I allowed myself to meander for a short while along the corridors. I passed by the theater room, the library and then another room. Hang on a minute. I retraced my steps and found the HR room ajar. I peeked and I found most of the employees still in there. It’s gone 6 and they’re still toiling?? I questioned as though the scenario is different from the Philippine office. Anyways, working OT surely has got its advantages. They’re my last lifeline. I constructed in my head the most basic English words for explaining my predicament before I knocked.
“Haaaaaaaaaaiiiii!” with my I ending in my most dang confident wide-mouthed toothpaste commercial smile.
Ten minutes later, Mr Lee (one of the organizers) arrived with a look of relief on his face. After a minute of apologizing and explaining, I went back shortly to the HR room to say thank you to the guy who helped me and bowed down my head a bit as I say goodbye. Wait a sec, did I just imitate their manners? Hehe. That was cute. =)
Mr. Lee seemed to be in a hurry as we stepped outside the building. The dinner, I learned, is just in one of the recreational halls of Samsung. Right, so they all just walked. With my heels clicking on the pavement, Mr. Lee and I started to discuss some things about work. A closer look at him revealed that he will pass for any Korean drama supporting actor. ^^ He’s good looking. I can’t help but think that he has this resemblance to that of Julian’s uncle in My Girl. My desire to inquire if he knows the character is almost overpowering but then I remembered that it’s very hard to speak to him. I just kept it to myself.
A few more steps and I caught sight of a horrible view infront of me that made me clutch my bag in panic. It’s the scanning area. NO!!! No way!! I can’t let them confiscate my camera nor browse through it and delete the pictures. Just what will happen to my travelogue if there ain’t any pictures? I quickly explained to Mr. Lee my dilemma. He smiled at me and told me that we will pass by the guests area. Whew!! That was a close shave!
As we trudge up the stairs, I wonder how I will keep it cool with the others. Of course, I still felt wounded by the fact that they left without me. Lawrence, specially, my very loyal seatmate!!
When I opened the door, I was once again appalled by the arrangement of the tables. The tables were once again divided into continents. I can see that there’s a very long table in the backmost for the Korean honchos and some of the others are already in queue for the buffet style dining. I immediately made my way to the end of the line when Ms Sunmi advised me to leave my bag first on our table. Great! Now there’s just no way avoiding them. As I drop my bag to my seat,
“Where were you? We were looking for you.” Lawrence said.
“I was just in the toilet.” And you could’ve tried looking harder, I feel like adding.
With a skeptical look on his face, a realization dawned on me. Before he could suspect any further, I added “I changed my coat.”
Oh no. They couldn’t be possibly thinking of that way right? It’s embarrassing! I mean, I wasn’t that long to make them think that I made a dash for the loo to do number two, right? Was I? Nice rhyme by the way. Oh no! But if that’s the case, fine!! I’d rather them leaving me than emerging out with everybody waiting outside just for me and I in turn explaining it was for vanity reasons. Fine!!
“Okay. You may want to remove your coat and hung it in there.” Lawrence gestured to the cabinet adjacent to our table.
Removing my coat - the very thought, I shuddered. I was just wearing a spaghetti top with low neckline (emphasis on low).
“No, ‘s ok.” I almost want to cross my hands over my chest as I reply.
Recurring lesson: Trench coats are only meant to be worn outside. Make sure to have a decent cloth underneath. I’ll keep this in mind should there be next.
the dinner arrangement
The buffet table is a sumptuous plethora of Western and Asian food. There’s my favorite seafoods. Yey! Inspite of my skimping for the last two days, I somehow managed to maintain a moderate mixture of food in my plate. It was all going well with nice conversation and Dien’s (Vietnam) unraveling his humorous side. But my stomach did a somersault when I saw the bloody Soju being distributed per table. This is it! This is really bloody is it!!
Everybody was startled when a voice was heard over a microphone. It was Mr. Jung. He informed us that they will demonstrate how to do a Korean toast. All of a sudden, Ms Sunmi plopped herself in one end of our table. She hurriedly poured water on a shotglass and went to the Korean table. Ha!! Have I got an ally here? I was so delighted. But when she came back, she filled a glass with beer, explained that she’ll prefer it than Soju and downed half of it in one swig. Wow!! That’s how women drink beer here??
Somehow I was convinced that I was in the correct table. The Indians reassured me that they’re not drinking for religious reasons. That’s right. We’re all in this together. It’s our toast now and my shotglass is already filled with water. But they’re tricky!! The VP is pouring the shotglass to each person so when it was my turn, I didn’t turn around to face him. How rude of me. But that’s my only option. I don’t know how many rounds this toast will be. So the Korean toast is something like the pourer mentioning some inspirational words and you’ll watch out for the last word which he will utter very strongly and you have to repeat it three times. I already forgot what was mentioned in our table but for the South American it was like “Para Mi, Para Mi, Para Mi”.
and you thought it was Soju, huh?
Mr. Lee sat in our table to share some friendly conversation and I learned a lot from him. For example, he explained the etymology of Samsung which we all knew beforehand meant 3 stars. Three is a lucky number for Koreans and he in turned asked per Asian country what’s theirs. Everybody gave their answer and explanation which made me nervous coz I can’t think of any. Believe me guys, I racked my brain but there’s really nothing I can think of. Is there such a thing for us? It was just a bit embarrassing coz somehow it might give them an idea that it’s the reason why Phils is not improving. Although I don't personally believe in luck.
He also showed us a picture of his sons and from there I learned that Koreans count their age starting from the day the baby was developed in the womb. So, it’s like a +1 for our normal count.
We touched also a topic on Korean toast and he explained that if the one pouring your wine is of higher rank or an elderly, you have to present your glass with both hands holding it as a sign of respect. The same applies if you’re the one pouring for him. Right! This just officially makes me double rude for not turning around and not presenting my glass.
The Europeans seemed to be enjoying the drinks the most. Koreans kept on coming to their table for the toast. I checked the girls and smiled at them gesticulating if they’re OK. So far all of them are okay. Some of the guys emerge to and fro from the door that’s next to the cabinet probably coming in and out from the comfort room. Maybe, I thought, they’re checking out the bowling hall below. Right, I haven’t checked it myself maybe I should go down before another round of toast comes. I was about to shot out of my chair but I was hampered by the sight that appeared from behind the door. My world stopped!
Into the room walks the most drop-dead gorgeous man I’ve ever clapped my eyes on.