Chapter 6: Awakening
Jiwoo had a strange dream. He dreamed throughout the entirety of his sleep, but as soon as he opened his eyes he couldn’t remember anything about it.
Jiwoo answered the ringing phone which had woken him up.
“Is this Mr. Jiwoo Ahn speaking?” The caller sounded friendly at first.
“Yes. But who is calling?”
“I see. You have purchased home appliances from Lim Corporation, have you not?”
“Ah, yes. I’ve been contacting customer service regarding that problem, but I never got connected.”
“I see. You will have to pay for it.”
“Excuse me? No, that’s not right. In fact, there were many issues with the contract.”
“Mr. Ahn. We have nothing to do with the place that sold the goods. When you entered into the contract, did you sign it with me? No, you did not.”
“But in order to receive the payment, you have to see if the contract was valid or not, right?”
“That is incorrect. It is not my job to do so. The products are under your care right now.”
“I never even used them.”
“But you still have them. It has been a while since you had them under your possession.”
“Even if you say that, I’m telling you the contract wasn’t normal! I was a salesperson at Lims and the contract—”
“So? When you signed the contract, did someone hold down your wrist and force you to sign it while you were refusing to? That was not the case, was it not? You signed the contract on your own volition. That’s a completely different story.”
“What kind of logic is that?”
“Someone who knows nothing about how the law works, is rambling on about what’s right and what’s not. Why don’t you ask a lawyer then? Not a scammer pretending to be a lawyer, but an actual lawyer. They will tell you that you have to pay up.” The person’s tone became rougher.
“Look here!” Jiwoo shouted, infuriated.
“It would be best if you met your dues, that is, if you don’t want to end up with a bad credit history.”
“Are you threatening me right now?”
“I’m simply informing you. Informing you that if you don’t do the right thing, you can become a credit delinquent.”
“I was just a salesperson at Lims! Manager Seo Jiyeol was the one who told me to meet the quota first.”
“That has nothing to do with me. I’m only calling to tell you what you owe.”
“I am going to cancel this contract following the right procedures. I have come to the conclusion that customer service has decided to avoid and not answer my calls on purpose. I will send evidence and hire an attorney in response.”
“Go ahead and do so. Try your best. Should I give you one piece of advice though? The more you struggle, the more you have to lose Mr. Ahn.”
“What in the world does that mean?”
“There’s no reason for me to tell you this, but it means you will not be able to terminate the contract. There are some issues with the items you’ve received just like you said.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The items, which were delivered to you, didn’t get sent to you because they were newly released products. Seo Jiyeol owned those items previously before you got them. Therefore, they cannot be canceled or returned.”
“Yes, I’m already aware Seo Jiyeol has made a mess of things. He signed a contract to boost his performance. He then dumped those goods onto his employees by making them sign another contract. The truth would have come to light eventually. But he wasn’t concerned since he already made plans to run away. Afterwards, he would simply go somewhere else to start anew.”
“I don’t need to say all of this but I’m doing so because it seems like you’ll waste your money hiring an attorney in vain. If you want to save at least $6,700 in attorney costs, it’s better to do nothing.”
“What am I supposed to do then?” He asked.
“The installment was set for five months. The first payment of 4 million won is due within the first month. Since Mr. Ahn had agreed to it, you’ll have to pay that amount before the deadline expires.”
“Did you say… 4, 4 million won?!”
Jiwoo was about to tell the person he didn’t have a salary because all of the company’s branches disappeared; but the caller said what they needed, then hung up on him. He didn’t even realize they spoke for a long time.
Jiwoo somewhat believed there could be a solution to his problem. But there was none.
Thinking how ridiculous the whole thing was, he called his team leader and colleagues to tell them what he had heard. The team leader then said something unexpected to him.
“That aside, I heard Seo Jiyeol started a new job. He took over as a Director at a plastic surgery clinic. I guess he’s confident he won’t get caught, considering he’s shooting his mouth off even after he swindled us.
“What about me then?”
“The one who called you is most likely right. It may seem unfair, but I think you’ll need to pay it off first. Find out as much as you can. I’ve been looking into it myself too. Ha. But I’m not too optimistic.”
The world was much more cruel and irrational than the 26-year-old had dreamed it would be. Jiwoo’s entire body felt that slap of reality.
He needed 4 million won immediately, but there was no place he could go to borrow that much money.
With perfect timing, he received a phone call from Yongha. His friend talked about trivial things but Yongha sensed something off with Jiwoo without being told what had happened.
“What’s wrong? Why is your voice so weak?” Yongha asked.
“Why ask when you already know. It’s obvious.”
“What is it? Was there another problem?”
“No, nothing else. I still have to pay up because the products are in my possession.”
“I have to send 4 million won by the first month. I have a lot of expenses yet no paycheck.”
“How’s the other work coming along?”
“I decided to go to the labor administration with my colleagues. I think I can get paid there somehow, but the price of the product is going to be a problem.”
Yongha asked him when he needed the money. He said he’d also borrow some money to help him out. However, his friend couldn’t come up with a solution either. He was a good guy, but Jiwoo and Yongha were the same when it came to their lack of capabilities.
Afterwards, Jiwoo called around here and there to ask for help. Sadly, everyone gave him only unfavorable responses.
Jiwoo hesitated several times before calling Chun Kijeong. Before he moved to Lim Corporation, Jiwoo briefly worked at a company where Kijeong supervised him.
During the call, Jiwoo couldn’t get to the point even after hearing Kijeong’s voice. He scratched the surface for a long time.
“I don’t have much time. I would like to hear what you’re getting at.” Chun Kijeong said.
“If you need money, you can simply say so.”
Chun Kijeong asked him how much money he needed.
Jiwoo paused, now knowing what to say.
“I was in a meeting right now, but I briefly came out. Please text me your account number and the amount you require. I don’t know when my meeting will end, but I’ll deposit the money within an hour.” Chun Kijeong said.
“Let’s talk later then.”
A knife held up to his throat couldn’t give him as many goosebumps as the conversation he just had with Chun Kijeong.
He didn’t know if he could really ask Kijeong for such a favor, but Jiwoo had no other choice. He sent Kijeong the text, saying he’ll never forget to repay his kindness and so on.
There was no reply from him. About 15 minutes later, a text message came in telling him to check if the money was deposited. Sure enough, it was.
Chun Kijeong wasn’t someone who lived a comfortable life either. There was one time when Kijeong had gotten drunk at a company dinner and Jiwoo had to take a taxi to bring him back home.
Kijeong lived near a town known to have the lowest rent in Seoul. His unit was a small one-bedroom, down in the basement of a run-down building.
It was unlikely he had moved out of the place. Jiwoo thought he had to somehow pay back his money as soon as possible and never borrow from him again. He thought he shouldn’t disappoint someone who placed his trust in him and gave him a second chance.
Jiwoo was determined to find a job even if he had to lower his standards. He went browsing on recruitment sites. Among the various sites he went into, there were many in particular that were looking to hire Hunters.
He felt jealous and sad at the same time. Hunters made a lot of money and they had plenty of jobs to go around. He couldn’t stop thinking about how unfair life was and why he couldn’t be a Hunter. However, this was not the time to be distracted on such things.
Being a day worker would be better if he wanted to earn quick cash in a short amount of time. However, he didn’t know how long it would take for him to find a job again.
While preparing for his job search, he focused on the places that could earn him money. It would be nice if they gave breaks so he could read some books too.
In his entire life, Jiwoo had never considered himself as someone with luck. But for the first time ever, he felt lucky. His eyes caught onto a position that perfectly matched the conditions he was looking for. When he hit the refresh button, it was shown as a new posting with 0 views.
Just as Jiwoo was searching on the site, a new job was listed. It was recruiting a part-timer for a night shift at a convenience store.
Jiwoo called the owner’s phone number immediately. While it was ringing, he was worried that someone else would snatch the position before him.
“Hello? I hope I’m not bothering you at a late time. I saw your help-wanted ad so I’m contacting you about that. I would like to apply if you haven’t found anyone yet.”
“Oh wow, that’s surprising. It hasn’t been 10 seconds since I posted it.” The person said with a shocked tone. They had not expected to hear a reply so quickly.
“Yes, I just opened the site and the ad popped up.”
“You’re lucky. It seems like it’s fate. Well for starters, why don’t we hold an interview tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow? Yes, that’s fine.”
“Then please prepare a resume and bring it with you tomorrow.”
Hearing the owner’s voice, Jiwoo guessed they were in their mid-30s. They told him the location of the convenience store and the time of the interview, then ended the call by saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Things went smoothly from there. When the owner heard that Jiwoo was a former salesperson for Lim Corporation, they said he would do well. Since Jiwoo’s line of work was persuading people to buy products, a job like this would be a piece of cake.
Jiwoo explained the tight situation he was in and asked if he could work both the day and night shifts.
“You’re going to die if you work that much. You don’t know it while you’re young, but your body is going to be worn out by the time you‘re old.” The boss didn’t seem old enough to say that, but Jiwoo felt no animosity from them.
“Even so, things aren’t looking too good for me right now.”
“Then how about we do this? I’ll find someone to work part-time for about three hours, so rest during that period. People have to take responsibility for their future selves too. If you overwork your body now, you’re going to hear a lot of bitter complaints from yourself in the future. Even if you lose three hours, you’re already working hard enough.”
“Thank you. I’ll try my best.”
With the weight off his shoulders, Jiwoo bowed to him.
Although it was a temporary job at a convenience store, he felt more comfortable than staying home and doing nothing.
Jiwoo was good at memorizing people’s faces. He was able to gain regulars quickly. He remembered the faces of the people who came in once and greeted them amicably.
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