway, as my old black frames were now hopelessly out of date with their prescription and also more navy and less a true black than I'd like.

After some shopping around, the ajosshi behind the counter helped me find a pair of frames I liked, and he cut new lenses for them as well. It was just one man running the whole shop, which he did with such a well-practiced efficiency that it made me wonder if he wasn't some kind of magical glasses wizard.  He even had a very dapper pair of round lenses in thick black plastic himself. They suited him very well and made him look like a glasses magician even more. That or a cartoon character.

He didn't bother to tell me to go and shop around and wait for the new glasses, so I stayed and watched the lens-cutting machine drill out my new eyewear. That was pretty neat, because before when I've bought glasses, the store didn't keep the equipment out where people could watch. They'd just tell me to come back in like half an hour or whatever to pick them up. I'm sure he thought I was a weirdo for being so fascinated by it, but oh well.

So, sixty dollars later, I didn't have a new and more useful phone, but I did have some sweet new glasses!

This is the face of defeat.

I did manage to find some reasonably-priced ($15) bright red rain boots in my size, so even if my phone is broken, I'm ready for the upcoming rainy season. I guess I have that to feel productive about.

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