How I know my Korean neighbor

So it’s 2:00 in the morning, I’m skyping with my mom, and this guy knocks on my door. Then he rings the doorbell. I get off skype to ask what he wants.

“Ah, he wants to inspect my electricity,” I tell my mom after skyping her back. He’s come around before, and I either wasn’t home or didn’t answer then. I wasn’t about to let him into my place, though, at this time of night.

A few minutes later, we’re talking, and the door rings again.

Okay, now what is it? It’s two-something in the morning after all. I get off Skype again to get the phone for the door.

This time, it’s my neighbor. I’ve never met my neighbor before. He’s asking something about the door in Korean, even though I told him I don’t speak Korean. Finally, he switches to English.

“Will you open the door?” he says.

“Ah, ne,” I say. Ne means “yes.”

I look around my place. It’s a mess, and the last thing I want is someone coming in. I turn off the light, unlock the door, and open it. Outside is my neighbor.

My neighbor is a tall, thin, just-old-enough-to-get-into-college type. He’s wearing pajamas.

He bows politely, and asks if I speak Korean. I’m scared of telling Koreans I speak Korean a little, but I tell him that anyway. So he starts to explain in Korean.

He says something about English and 8:00 and “a little.” I say I don’t understand.

Again, he switches to English.

“I have English test, 8:00 in morning. Very important. I have to get up at 8:00.”

He’s making a knocking motion with his hands. Or maybe I just imagined that. Because I thought he was asking me to wake him up at 8:00. Like, I don’t know, maybe his alarm clock ran out of batteries or something. But he continues.

“Please could you talk little quieter.”

“Ah, ne, ne,” I say. I shake my head yes and say it again. Seems my friend the electricity inspector must have roused my neighbor with his first doorbell.

Thinking back now, I should have just told my neighbor that my Skype conversion would be good for him, sleeping on some real English right before his test.

Nah, not really. I wish I’d remembered to say sorry, even mumble a “mianhamnida.” I guess I was too shocked and embarrassed to remember anything at that moment. This guy’s future career and his parents future nursing home is riding on this English test, and here I am gabby away in the room next door.

Anyway, after living here for eight months, that’s how I know my neighbor. I’ll have to buy him a present or something for Seollal, and say I’m sorry.

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