The J post has been a long time coming. Sorry about that. I was stuck for inspiration, adjusting to some intense medication and dealing with irregular mood swings (as opposed to my regular mood swings). I was going to write J is for Ju-Jitsu because I’ve recently decided to take my rage out on the delicate martial arts. Yoga didn’t work, meditation didn’t work, baking didn’t work, but maybe, just maybe, learning to kick the shit out someone might just do the trick. It didn’t. But I digress. I’ve changed the name of the country in this one, so I don’t get into trouble. I’ve never been to Korea and have no plans too (but one day, I’d love to go).
Everyone – You know what you should write about?
Me – No. What?
Everyone – All those passports you lost… How many was it… 4 … 5 ?
Me – 8. 8 passports. I’ve lost 8 passports
Everyone – Jesus! You’re stupid.
True… there are many good stories out there and they’re on the way. But I’ve a crap memory and this happened very recently.
Me – Hello. I need a visa.
Embassy Man – A visa for what?
Me – Oh, sorry. A tourist visa.
Embassy Man – Where are you traveling to?
Me – Korea.
Very tempted to say “The Moon, you bollox. That’s why I’m here” Oh did I mention, I was in the Korean embassy? The man then types on his computer. Probably googling what the hell to do next.
Embassy Man – Our consular services close at 1.00.
Me – OK. Well it’s 12.50.
Embassy Man – Yes. But it will take over an hour.
Me – So…
Embassy Man – you should come tomorrow at 12.00.
Resisting the urge to stab him in the eye with a pen and thinking to myself – Employee of the month must be a real contest.
Me – But I took a taxi to get here.
Embassy Man – Oh. I am very sorry, sir.
Me – Twice.
Embassy Man – Why did you a take a taxi twice?
Me – Because no one answered the door bell yesterday.
Embassy Man – You can just push open the door, you don’t need to ring the bell.
Me – Well, I know that now. Is there nothing you can do? I’ve missed work to get here.
Embassy Man – I am very sorry, sir.
In his defense, he did actually look like he was sorry.
Me – Right, so I’ll just come back tomorrow then… how long does the process take?
Embassy Man – Oh, it’s very quick, sir.
Me – Great. But like, an hour, a day, a week….. ?
Embassy Man – Oh, it won’t take a week, sir. But longer than an hour, much longer than one hour, sir.
Me – Right. Well. Thanks.
Embassy Man – Have a good day sir.
Me – I’ll try.
I turn around pack up my documents and turn to go out the door. It should be noted that there are like 40 people in the waiting room, men, women and children and I am the only one that looks, even remotely, European.
Random Man at Water Machine – You have degree?
Me – Sorry. What?
Random Man at Water Machine – You have degree? University.
Me – Yes.
Random Man at Water Machine – Very good degree.
He smiles at me while I walk passed looking extremely confused, and trying to imagine that if this is the embassy, I can’t imagine how random Korea is going to be.
Later that day on the phone to my Korean friend….
Korean friend – I can sort your visa out if you want.
Me – Really. Because it’s becoming a right pain the bum-bum taking taxis after taxi to the embassy. I can’t miss work. And the opening times are annoying.
Korean friend – Oh, dear. Do they want a lot of paperwork?
Me – Fuck me. Yes. Bank statement, work contract, invitation letter, passport, photos, form… I hope they don’t want a medical. I have some crazy shit in my system.
Korean friend – When is your flight?
Me – The 30th.
Korean friend – And your flight out….
Me – I’m gonna take a cab through the border. It’s only 50 dollars.
Korean friend – Yes. You need to show proof of that.
Me – I know. No offence. But why do I need to prove that? I mean it’s kinda the opposite of the migrant crisis that we have in Europe. Why would any Irish citizen want to stay in your country for a prolonged period of time? I mean, it’s like asking a Norwegian, visiting Afghanistan, sorry but can you prove you’re not going to stay here and exploit our social system? How bizarre.
Korean friend – Well, it’s not quite the same thing. It’s more for security.
Me – Yeah. But I’m Irish. Our terrorists don’t leave the island. There’s a difference. Anyway… what can you do, because I really want to see you? I’ve been reading loads about the history and the culture.
Korean friend – Oh, great. That’s so nice. What have you read? Did you learn anything interesting?
Me – Eh, yeah. Well, I didn’t actually read anything, but I will… I promise.
Korean friend – Great. Well, my cousin is the ambassador for the U.K.
Me – WHAT???
Very long pause…. .
Me – Well, can’t he get one?
Korean friend – I’m sure he can. I will give you his assistant’s phone number. Contact him, and he will sort it all out. His name is Ku.
So after much small talk, I call Ku. He doesn’t answer because, I imagine, he’s probably very busy working for the ambassador and whatnot. So, I leave a voicemail, and another voicemail and another and even a complimentary SMS message and WhatsApp message. The juxtaposition comes next.
While shopping in Primark (that’s Penny’s for the Irish readers and for the American readers, Primark is like Forever 21 except considerably shittier quality), I was browsing the shorts selection trying to figure out how I could get a pair of shorts that look like shorts but could also be used in a pool without anyone knowing they are not specifically swimming shorts and with fabric that would dry quickly. I’m doing everything on the cheap.
Man on Phone – Hello. Is that Mr. Callaghan?
Me – Yes. Oh, hi. Are you Ku? I’ve left you loads of messages.
Man on Phone – No, I am not Ku. He is my assistant.
Me – Oh, God. Well, it is very hard to get a hold of him. I’ve been trying for days.
Hasn’t fully registered what has actually happened because I was debating if electric lime green was in fashion.
Man on Phone – I think there has been some mistake.
Me – Yeah, maybe. I need to get a visa to Korea.
Man on Phone – You are a friend of my cousin, Mr, Callaghan, aren’t you?
Me – Oh, dear. Are you the ambassador? Oh, God. I’m so sorry….
Man on Phone – I think you were given my number in error, I will have my assistant call you back.
Me – That would be lovely. I’m sorry if I wasted your time. I didn’t know.
Man on Phone – No problem at all. I would kindly ask that you delete this number please. It was not supposed to be issued.
Me – Yes, your majesty. Sir. Yes.
Man on Phone – I hope you enjoy your vacation.
Me – I will, sir, thank you.
At this point, I was swiftly making my way down the escalator into the bra section of Primark on the ground floor, feeling very stupid and wondering why he has an English accent and used the word vacation…..