I looked at the subway map for the place she told me. It was right at the end of one of the lines. I lived in the middle of the city. Not quite downtown, but close enough. This place was twenty-nine stops away. Two transfers. And then a bus journey. I got really pissed off. I swore at the computer. I almost picked up my phone and told her to stuff it. In a polite way with a perfectly believable excuse of course. My dog had died. I got food poisoning. My real job had called me into work. But I didn’t make an excuse. I thought about the money and how it could make Patti smile.
I thought about taking a cab. A little treat to myself, what with it being a Saturday morning and all. But the price it would come to would probably mean that I had worked all those hours for the privilege of riding in a cab. I liked cabs, but not enough to work six hours on a Saturday just to take one.
I decided to ride the subway all the way out there. There was another dude called Paul who I met at the last one of these presentations that was coming along with me. I liked him. We met at the station.
“Dude, did Maria pay you everything she owed you last time?” he asked, swaying from side to side in the subway. Even at this time of the morning, on a Saturday, we couldn’t get a seat.
“I don’t know. I think so. We didn’t discuss specifics. Koreans don’t like to talk about money too much.”
“Yeah man! I feel that. I think she undercut me.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised. How much did you get?” I really wanted to know. I knew how much I got. I knew he didn’t get as much.
“100,000.” Now that sounds a lot more than it is. It’s like $90.
“Yeah, I got the same” I lied. I got 200,000. But I did do a lot more work.
I asked him what we would be doing today. He said he didn’t know. It was some religious school. We would be doing the same old thing probably. Teaching Korean kids how to give presentations and then watching their rushed, botched presentations. Paul dealt with content. I dealt with public speaking. I’d been a comedian for a few years back in London, so I knew how to keep a room full of people engaged. In theory at least. Paul had worked for some kind of telecommunications company back in the US. He had prepared presentations for guys like me hundreds of times. Between us, we knew what we were doing. But, on this Saturday heading out to the boonies in Seoul, we didn’t have a clue.