Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fun with the House Manager

One perk that I was unaware of when coming here was that the housing costs that were being covered by the company also included furniture and appliances and such. While this is pretty much awesome, it has led to some awkward situations.

Originally, the plan was to wait till I moved to my full-time apartment before the stuff would be purchased. Well, actually I don't know what the original plan was. In fact, I only found out that furnishings would be supplied when I got a phone call from the GHD (people subcontracted by the company to babysit foreigners) telling me that I could have a couch or a desk, but not both b/c they wouldn't both fit in my apartment. Incidentally, this was the first confirmation that I received that an apartment had been secured for me. Such is how information is transferred.

Well, anyway, after a bit of confusion, I selected the couch and was pleased that I had fewer things to worry about and pay for. This was all well and good, until I moved into my temporary apartment. The big plus of this in my mind was that I'd be able to cook. It's not like I'm a culinary expert, but I miss real breakfast food (I'm sure I've complained about what passes for breakfast here [if not: western breakfast in the cafeteria had pasta and brownies one day]). So I was excited to be able to eat copious amounts of bacon and eggs again.

Except that I had no cooking stuff. Just a microwave and fridge. I was hesitant to buy things b/c I knew some things would be provided upon moving (the exact items were kept a secret to heighten the anticipation). I finally decided that I didn't care and bought a couple plates, an electric burner and enough utensils to cook and eat eggs.

Before buying anything else, though, I decided to ask what would be provided in the new place so as to avoid duplicity. In what is one of the most annoying aspects of being here, rather than getting an actual answer about what would be provided, I was told that the housing manager would meet me after work to provide me things. While a simple list would have sufficed, I wasn't going to complain about getting more crap that I can use immediately.

So yesterday evening, the housing manager shows up with boxes of kitchen crap. And here's why this is weird:

1. I'm not sure who the housing manager is or what exactly his job entails. I first met him as the guy that was cleaning the apartment prior to my arrival. He gave me the keys and warned me not to use the kitchen sink until it had been worked out between the apartment and company who was paying to have it fixed*. So I assumed he was in charge of the apartment complex. Except that now, it's apparent that his job also includes shopping for me and he will be in charge of moving my crap to the real apartment when the time comes. Also, I asked him about where to dispose of recycling and he had to ask a security guard, so he clearly isn't affiliated w/ this particular apartment complex.

*1b. The sink still isn't fixed. Apparently since I'm only here for a month the company doesn't want to pay or something. Which makes sense- except for the very idea that the person moving into an apartment is responsible for paying to fix broken things. Really, WTF? Also, in another day or two, I'm just going to go ahead and wash the dishes, leak be damned. I mean, I made a cheeseburger and I don't think washing the greasy pan in the bathtub is a reasonable option. And, yes, sibling, that does mean I have gross, dirty dishes stacked in my kitchen. So there's still a chance that I can make that TV show.

2. As if having this guy doing simple shopping wasn't strange enough, he insists upon unpacking everything. I try to help and he tells me no. So I stand there in the kitchen while he pulls plates out of the box and puts them in my cabinets. It was bizarre. I mean what's the proper etiquette for when a stranger has bought you stuff like sponges and dishtowels and is unpacking them all for you? I went with uncomfortable watching.

Not that this is the first time I've been relegated to awkward observance. Maybe the service industry is just way better here (and I'm not even talking about the massage parlors). When I picked up my stuff at the post office, they insisted on hauling the boxes around and not letting me help. The bellhop at the hotel did the same when I asked for a cart. I mean, I guess I appreciate their efforts, but they don't tip here and I'm just left standing around. Maybe I just need to work on my sense of entitlement.

Anyway, here are my new dishes. So if I start cooking Korean food and make a bajillion side dishes, I'll totally be set. Or if I need a weird mini-fork anytime soon, also covered.

Again, can't complain about free things, but yeah, probably won't be making much use of some of these. Probably wouldn't have picked that bedspread either...

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