4.1 Spring 2022

July 28, Double trouble

For the second time this week, my car wouldn’t start. Now an old pro, I called my insurance emergency English line which sent the same repair man out.

“I jumpstarted your battery yesterday, right?” He asked on the phone.

We’re old friends now.

He jumped my car again but told me I needed a new battery. “When was the last time you bought a battery?“

“Well I bought this car used so I don’t know.”

Looking horrified he called up the local insurance service center and checked the price of a new battery for me while also advising to go there straight away. I’d already been sitting in the school parking lot with the original intentions of using my lunch break as a back workout but quickly scrapped that in favor of this new emergency, because not having a car in this town is an emergency.

I drove to the insurance service center. Unsure of what to expect, I walked into a two door garage building to find a man lying completely prone on one of the pleather couches. He was someone who looked incomplete without a cigarette.

I glanced between him and the unmanned counter, unsure if he was a customer or the one in charge. We looked at each other for a moment and he slowly sat up to take my keys.

I fiddled with my phone and laid on the other couch for not even 10 minutes before he came back in to say the job was done.

He popped the hood and explained that he replaced the battery and checked the oil for me but that I had a problem with the coolant tank, gesturing to a dirty yellow plastic jug with leaking around the gasket. He advised that I go to the Chevrolet service center right away as he was unable to fix this.

The hero’s journey continued.

After paying with my foreign credit card, because for reasons I don’t quite understand he couldn’t accept my Korean card… I went to the Chevrolet service center and explained to a nice man wearing an apron what the other man had told me. He gestured at me to wait inside and I fiddled with the coffee machine, spilling water everywhere.

Before I could cleanup, he came back in to tell me that there were two problems and it would cost upwards of 127,000 won.

Something something coolant tank AC gas. I’m not fluent in cars or Korean.

I figured it was best to get it done all in one day and I couldn’t really know if they were ripping me off anyway so agreed.

The man promised to fix it in 30 minutes so I settled in to the waiting room with the cleanest glass tables I’ve ever seen. Before I’d even had two sips of coffee he came back in to say the job was done.

It was so fast I was skeptical he done anything at all, but when I popped the hood later there was a sparkling new coolant tank.

I did all of this in (broken) intermediate Korean and not once did anyone treat me as anything other than a customer. So despite running around, sweating through my white T-shirt in this heat wave, I felt rather accomplished as both a car owner and Korean learner.

Oh and if you can believe it, between the time I called my insurance company to the moment I pulled back in the school parking lot after replacing what feels like half of the things under my hood, was a measly hour and a half.

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