Friday, December 17, 2010

Decision Point

I often hem and haw when I go to my local McDonald’s. Keep in mind, my local McDonald’s is 60 feet from my house and I usually end up there twice a week. Obviously, I have the menu memorized at this point. Yet, when I walk in, I have to consider what I want 87% of the time. If there’s a line, it’s even worse, as I’ll choose then reject a number of possible meals. At a Korean restaurant, I’m even worse. I often spend over an hour at the grocery store. When I talk to girls, I can never get over all of the girls that I’m not talking to.

I avoid making decisions whenever I can. The path of least resistance has likely been what’s lead me to where I am today.

Fortunately, I had a plan. Sure, this plan would force me to choose between a Quarter Pounder and a McChicken from time to time, but the overarching narrative was set. I had a home and a job set up until the end of the summer. At that point, I would go on a 6 month road-trip that would both allow for time to smell the roses along with forcing me to cross great distances in short time. Following that, another year in Korea to recoup my inevitable massive financial losses from the trip. I’d (likely) go home in the spring of 2013. I could avoid major life choices until then. Plus, there was always the chance that I’d get malaria or get eaten by a Komodo dragon before I got to that point.

Well, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by my use of the past and past conditional tenses, things aren’t going to work out that way. On Tuesday, with eight and a half months left to go on my contract, my school shut down.

There’s never a good time for this sort of thing to happen, but this time it’s especially bad. If the school would have shut down a couple months earlier, the weather would still be decent, and it would have only altered my travel (and forthcoming life) plans by a month or two. If the school could have held on for another couple months, I would have saved up enough cash to call an audible and start my trip early. As it stands, I’m jobless now and homeless in two weeks. Also, it’s really fucking cold out. Good times.

So now, I have to make a bunch of choices, and I have to do it now. Here are a few of them:

A - Find a quickie job that starts in January. The best short-term financial choice. On the down side, I haven’t seen too many jobs that start in January, at least any I want to take. I don’t particularly want to be on a January contract either. Starting the Megatrip in January of 2012 isn’t too appealing. I couldn’t take the boat to China as planned, because China would be to goddamn cold. I’d have to fly to Southeast Asia or Australia to kick it off. If I didn’t do the trip, then I’d eventually have to return to the U.S. in the dead of winter. I already tried that in 2009. It was a bad idea.

B - Find a job in March. Because of the Korean academic calendar, there are a lot of good jobs available in March. March is also a better time to start the Megatrip or to return to the U.S. The downside of this, of course, would be the fact that I’d have to spend two bitterly cold months unemployed. I have places to stay, but none involve a couch. Plus, I’ve been unemployed two days now, and I’ve already gotten pretty bored, and that’s with a liberal degree of the drink. If I went the job in March route, I would also most certainly make a trip to Thailand or the Philippines to get out of the cold, and that would cost money. I could afford to do it, but it means I’d have to considerably lower my budget once I’m working to pay for the Megatrip.

C - Move back to America permanently. But I don’t have enough cash to do that. I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t know where I’d live. Total non-starter. This is why there’s never a “C.”

D - Go back to the States temporarily. I could take a vacation back home, find a new job at my leisure, and have the new job pay for my flight back to Korea. I could, of course, see family and friends, and this would be awesome. The downside - America is expensive. I’d have to fly around to a lot of different places, and I’d have to pay for a plane ticket home to begin with. I’d most likely end up spending more than option B. Plus, outside of the portion of the trip that I’d spend in Florida, it would be just as oppressively cold as Korea.

E - Move to Taiwan. It’s warm there. They have better food than here. Like here, they have Costco. It would be an exciting new experience in the way that none of the other options are. Flights to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia are shorter and cheaper. North Korea is no longer a threat, though China is. On the downside - it would be a hard reset. I don’t have any friends there. Because it would be “new and exciting” I would definitely save less money there, making the Megatrip less likely after a year. There’s no Taco Bell. I don’t speak a word of Chinese, and learning to read (unlike in Korea, Japan, and Thailand) would be impossible.

F - Move to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Awesome food, killer beaches, low cost of living, easily some of my favorite places in the world. Downside - I’d make 900 bucks a month or less.

These choices, of course, all have choices within them. Options A, B, and D requires choosing a public school, a private academy, an adult academy, a university, or a corporate gig. Also, I’d have to choose if I should stay in Seoul, move to the burbs, move to Busan, move to a lessor major city, or move to the sticks (doubtful.) Option C involves a choice between Kansas, Florida, Maryland, Chicago, New York, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, and other places. Option E requires choosing a school type and a city in a place that I don’t know much about. Option F is mostly academic, but it would require these same sorts of choices.

Of course, there’s always the Peace Corps.

This sucks, but I’ve seen worse. In December 2006, I lost my first Korean job. It was freezing cold, I was new to the expat life, North Korea had just gone nuclear, I had thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and my social network here was essentially nil. I didn’t have internet at home or a cell phone. Yet, I managed to land in a better situation with higher pay, a bigger apartment, and cooler co-workers, and I spent part of my unemployed period partying in Hong Kong. I’m sure I’ll land on my feet.

Now, to get a Quarter Pounder or a McChicken? Fuck it, I’m hungry, I’ll get both.

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