As most of you are probably aware, I spilled water on my laptop in June which was just one of a string of traumatizing events which I detailed in other posts. At the time I was recovering from a string of anxiety attacks brought on by the sudden disappearance of a guy whom I’d been seeing, which amounted to betrayal in my somewhat innocent (or rather, up to then, lucky) experience with men. As I was struggling with sadness, anger, and disbelief, I spent most of my free time watching the few palatable shows available to me on Netflix in this are of the world, and I ended up trying out the Anne of Green Gables remake at that time. It was part-way through the first episode that it happened—my 2L water bottle fell over, taking a bowl of instant ramen with it, onto the keyboard portion of my laptop. The power immediately cut and although I sopped up what I could, what had been done had been done. The next night I took it to an authorized Apple repair center in Myeongdong, where they spoke English well enough for me to understand perfectly that the repair costs for this particular strain of damage would amount to 1.2 million won as the base charge, with other possible charges for other “surprise” repairs that they couldn’t anticipate now. They said I needed to replace the logic board and keyboard component. If you don’t know your won to USD conversion rates, that’s basically a $1000(+) repair.
I went home feeling conflicted. I wanted to be angry and upset, but the logical part of my brain wouldn’t allow that: every time I came close to feeling something like frustration it turned into resignation, because I knew it was my fault. I’d made a mistake and this was the price.
Over what would turn out to be a very long and comically complicated process, I ended up sending the laptop to my dad in California. His company has branches in Seoul, so rather than try to ship via Fed Ex for $200+ I traipsed down to Guro-gu, handed off the laptop to a complete stranger who had agreed to help me send it via company shipment to my father’s company branch in California, and paid $0.
In the end the laptop didn’t end up getting shipped with the company shipment at all. A manager from my father’s branch who happened to know the situation went to Seoul on business, and met the guy I left my laptop with. The laptop exchanged hands, and when the manager went back to the States he acted as courier. This all happened in kind of secret, with no updates from the Seoul guy or the CA branch manager, so when the manager suddenly appeared one day bearing the laptop, it was a total what…? moment for my dad, which continued for him after he opened it to see that I’d used clothing for packing material (what’s a girl with an excess of clothes and no idea where to buy bubble wrap to do…?).
After that it gets weirder. I don’t want to go into details but I ended up not paying ANYTHING NEAR $1000 for the repair. Not anything near it. I found that out on my birthday, which was the best gift I could have received. Hearing that the laptop’s logic board, keyboard component and battery had been replaced at NOTHING near the estimated cost.
The problem was now getting it back to me in Seoul. It took a long time to try to figure out how to send it (valuable object, insurance, customs fees, etc) and in the end Dad ended up shipping it via USPS. USPS “returned” it to him because there was a lithium battery STICKER on the box (not because of the actual battery). But to find out why it was returned and even exactly WHERE it was returned took over an hour on the phone with the post office and even when he got ahold of them, they were all confused as to what happened too. He ended up having it re-shipped and escalating the case to the point where he might even receive a refund for the shipping cost. I’m not saying that would make all of this free… but…. maybe I am.
The laptop reached the Incheon Airport Customs on Saturday. I know this because they sent me a mysterious text at that time. It told me the package had arrived and I had to fill out a request for it to be processed. There was a link to the customs website, but no directions on how to even find the application on the site and search though I did, I couldn’t find it. I gave up at the time (it was Saturday) and decided to ask my coteacher for help when I got to work on Monday.
So when I asked her for help, even she couldn’t figure out what to do. We spent a day trying to figure it out between class preparation and somehow made it until Wednesday before there was time to start calling people. First we tried calling the number the text had come from. But they said it wasn’t the right number to call in this case and gave us another number. After calling that number my coteacher was able to find the form online and help me fill it out. We submitted it and I got a text the next day telling me that I could receive my package within a day or two. Which confused me.
Because this whole time I’d been expecting to get an invoice for the customs tax and suddenly there was no word about it… During this time the mailman had also been attempting to deliver a “letter” from the international mail center during the middle of the day to my home (which apparently I had to receive in person) so I also had to have my coteacher call him and explain that I was at work at 12.30PM on every week day, and to change the delivery address to the school…
So by the time I get the letter, it’s Friday at lunch time. The mailman comes to find me in my office and I have a proudly flawless conversation with him in Korean, open the letter, and see that it’s a paper copy of the exact same application I already filled out online the day before… no sign of a bill anywhere.
Then I get a call around 3PM from the mailman who’s delivering a package. I’ve ordered a pair of pants online so I assume that’s what he’s calling about since he texted me earlier to tell me he’d be delivering it that day. I ask him to leave the package outside the house (which they usually do) and think no more of it until I get home and discover that he not only delivered the pants but also the laptop.
I can see that the box has been opened and resealed by customs because of the re-packaging tape and I can barely even believe that the laptop will be in there, so I’m nervous until the second I see it and pull it out of the box and confirm it’s mine and it’s working. By this time it’s been over two months since the water / ramen accident in the first place.”
As a writer, I depend on my computer. All of my story notes and half-written poems are in here and before I didn’t have it I never even thought twice about the ability to look back on all of that while I was trying to make new writing. But not having it, I would be walking on the street and suddenly have inspiration for a scene from the novel I’ve been writing for five years and then realize that I couldn’t write it into the never-ending Scrivener file and then I’d just store the inspiration away in my mental file. Luckily I often remember story ideas more than other things I file away, so I’ve been able to write a rough outline of that scene already, and I’ve only had the laptop back for just over two days.
While FaceTiming with Dad about this, how nice it would be to get the laptop back and not have to worry about it anymore and the absolute fiasco that went into getting it back to me, he paused and said “and DON’T—”
He didn’t even have to finish. “I know,” I said, ashamed. “I won’t.”