A Washing Machine and a Crazy Korean Grandmother

Knock. Knock.

I’m sitting in bed on a Sunday morning, unwrapping the McDonalds cheeseburger that was just delivered to my apartment, wearing no pants, and trying to nurse a mild hangover when I hear a knock on my door. I wonder briefly who this could be, and thinking it is the McDonalds delivery man who’d forgotten something, ask Tara to answer it.

Seconds later a very small, very old Korean woman is standing next to my bed.

“Anyeonghaseyo,” she says.

I stare at her blankly. She repeats it two more times before I realize she wants me to answer.

“Anyeonghaseyo,” I mumble back as Tara appears in the room.

“Why did you let her in?” I ask. Tara had put up a fight. But the small Korean grandmother, in a way only they could, pushed her way past. And now she stands in my bedroom on a Sunday morning.

This isn’t this woman’s first time in my apartment. She dropped by a few months ago to complain to me, in Korean that I didn’t fully understand, that my washing machine was leaking water onto her balcony. I had nodded in agreement during that previous meeting, stopped the washing machine during its cycle, and she left. Tara and I have spent the last two months doing our laundry late at night, after this woman’s probable bed time.

But now she’s back. She motions toward the balcony door and the releases a string of Korean on me. I have no idea what she’s saying, but I guess it once again has something to do with the washing machine that sits on that balcony. She maneuvers past the pizza box from the previous night’s dinner and empty wine bottles next to the bed (embarrassing) and opens the door. I watch, pulling the covers up more and more trying to hide my pant-less state, as she starts pointing to the spicket next to the washing machine.

I glance at my burger and put my pounding head into my hands. I just want her to leave. I want to continue watching X Factor and eat my lunch. My lunch that is getting colder as the minutes pass.

She starts talking again. In a language I don’t understand. Does she not see the blank stare I give her each time she opens her mouth? She begins to pantomime face washing. She wants a hand towel?

I reach out from the bed and grab a pair of leggings lying on the floor which I then put on while she is standing less than a foot away from me. From her expression it is apparent that I’m the only one who finds this strange. Once dressed, I walk to the hamper and pull out a dirty towel. She is momentarily appeased and goes out to the balcony to work her magic on this water problem.

She spends about 15 minutes out there, while Tara and I run around the apartment trying to make it look like less of a frat house, and then comes inside asking for a cord. We don’t have one. She leaves to go downstairs and get one from her apartment and makes it very clear that I am not to lock the door when she leaves. I resist the urge and when she returns I let her finish what she started.

The crazy lady’s finished work.

I pull a fry out of the bag. It is stiff and cold. I down a couple of ibuprofen and look at Tara. She’s getting increasingly angry. I’m too tired to feel and real emotion about the situation. I just want it to end.

The woman comes back inside and starts asking for something else.

“Upseoyo,” I say. I don’t have any. I hope she will take this as a sign to leave. But, not surprisingly, she doesn’t.

And then I hear it. Tara starts yelling for her to go.  She puts on her shoes and hesitantly leaves the apartment while saying something about not using the washing machine anymore. I say okay for what seems like millionth time and lock the door as she finally leaves.

“Is this woman bat shit crazy?” I ask Tara as I finally take a bite of my burger and sink back into bed thankful that she’s gone.

Hours later Tara puts a load of dirty clothes in the machine, dumps a cupfull of detergent on them, and presses start.

Nothing happens.

This crazy lady has disconnected the water supply. The washing machine no longer works.

What would you have done if this crazy lady barged into your house? Have you had any experiences abroad that left you in a state of disbelief? Let me know in the comments! 

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