Hometown USA 1990

I was flat broke when I graduated. I had rent and some small bills to pay. I had a smallish student loan to pay back. And, thanks to an over-optimistic view of my immediate earning potential, I had a car payment on a brand new 1990 Honda. I wracked my brain but I could not come up with a way to make all those payments while I was off in Korea on a scholarshipped scholarly trip. In the end, I called my teacher and told him I was not going to be able to go with him to Korea that summer. Bummer.

I had two job interviews in Dallas that summer. Brian was living in Dallas at the time, but we hadn't spoken since his wedding. My older brother, whom I did not get along very well with, was living in Dallas with his first wife (whom I couldn't stand). I wasn't very keen on moving to Dallas.

The first interview was with a customer support company that needed a Korean speaker. I nailed the interview and the woman had all but offered me a spot on her husband's softball team (not a euphemism) when I went in and met the supervisor. He was a young-ish Chinese-American guy. He started the meeting by saying "안녕하십니까"? I responded appropriately of course, but he just stared blankly at me. After an awkward moment he asked me to say something in Korean. I realized he didn't know any Korean other than that most basic greeting so I thought for a second about what to say.

I've always thought that anybody who speaks a second language, or who has studied one, would never ask someone to just "say something." What's the point? I could say "I love silk worm larvae" in Korean and tell the guy I said he was "very handsome" and he would never know the difference. Anyway, I said something in Korean and of course he asked me what I said. Not the most productive interview technique I've ever seen, but apparently it worked to weed me out. I expected an offer and one never came. A few days later, I called and asked for an update. He told me he hired a Korean friend.

I bombed at the other interview in Dallas too. It was the same kind of job at Sprint. As my younger brother loves to say: "hindsight is 50/50." Secretly I am glad I never moved to Dallas.

Back at home I was getting desperate for some income. A friend of a friend approached me with a most random request. This guy was working in the prop department on a film about the state of democracy in South Korea. I don't think the film ever even made it to video, but it had enough of a budget to ask me for some favors...

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