Jack was one my foreign co-workers from back in the days when I was working an office job in Seoul, South Korea. Jack was one of those guys that you loved to have out drinking with you. Mainly because Jack was always one step away from a drunken fiasco. To give you an idea of the kind of guy Jack was, he once walked into a bar where I was drinking with a couple of coworkers, ordered a beer and then began to impart this piece of wisdom: Never get into a nut kicking contest with an Aussie. I really can’t make this shit up. Apparently, he had just come back from drinking with an Aussie who had suggested that they take turns kicking each other in the nuts like on that episode of South Park. Despite being drunk enough to think this was a good idea, he did at least have the presence of mind to insist that he kick first, but, after two rounds, he still walked away the loser, which is mind boggling.
One night, we’re all out drinking and myself, another coworker and Jack have a quick drink and go our separate ways. This wasn’t uncommon since they had been in country longer than I and we all had our own little groups to hang with. I roamed around the area with some other friends and ended up at my house and called it a night early, let’s say around 4 AM-ish. The next day, I called my coworker and we talked briefly and decided we would take the weekend to relax and recover (something that in and of itself was rare). We both tried calling Jack but his phone was dead, which wasn’t rare, and we didn’t think much of it.
The next day, a Sunday if memory serves, I get a call from a female coworker and mutual acquaintance, Jill, who tells me I should get to the local hospital as soon as I can. All she says is, “Jack is about to go into surgery.” My jaw dropped. What the f— had happened? I called the other coworker from that night and immediately told him what I had just heard, and we both met at the hospital. What we saw we were totally not ready for… There was Jack, in bed, a metal wire cage around his arm, bandaged up head to toe, clearly in excruciating pain.
On our next visit, he was a bit better and could actually piece together the night and explain what had happened… AS it turned out, Jack had left our little powwow and decided to get drunk as was his usual practice. Right around 3 AM, he decided that it would be a great time for a stroll around the neighborhood by himself. You know, self-reflection being the thing to do those days. There he was, walking around and as he was passing a building in his neighborhood, he decided, why not go to the roof and check out the night sky?
So he gets up on this building through the stairwell and at some point, he passes out. When he wakes up, it’s barely dawn and it’s literally freezing cold. He walks to the door for the stairs and it is locked from the inside. He starts banging on the door and making as much noise as possible. No one answers. He gets annoyed, probably because he’s still drunk and the telltale signs of a hangover loom in front of him. He looks around the roof and sees a vent going down the side of the building and as far as he can tell, it goes almost all the way down the side of the structure. Exercising excellent judgment, he begins climbing down the chute using his arms and legs for grip on the outside of the vent.
As he’s going down this vent Call of Duty style, he begins to feel fatigue creeping into his arms. He looks down at the ground, but he isn’t close enough to jump without getting seriously hurt. Then he looks up and he knows he doesn’t have the strength to get back up the vent because he’s already come too far. As he’s holding the vent with a death grip he feels his hands start to weaken and he falls backwards and lands 3 stories down in the empty parking lot next to the building. Everyone tells him it’s a miracle that he’s alive. He’s shattered his wrist and arm, three vertebrae in his back and sustained several contusions around his body. At this point he’s yelling for help and luckily someone hears him and calls an ambulance.
So I hear this story and I am amazed. All of us on the foreign staff are there and he looks at us square in the eyes and says, “I’m never having another drink again. Weed maybe, never alcohol.” We all have a laugh and tell him our prayers are with him as he begins his long road to recovery.
But then one of our other co-workers chimes in and says, “Jack, how many times have you gotten drunk?” Jacks says hundreds of times. Then he asks, “How many times have you broken your back?”
“Once,” he says.
“And how many times have you tried climbing down a building?”
“Once,” Jack says again.
“Well, maybe climbing down buildings is the real problem here,” the co-worker concluded with the kind of drunken logic that is so pervasive in Korea’s expat community.
Several months later, Jack is able to walk again after several surgeries and extensive physical therapy. We’re all happy to see him back in action and hope he can come back to work soon. Up until that point he had been working from home since, obviously, his condition wasn’t conducive to him sitting in a chair for 8 hours a day cooped up in an office.
Anyway, so there I am, walking around one day and I see Jack in front of a Family Mart (the Korean equivalent of a 7-11 in the States) wearing his back brace and with a beer in his hand. I walk up to him and ask him, “What the hell are you doing?” He looks at me and, without missing a beat, says, “Dude, it’s only a beer.”
Side Bar: The Real Life Adventures of Jack and Jill is an ongoing series of drunken and/or embarrassing stories published under the pseudonyms Jack & Jill to protect the anonymity of those that have experienced these hilariously tragic faux pas firsthand. Have an funny, drunk or embarrassing story you want to share but don’t want to put your name on? Submit to us and let Jack and Jill take the heat.