Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Way too much stuff

From the "getting paid to do what is essentially the same as blogging" department: the new Los Angeles Times Seoul correspondent, John Glionna, writes about his experiences packing up his belongings in San Francisco and moving to South Korea. 

My ex lived a spartan life, refusing to buy any furniture because that would tie her down to Seoul (she preferred calling herself a bohemian). I, on the other hand, have collected more than a decade's worth of stuff in three different abodes that also served as office space for me and a handful of irregular employees. When I had a sizable apartment and then an even larger house at my disposable, this was not a problem. But when I bought my current place, I had nowhere to put all that stuff. I opted to pile it from floor to ceiling in the smallest of the rooms. It barely fit. 

If you've ever gone through one of these moves, you've probably had to hire the type of people Mr Glionana is referring to:
Then my stuff arrived.

My wife had arrived the previous day after a month visiting her family in Beijing. The knock came on the door. I didn't want to answer. They knocked again -- they knew I was in there. So I opened up.

What greeted me was an army of fast-moving, hard-working South Korean men -- almost a dozen of them.

Their supervisor, Mr. Kim, handed me a clipboard with a piece of paper with 288 marked boxes, one for each box of my belongings these poor stiffs would have to haul out of two delivery trucks, up a freight elevator 34 floors and into my apartment.

"You have a lot of stuff," Mr. Kim said.

What happened over the next four hours was simply remarkable. My job, if one wants to call it that, was to stand in the doorway as this moving battalion carried each box inside, one by one. They would call out a number and I would check the appropriate box.

Then they would announce the contents and I would direct them to a room. Soon, numbers were flying fast and furious. I couldn't keep up. I was sending boxes of bathroom junk into my home office.
He has the experience down to a tee, including the nonchalant comment ("you have a lot of stuff") by the Korean movers about something that many Westerners would think is none of his business. Get used to it, Mr Glionna. Oh, and welcome. I knew some of your predecessors, and I hope you have as much fun as they did. (And it's some six thousand miles from California to Korea, not five thousand. Be glad they didn't deliver it to Hokkaidō.)

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