I just had a zany, I Love Lucy-esque episode on a trip to the bank.

For those of you not in South Korea, going to the bank can be quite  an ordeal.  First of all, banks close at 4 o’clock every day, although teachers don’t get off work until 4:30.  Therefore, you have to ask your boss if you can leave early, sign out, come back when you’re done, catch buses, etc.  Then when you get there, you have to remember to bring certain documents with you – this is something I always have a problem with.

I used to ALWAYS forget those documents.  They aren’t necessary, but they have all the information that the banker needs, so if you bring it, everything happens a lot faster.  Each time I’d show up, my banker (his name is Gwun Yoon Song) would look at me and say, “Did you bring your papers?” and I’d always say, “Oh shoot!  I forgot!”  and then he’d say, “DON’T FORGET NEXT TIME!” and start rummaging around for a picture of my passport that he KEPT IN HIS DESK because he realized after the first two times that I always forget my information, and this helped him retrieve it from his computer.

Anyway, last time I went Yoon Song was busy and this security guard was all, “Korean-Korean-money exchange?” and I was like, “Yeah!” and he had me go sit with this lady, and about halfway through I remembered that I didn’t want my money exchanged, I wanted to transfer it.  So when she started handing me wads of American dollars, I had to start trying to explain to her that I made a mistake.  She didn’t really speak English, so luckily Yoon Song came over and was like, “I heard you tell her you wanted to exchange!” and I was like, “Yeah, I know, I’m an idiot, PLEASE HELP ME.”

And then he was like, “Did you bring your documents?” and I looked at him and smiled impishly and he rolled his eyes and went looking for his copy of my passport.

Okay, so today I go in and he’s sitting there working and I’m like, “HEY, can you help me?” and he sighs and smiles and beckons me over.  So, Yoon Song is pretty cool.  One time he told me that told me he watches “Gossip Girl” but he wasn’t sure if he should use the phrases from that show because he never hears Americans actually talk like that, and I reassured him that nobody does.  Unless they actually do talk like that on the Upper East Side, but I kind of doubt it.  He has really great English – he’s basically fluent, and he also told me he just learned in school and then from watching movies.  So we can talk together easily, except his face always looks like this:

He doesn’t look like a cat, he just always looks totally unimpressed with anything I say or do.  He’s a younger guy and he told me he wants to know more foreigners.  He’s also married,  just for some background.  I can’t believe I know this much about a guy I’ve only spent about a total of an hour with over the course of 6 or 7 bank trips this year.  Anyway.

I walk in today and he beckons me over and he gives me the look and I say, “I remembered my documents today!” and handed them to him.  He cracked the tiniest smile and starts processing the paperwork while we chat about how our days are going, about my trip to America next week, etc.  Then he pops my Bank Card into the machine and he’s like, “Put in your six digit password.”

I couldn’t really remember it because in the past, when I didn’t remember my documents (like, every time except once or twice), he just used my passport copy and we bypassed this step.  So I thought for a second and quickly punched some numbers in that I know I’ve used before for a password.

“That’s not it, try again,” he said, looking at his computer.

“Ummmmm….k.” deet-doot-deet-deet-deet-doot

“No, that’s not it either.”  He looked at me, shaking his head and smiling almost imperceptibly.

“Hold on,” I said and pulled out my bank passbook to see if I had stupidly (but at this point, very conveniently) written it inside.

“You have your BANK BOOK?” he exclaimed, plucking it from my hands.

“Yeah, why?”

Now he’s laughing.  “Because if you have your bank book we don’t need your six digit number!  Why didn’t you tell me you had this?”

That’s when I started laughing too.  “Because obviously I’m an idiot when it comes to going to the bank.”  He didn’t object as he put my passbook into his machine.

We waited for a second, then he sighed and looked at me.

“Is this your only passbook?”

“…No.  I have another one.”

He was looking EXTREMELY unimpressed, slightly entertained.  “Did you lose this one and get another one?”



He pulled the book out and puts it on his desk.  “I don’t think I have your passport copy here anymore, let me look.”  He starts rummaging through stacks of paper in, around, and under his desk, but finally comes back empty handed.

“Do you have any other ID with you?” he asks.



“No?!  No Alien Registration Card?”  We foreigners ALWAYS have our ARC with us.  Except-

“No, I had to go get a new visa and they took it.”

He just sits there and stares at me, his face totally like this

“Wait, I think I remember my password…”

He pushes the machine over to me, completely skeptical as I make my one, last ditch effort to get my money transferred.

“Wow, it worked,” he finally says after a long pause.

“I think you hate me,” I said, but he reassured me that he does, in fact, like me, because a lot of foreigners just come in, do their business, and don’t chat with him.  Good dang thing he likes me, because I think he DEFINITELY would have hated me after today.