The Message: Don’t Bother
"It’s easier to deny a problem exists than it is to solve it, but you only have to solve a problem once."
I have complained about the poor quality of air in my apartment many times since I moved in. Yesterday I must have seemed irritated and sick enough for my coteacher to take some action.
In the afternoon, she had handymen from the school go to my apartment to look at the situation. Of course, there is no smoke in the afternoon, since the smokers are likely away at their jobs or elsewhere. They claimed they would need to know where the smoke was coming from, even though it was rather obvious based on my descriptions where it was coming from.
After school, the owner of the building supposedly came. I say supposedly because I don’t entirely believe the person to be the building owner. Why would the owner come when there are already designated workers to do different tasks on the building? Why would he come with his wife? Also, when they came, they had no tools whatsoever. They came with bleach and a bunch of other caustic chemicals that would end up only adding to the cigarette smoke, not doing anything about it.
I was eating dinner when they I arrived. The owner’s wife took dishes that I was not finished eating off of. She also emptied the cup of tea I was drinking tea from. She started throwing out items I had on my kitchen table. Rather than let them do their thing, I had to reduce the damage to my belongings as much as possible.
Although I was sleep deprived, the smell was so obnoxious that I decided to go out on a long run. I got to see some cherry blossoms as well and hanging wire frames of people.
This morning I complained again. My coteacher made some more calls. She said last night the owner was angry because my apartment was so dirty. It would have been fair to say the flat was messy, but it most definitely was not dirty. I often keep product packaging and other items most people would throw away to study the labels. There is a lot of Korean to be learned from product labels, not to mention Chinese from Chinese products, Japanese from Japanese products, and so on.
I pointed out that I complained about cigarette smoke. Cleaning the drains does not do anything to fix that problem. I did not point out that I thought she was flat out lying.
I think she simply had some incompetent people come over to clean up my apartment to make it look like something was being done when nothing in fact had been done. The office of education pays a large lump sum to a school that employs a foreign teacher. That sum covers the salary of the teacher, money for the apartment, key money for the apartment (which the school doesn’t pay back to the office of education once the lease is up), and money for extra materials. I suspect a lot of that money went toward the new cafeteria at my school, since the fair market rent of my apartment couldn’t possibly add up to the housing subsidy I would get if I chose to find my own place. Unfortunately, my contract does not give me the option to ask for different housing – otherwise I would have done so long ago.
Tonight, the fan vent in the bathroom was covered. The bathroom is now airtight, and not surprisingly does not smell. The vent over the stove is emitting that much more cigarette smoke now… too bad I would probably suffocate if I covered up the fan vent over the stove and then cooked with it.