My new apartment is quaint, complete with a twin size bed, a bathroom, a stove, and a washing machine. The only default is the lack of an oven. I moved in last Tuesday, however it needed some deep cleaning. After hours of scrubbing, I had a mountain of trash that I was ready to remove from my small living space. That night I made several trips down to the dumpster. At about 2 am, trash bag in hand, I moseyed downstairs to find out that the security guard locked the side door (which leads to the disposal sight). So back upstairs I went with my bag of trash.
Awkward moment one: Since it was so early in the morning, I had hoped that I wouldn't have to see anyone. Unfortunately, I live in Seoul so this wasn't the case. A man joined me in the elevator and I tried to hide the bright yellow bag. For about four flights the man stared at me and on the fifth flight he asked me something. My face was blank because I could not understand a word he said. My brain went immediately went into foreigner mode, which is problematic because foreigner mode for me is French. "Pardon," I mumbled. He repeated "pardon" in conversation and in my mind he asked what my name is. Finally I was on the sixth floor and as I left I said "Niki" and bowed as I exited the elevator with my yellow bag.
After that strange moment, I went back downstairs and wandered to 7 Eleven for some comfort food- an ice cream cone. It cost 1,500 won. For some reason I have been mixing up money and I handed the clerk 1000 won confusing it for 10,000 won. I waited for him to give me my change and he demanded 500 won. I fought myself as I almost said "desole"- which is "sorry" in French, and instead I said "sorry" and quickly scurried back to my apartment.
Awkward moment two: The next morning, I decided it was time to try again with the trash. I took the same yellow bag back to the elevator. The door was unlocked! I was at the dumpster, but the lid wouldn't open all the way. I proceeded to try to shove the bag in until I heard a voice from behind me. I turned around and noticed the parking lot attendant waving me down from his booth. He signaled for me to come to him. He then dug through my bag and yelled "NO THANK YOU! NO THANK YOU AAAAH... NO THANK YOU!" He asked me which apartment I lived in and I responded with my fingers holding up six fingers, then forming a 0 with both hands and then nine fingers. Yes this is weird and since he did speak some English I don't know why I felt the need to do that. I had another ride of shame in the same elevator with the same yellow bag.
Apparently my yellow bag was not good enough for the dumpster. I have learned that I am supposed to use specific garbage bags that I can buy at 7 eleven or Family Mart. Unfortunately these bags are only available upon special request and are not easily found on the shelves. This is the city's way to pay the garbage-men. I have an example bag to show the clerk at 7 Eleven tomorrow so that I can now join the others in my building.
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5 years ago