Sunday, July 22, 2018
Here is an Amazing Story.
I don't even know where to begin with this one...
Those of you who have known us for more than a few years will no doubt recall the LQA audit nightmare we endured back in 2013. During our ordeal, I got to know many other DoD civilians around the world through our closed Facebook group. I would say that the two largest geographical regions were Germany and Korea, which is not surprising as those two countries feature the largest - and largest number of - bases. Whereas many of us had daily contact while we were 'fighting the good fight', most of us have lost touch with each other since the nightmare ended. There are a small handful of people I have remained in contact with however, a couple of them from here in Korea.
When I was debating whether or not to take the job here, I quickly reached out to two of the Korea guys to get their thoughts, advice, etc. One of them is a Korean-American gentleman who is retired Army and has worked here in Korea for many years both on active duty and as a DoD civilian. He is very protective of his privacy so let's call him "JP". JP gave me a lot of good advice and encouragement while I was debating making the move and once I made the decision to take the job, we made plans to get together once we got settled. I figured it would be great to have a friend here who knew his way around, right? And of course I thought it would be cool to finally meet one of the other LQA victims that I knew only through the FB group since, believe it or not, I've never met a single one. I messaged JP shortly after we arrived, let him know we were in country and we traded cell phone numbers. He said to let him know once we were settled and maybe we could get together. That was about three weeks ago or so and I'm embarrassed to say, I'd completely forgotten all about him with all of the moving, in processing and such.
As you know, we moved into a beautiful place last week. We are close to the base but there really isn't a lot of stuff near us, we're kind of secluded. There are a couple restaurants nearby (the duck one is the only one we've tried) but the saving grace for us is that right next door there is a tiny little "shopping plaza" that has only two things; a coffee house called "Timeless Coffee" and a little convenient store chain called "GS25" (sort of like a small 7-11). The GS25 has been a Godsend for us, it has drinks, snacks, some takeaway food, ice cream, you name it. Before I bought my little car I would go in and ask them to call me a taxi to take me to the base. They speak no English at all but are so completely nice and friendly. The first day, the boys and I went into the Timeless Coffee place so I could grab and espresso and I loved it right away, very cute little coffee house serving all kinds of coffees and teas as well as pastries, cakes and...beer. A few days ago I stopped in for a beer before going to the GS25 and to my surprise, the Korean woman working there spoke very good English. We chatted a bit and she was so nice, I thought "Well, this could become my new hangout as it's the only walkable place I can go to get a beer".
Today I took the family to a movie (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom...little disappointing, I'd give it a 6.1 at best) and Virginia and I had planned to go check out one of the big markets downtown afterwards which is on our local bus line. The kids were fighting and acting up which put me in a bad mood and it was 1,000 degrees so I just was not in the mood to explore the market so I told Virginia that she could just go by herself if she wanted to, I'd drop her off at the bus stop. The bus stop is very close, just up the street from us and it happens to be just after the little plaza with the coffee house and the GS25 mart. I dropped her off at the bus stop, then pulled into the GS25 mart to grab a bottle of soju but it was so hot that I thought I'd enjoy a cold beer first so I popped into Timeless Coffee next door for a Red Horse. The same woman was working so we chatted a bit. I asked her if she was the owner and she said yes. She asked if we had bought a place nearby and I said no, we are renting a place there and pointed to our house. I took my beer and sat at one of the tables, sipped it while I surfed the net on my phone and I thought to myself "Dammit, I meant to ask her how she learned to speak English so well..." Figured I'd ask on my way out when I paid for my beer. After a few minutes, a maroon vehicle pulled into the parking lot and around the side. I didn't really pay it much notice. A Korean guy got out and came into the coffee house. I drank my beer, didn't pay him much mind. After about 5 minutes, he was walking out, turned to me and said "Do you know me?". I looked at him confused and said "Um...I don't think so". He sat down and said "You're new here, right?" I was starting to get a little freaked out that some random Korean guy seemed to know a little too much about me but he told me his name and said he was one of the LQA guys and it finally hit me - he was JP!
We are friends on FB but he doesn't post pics of himself so I really had no clue what he looked like. But, I post pics all the time so he recognized me in a second. I asked what he was doing there and it turns out that his wife owns the Timeless Coffee house! Seriously, what are the odds?! This is NOT a small community. Pyeontaek's population is roughly half a million people and Camp Humphreys itself is home to almost 50,000 people. And it just so happens that his wife owns the little coffee house right next door. Amazing.
Anyway, I invited him back to our place where we spent a good couple hours or so talking about everything from the LQA nightmare to living in Korea. I wanted to get a picture of us to post with this story but as I mentioned, he is wicked private so, sorry, no picture.
Just thought that was an incredible story.