Here in Korea, they have service centers where, if your Sony phone or if your Samsung phone, or whichever product you happen to have bought from your local friendly multinational conglomerate gives out on you, they'll fix it. I have a Samsung phone and when I recently accidentally locked it I went down to the nearby service center and took a number. I was the only non-Korean there and after sitting in the waiting area about 15 minutes and having nearly reached my number, one of the receptionists came out and told me, in that adorable, halting, it-sounds-like-a-question-but-it's-actually-a-statement-way-that-Asians-speaking-English-as-a-second-language-do "we will help you in under 10 minutes". Fine...thank you! I've waited at DMVs, car-repair shops, and in every manner of office and have very rarely had anyone come out and let me know how much longer I'd be waiting. Actually, if they did that, I'd think they had a bit of a wicked, sadistic sense of humor given how long I've often had to wait for things and I might have punched them, ha ha. Seriously though......so I do wait under 10 minutes for what is, I'm sure, a completely pedestrian conversation simply asking what is wrong with the phone. I'm by myself though, and so the conversation isn't that pedestrian. It turns into a tortured 5 or 6 minute (actually, I don't know how long it was....I felt the walls of the universe creeping in, time was moving so slowly and there was so little exchange of information) summit, neither of us speaking meaningful amounts of the other person's language and consequently relying on dreamt-up, hoped-for, imagined body movements which we might be able to construe as revealing the other person understood what was being said. Honestly, this was another moment when my lack of Korean speaking knowledge really annoyed me. I could understand a few words she said but then couldn't respond....anyway. Finally however, because the lady couldn't help me too much, she gave me to understand that another company representative would take care of my situation.
So in the meantime, I go back to the waiting area and...well.....I won't say that I'd intentionally harm my phone just to go to the service center but they could really start to change the image of waiting rooms if word on how hospitable Samsung's service center is gets out! They had a machine for making your run-of-the-mill Starbucks variety coffee drinks, they had multiple computers at which folks were sipping their coffees and whiling the time away-one lady looking at dresses, a man looking at directions for something. They had six comfortable leather armchairs, a water dispenser, and a wide variety of magazines (which I ALWAYS read for the pictures).
Perhaps I sound like a naïf to you but seeing a waiting room with this array of stuff was pretty impressive to me. It did, as I said, somewhat take the bite out of, you know…waiting. And after only a few minutes surveying the latest baseball scores and seeing what was wrong with the world via the Huffington Post, this associate came to me with my phone unlocked. Again, and this is not to damn the United States by comparison, but personal care, nicely appointed waiting rooms, and prompt service…seriously, if I want some good coffee, I may just have to try and disable my phone this coming week!