Thursday, February 05, 2015

To BEL With Love



One of the things I'll hate about leaving Busan is saying goodbye to the Busan English Library. The BEL has given me so many hours of happiness. I wanted to say thank you by donating some books from the Bybeeary that didn't make the final cut of books sent to the United States.

 I gathered up some serious, yet engaging titles -- pristine beauts with uncracked spines (nothing but the best for my beautiful library!) and made my way BELward.

Bybee: [to woman at the front desk] Hi, I'd like to donate these books to the library.

Front Desk Woman: [looks at books with an oh-God-no expression] Donation?

Bybee: Yes, donation.

FDW: Just a minute. [gathers up books and heads for an office on the other side of the room]

[Bybee wanders off to the "New Books". About 3 minutes pass. FDW comes back with a new woman in tow. Office Woman?]

Office Woman: Excuse me! You want to donate these books? [holds them away from her as if they're radioactive]

Bybee: Yes. Is everything OK? [thinking OMG, they don't want my books. Crap. Now I have to haul them back to the apartment.]

OW: If we have don't have a copy of any of these books, we will add them to our collection. If we have a copy, or they aren't suitable, we will re-donate them to another place. Do you understand? Is that all right?

Bybee: Yes, of course. Sure.

OW: Do you live in Busan?

Bybee: Yes, I come here all the time. I have a library card. [Bybee curses inwardly as she suddenly realizes that she left her BEL card at home on the table]

OW: Where do you work?

[Bybee says the name of her soon-to-be-former workplace]

OW: I studied there. Do you know Professor ____________?

Bybee: No, I'm sorry, I don't.

OW: When did you start working there?

Bybee: March, 2013.

OW: I was there in 2012. You don't know Professor __________? What do you teach?

Bybee: English conversation. To freshmen.

OW: Professor ______________ is English Department.

Bybee: Ah, yes. I see. Well, I don't know him.

OW: How long have you lived in Korea?

Bybee: Ten years. [starting to get that sweaty, interrogated feeling. Looks around for the bright, hot lights and the rubber hose]

OW: You've been here ten years?

[Bybee nods.]

OW: How did you acquire books of this quality?

Bybee: Uh, well, uh...I uh, shopped? And uh, I ordered some online? And when I visited my hometown... [sweat pops out in new places]

Bybee: [inwardly] WHAT DO YOU MEAN, HOW DID I ACQUIRE BOOKS OF THIS QUALITY? DO I LOOK TOO POOR OR TOO STUPID TO SHOP? EXCUSE ME FOR NOT BRINGING IN A BAGFUL OF BEAT-UP JAMES PATTERSONS! HOW DID I ACQUIRE THESE HIGH-QUALITY BOOKS? DO YOU THINK I STOLE THEM? YOU THINK THEY'RE HOT??? OK, OFFICE WOMAN, I CONFESS...I'M IN AN ILLEGAL BOOK RING! THAT'S WHY I MOVED TO BUSAN --  SO I COULD MORE EASILY ENGAGE IN SHADY BOOK DEALING AT THE DOCKS! CONGRATULATIONS, YOU WORMED IT OUT OF ME!

OW: [nodding] You bought them.

Bybee: Yes.

[Office woman nods again, finally cracks a slight smile, then turns around and walks back to her office, carrying the books. The high-quality books. Bybee waits a moment to see if she's really dismissed, then staggers over to the magazine section to sit down and recover]

Perhaps the stress of repatriating is getting to me, but that seemed a little over-the-top, even taking cross-culture communication and second-language semantics into consideration.

 I love you to pieces BEL, and I'll be back to visit often before I leave at the end of March, but don't worry. I'm not bringing in any more donations. The next time a foreigner comes waltzing in with an armload, just take the damn books. A thank-you would be nice as well.
 

5 comments:

Sam Sattler said...

Wow...just wow. For once, I am almost speechless.

Sue F. said...

Funny story, but sorry you had to be under such strict observation!

Unruly Reader said...

Yowser!

Dr. kold_kadavr_flatliner, MD, the sub/dude said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Care said...

You poor thing!