I got a new job for this fall (wha-hoooo!) on the opposite side of the city, which requires me to redo all of the paperwork I had to do when I first came to Korea. Therefore, I have to get my fingerprints taken here and mail them back to Michigan. I am in love with my state at the moment, I was emailed back multiple times within HOURS of asking how the process works with me out of the country. Laurie from the State of Michigan, you are my new best friend.
On Tuesday I headed over to my local police station with a piece of paper explaining what I needed in Korean. The police officers ate, smiled, and stared at me with curiosity and there was a lot of finger-pointing (as in point to our fingers, not ‘it was you, admit it!’). I was finally able to conclude that they were too small to take my finger prints and I had to go to a bigger station. “어디?” (Where?) More finger-pointing, not at fingers this time.
We got my translator on the phone (aka my co-teacher) and confirmed that this was indeed what they were saying. “But they won’t tell me where it is,” I tell Kyung Yoon. “Oh, they are going to take you there.”
WHAT? as if that would EVER happen in the USA. Two officers grab their hats, dust the crumbs from their lips, and open both the door to the station and the door to the police car. I hop in the back and off we go. 15 minutes later I am escorted into a huge station (both doors opened for me yet again, the only thing missing was the cuffs) and lead to a back room. No one speaks English, they find some private investigator looking guy who shows up five minutes later, before this happens a dozen young (and not too shabby looking) officers file into the room from another small room and stare at me. They mumble to each other in Korean and one boldly says, “beautiful.” Well, this isn’t awkward at all.
After arguing with private investigator look-a-like about what I needed he finally just gives in and lets some guy take my finger prints (he was convinced he needed to contact someone before doing so, though I clearly said I just wanted prints to send back to the States). By the time my left hand was all inked up he exclaimed, “Oh! I understand.” I would have been sarcastic with him, but I was sitting in a police station after all and I had already been sent to the principal’s office at school that day for leaving the country without permission.
In the principal’s office it took everything I had in me not to laugh when the first phrases translated to me was, “Do you know your fault?” Getting scolded for doing something legitimately wrong in ENGLISH is one thing, I will admit my fault. But getting scolded in Korean and then having it translated to me when I know fully well I did nothing bad, well it tends to be kind of funny. I held it together, kept my head bowed and said, “죄송합니다.” (“I am sorry.”) That did the trick, I am forgiven.
This week I played a game with my students where I blindfolded one person and had their teammates give them directions around the classroom to find my water bottle. It was hilarious. Except when one kid ran up to a boy who was blindfolded and put both his middle fingers up. Not so funny.