Saturday, February 04, 2006

Final Negotiation

This was not my phone ringing but the realtor’s. The landlord of the apartment had a problem. He talked for a few minutes then explained to Ms. Chae there was a problem. She said “Oh” nodding her head back and then looked at me and smiled. I asked as politely as I could what was wrong, and she answered oh nothing.

I took a deep breath. Mind you it had been a long day, I was wet, and tired, and a little disheveled from the all the fun, and really wanted to not ever have to return to the dorm. So I took a second deep breath, smiled and said “He said munjay. Munjay is problem in Korean. What is the problem?” Ms. Chae, I think, did not realize that I might have discerned any of the conversation and she smiled back and said “Oh, it is nothing.” But I pressed the point.

She finally relented and admitted there was a problem. For the amount of junsay I was going to pay on the apartment the monthly rent would have to be higher, but surely that would not be too much of a problem?

I understand that those of you who know me well enough would not consider me to be much of a push over once I’ve got my mind set on something. However there are occasions when I will be very happy to listen to someone else and let them be in control. Not surprisingly, this was not one of the moments. I took the third deep breath of the afternoon and just laid it out. “Ms. Chae,” I began, “how much is the first apartment again?” She asked and I listened to the answer in Korean. Before she could translate, because at this point I understood well enough (as I always seem to do in matters of money), “Ms. Chae, I said again, I know you do not really like the first apartment, but I did. I liked it much better then the second apartment. I know it is only one room. I know the second place is in a more modern building. But I liked the first apartment. It doesn’t hurt that the junsay and the rent are exactly what I want to pay. Please tell him that I want to take the first apartment, and not the second.”

She seemed to take it for what it was worth and translated for him and then they had a bit of discussion in Korean part of which I followed, most of which I didn’t. But finally it was all resolved and I would take the first place. At this point the Boy had returned with a small wad of cash, mostly a deposit to secure the place, not the whole key deposit. I told him about the change and he said okay, and then I realized I might actually need more cash then what he had acquired and sent him hunting again while I finished the Korean version of let’s make a deal.

It all ended amicably enough. The small fight in Korean had apparently been about the rent and Ms. Chae had managed to get the realtor to knock 10,000 won off the monthly cost, which meant my monthly rent would be $290 thousand won. The key deposit was precisely what I wanted to pay so that was not an issue. The only thing to finish up was the realtor’s finder fee, and the deposit. I finally managed to figure out that a deposit of only $100 was needed to secure the apartment, but the first day I wanted to move in furniture I would need to pay $190, this combined sum constituting the first months rent. After some struggle I finally managed to convenience them to take all the money that day so I could get keys and start moving as soon as possible. Finally the key deposit was to be paid the first day I wanted to actually sleep in the new apartment, and that date was set tentatively to the 27th of January. I was happy, and contented, and for the first time in a long time, not dreading going back to the dorm. Mostly because I would soon be leaving it.

Now I had an apartment. Yay me! The upside was unlike every other place I’ve lived in Korea this was a completely unfurnished space that I could furnish. The realization though, is that unlike every place I have ever lived this is the first place I would really furnish from scratch. And it was a place that I did not have to furnish with furniture that was handed down, collected off street corners, built out of pizza boxes, or crafted out of beer cans. This was a place where everything from bed to fridge and beyond would be scoped out by me and me alone. There was a part to this that was strangely exhilarating, and a part that was over whelming horrific. The cost was a concern, but the excitement of being able to furnish my own place soon overrode pretty much everything.

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