I just got back from a quick trip to Seattle, where I attended my sister's college graduation. (Congrats, Doogal!) That was my second trip to and from the Homeland, over a span of two months. Of course, I had the great fortune to travel during the HINI pandemonium, I mean, pandemic.
Anyone who's arrived in Seoul by way of some swine-flu infested nation will know that shortly after your arrival, you will receive a call from the Korean Center for Disease Control. I've been called twice now by the CDC, and I have to admit, both phone calls were quite entertaining.
SCENE 1: The First Call
When I returned to Seoul in May, I had no idea that the CDC folks were calling all the Miguk-ins, so this is how my conversation went.
CDC Lady: (Speaks rapid Korean, none of which I am able to comprehend)
Annalog: Yes? (I say in terrible Korean) I'm sorry, but I don't speak Korean very well.
CDC Lady: (She kindly, yet nervously switches to English) Um... You know CDC?
Annalog: Um... you mean like the American CDC?
CDC Lady: No.
Annalog: Oh, no. Then, I don't know...
CDC Lady: (pause) Uh... you know INFLUENZA?
Annalog: (A light bulb switches on) Oh! Yes, I know.
CDC Lady: Do you feel any flu or cold symptoms?
CDC Lady: (longer pause) Um... (reverts back to Korean) If you are feeling any cold or flu symptoms over the next seven days, please call your local health center.
Annalog: Okay. Thank you,
CDC Lady: (Hangs up, and takes a shot of soju.)
SCENE II: The Second Call
It is my second day back from the States. A phone call from the Korean CDC is expected.
"Gotta get that-that..."
Young CDC Dude: (in fluent English) Hello, is this Annalog?
Annalog: Yes, speaking.
Young CDC Dude: I'm calling from the Korean Center for Disease Control. I'm calling because you arrived from America, blah, blah, blah.... Are you feeling any cold or flu symptoms.
Annalog: (Trying desperately to hide a lingering cough) No.
Young CDC Dude: Really?
Annalog: No cold or flu symptoms...
Young CDC Dude: Can I ask you one more question.
Young CDC Dude: Are you Korean American?
Young CDC Dude: Really? You don't sound Korean-American. (pause) You sound like a pure white person.
Annalog: (Is unsure whether or not that was a compliment, so she emits an awkward half-laugh) Really? Oh...
Young CDC Dude: If you experience any cold or symptoms, please call your local health center. Also, we will calling you 4-5 more times within the next two weeks.
Annalog: (Thinks to herself, WTF!?!) Ok. Thank you.
- End -
I'm not sure if the CDC rep was simply captivated by my "pure white person voice" or if one of the passenger or airline personnel narked on me, but calling me 4 to 5 more times seems a little much. I told you already. NO COLD OR FLU SYMPTOMS! Cough. Cough. Cough.