Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Phones and Movies

I know I haven't been posting as regularly as I'd like. I've been busy, and moody, and I've got this lower back pain thing going on again. It kind of feels like someone is twisting a corkscrew into me.

My new toy, sadly, won't work with my computer, which has Windows 98 loaded on it, and my MP3 player requires Windows XP. I'm not going to return it to the store, though. I'm either going to visit a PC room, or head into work early or stay late. The drag about that is probably the programs I'll need to upload tunes into my little player will be in Korean, so I'll have to wing it. I'll need Windows Media Player 10, so maybe I can persuade an English version to download to whatever PC I'll be working on. My mind's been busy and my hands have been rubbing together with the thought of all the rockin tunes I will, hopefully, be able to hear through my little "earbuds," instead of the choppy versions that are constantly playing in the soundtrack of my life, which runs in my brain. I've always contended that if there were an operation available to have a music chip installed in my head, I would be one of the first to sign up. I would hope there would be a volume control, though, for sleep-time and such, but whatever.

Meanwhile, life rolls by.

I got some good news from my boss last week, that she had discovered a long distance plan that would save me a bunch of money on my phone bills. I actually don't call long distance too much, because the rates were outrageous! I have been paying around 1,300 won a minute (almost $1.50 Cdn.) since I got here. When I first arrived back in Korea from Japan, I went a little mental with the phone calls. During the almost 2 years I'd been living in Japan, I didn't have a home line, just a cellphone, which didn't allow for long distance calls. On the few occasions I had to call home, I used a payphone, or a friends' line.

I was shocked by the bills I got the first couple of months here. My boss was kind enough to split my bill in half, as it was over 500,000 won (about $560 Cdn.!) She could see how bothered I was the this amount, as I sat with a calculator breaking down the bill to per minute rates and getting more and more ticked off. How could it be my family could call me for .12 cents a minute, and I was paying over 12 times that amount! I asked if there were any alternatives, any discount plans, could I buy some kind of discount calling card? This was met with a confused, "I dunno!"

Well, now that the boss's husband has gone overseas (he's been gone now since August) she found out what it's like to get a huge-ass phone bill. So she made a call, and we got a deal. I pay a one time fee of 5,000 won, and get a discount on 3 countries. I really only call people in Canada and Japan, but what the hell, I included the States as well, so if any Americans reading this want to chat, I'm good to go. My per minute rate to call Canada is 150 won a minute. About 17 cents.

While I'm grateful my boss finally got this taken care of for me, it's happened about 16 months later than it should. While complaining to my co-worker about this, she suggested that the boss had felt "it wasn't her business." I interjected, "but oh, it IS her business! I can't speak Korean, and there's quite a few things I need help with because of that!" I'm not totally useless, I can sort out dinner at a restaurant by myself. I can find things I need, and get from point A to B fairly well. I can't order a pizza though. I can't call a locksmith when my key travels off to Japan in my friend's pocket. And, I can't call to inquire what can be done, if anything, to lower my crazy ass phone bills. I asked my boss if there was any way the phone company might be able to charge me the fee and adjust my bills retroactively for, say, the last couple months (year?) She said she'd ask, and the next day when I asked her what they said, she said "uhhhh, no."

I've said it before, and I'll mention it again, I work for a very kind lady whom I really do like. When the time comes to hire a new teacher, though, I'm going to try to make sure my school gets someone with some previous experience in Korea. Otherwise, I worry that they might feel quite lost. I feel a bit bitter that my boss only made the call to the phone company when it was in her own best interest. If she had done it when I asked her to over a year ago, I'd have saved hundreds of dollars.

So, for those of you that don't know, KT does have some long distance savings plans. There's even a better deal with Skype, if you have a computer and a headset with mic, you can call FREE to anywhere. Free is good. If you're teaching in Korea and not getting the help you need from your boss, be persistent. Not, like pain-in-the-ass bothersome, but gentle yet firm. (Or if your boss is an ass, scream at him or her, and call them crazy! They LOVE that!*) A happy foreign teacher who is getting their needs met here makes for a better working environment. I would have preferred it if my boss had taken more (actually, some) time to show me around when I first got here. Ah well.

Now I'm going to watch a movie. I like to rent a movie I've seen and enjoyed already (tonight's feature will be "Matchstick Men") and visit, before I watch it, IMDb and read all the "goofs" and see if I can spot them in the movie. Does that make me a nerd? If you have some time, though, I recommend checking that site out, and looking up your favourite movies to read, especially, the goofs and trivia sections.

Take it easy Beautiful Babies!

*Oh yes, speaking of phones, at my 1st job in Masan in 2002, the foreign couple whose contract was coming to an end, felt really taken advantage of by the boss. The Kiwi guy was actually very laid back, but his wife,...what a firecracker! One day, during their second last week, they got into an argument with the boss and she shouted, "You're fucking CRAZY if you think we're going to,...." and the boss LOST it. He whipped things off his desk, leaped up, knocking over his chair, and screamed "I CRAZY?!? YOU CRAZY,...YOU CRAAAZZZZEEEE,..." (followed by a string of what I assume were Korean curses.) I thought the boss's head was going to explode.

For payback, that couple spent their last weekend in Korea upstairs in their apartment calling anyone and everyone they had ever met all over the world, and talking to them for hours. They even invited me up to reach out and touch my friends and family on their phone, but there was no way I was getting involved in that! When the massive bill finally came, the boss asked me if I knew how to get in touch with them. I told him I had their e-mail, (which was truly all I did have) knowing he already had that. He walked away muttering "crazy bad boys *@!&@#%^#."


Joel said...

I have this phone card I recharge on the Internet that's like 60 Won a minute. (500 minutes for 30,000). That's by far the best deal I've ever found. Sure the code is a hassle to type in everytime, but hey I'm cheap.

hojuin said...

Not to seem patronising (I guess theres a good reason you don't use them) but any 7-11 LG or GS 25 sell international phone cards, 2 hours for 10,000 to anywhere in the world... dunno if they work from a home-line or not but payphones and mobiles are sweet (though it is at the local carrier rate if you sue your mobile).

just an FYI in case ya didn't know.


John McCrarey said...

Yeah, I'm late to getting around to comment here, but I buy phone cards that have over 300 minutes for $20.

Works from the home phone too...