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337 Book Café 1 – Part 2

 Gun-Ho was in his car on the way home when he received a phone call from YS Tech's president-Mr. Young-Sik Park.

"President Goo? It's Young-Sik Park."

Gun-Ho used to work at YS Tech in their accounting department years ago. However, the relationship between Gun-Ho and YS Tech's president had been clearly reestablished. Gun-Ho was no longer YS Tech's employee, but rather YS Tech was working for Gun-Ho's company in producing some products for it. In this new relationship, YS Tech's president showed his utmost respect for Gun-Ho.

Gun-Ho didn't forget how he made his seed money in the first place to accumulate his current wealth. The seed money was made when he was working for YS Tech. Gun-Ho always felt grateful for that opportunity and YS Tech's president's generosity in handling the aftermath. That was why Gun-Ho always tried to give YS Tech enough work, and he called YS Tech's president as a brother to show his feeling of closeness and friendliness.

"Oh, brother. It's good to hear from you. How are you?"

"We got another work from GH Mobile in manufacturing a protector for Mandong Company. I do appreciate it. I don't know how to thank you."

"Don't say it. It's not me who decided to outsource the work, but President Song decided to give YS Tech the work."

"If it was not for you, President Song wouldn't have made such a decision. He knows you and I are close."

"How's YS Tech doing these days?"

"We are doing well. Thanks to you. We will be soon reaching 10 billion won for our monthly sales revenue. I feel so happy these days. Let's have lunch or something."

"Haha. Sure."

Gun-Ho thought of those old days when he went to YS Tech for the first time in attending a job interview.

"At that time, I was working in a tiny company-Bangil Gas in Yangju City. I was extremely excited when I was informed of a job interview with YS Tech. I still remember the day when I received a call from the YS Tech's accounting manager saying I was hired and asked me to bring the necessary documents to the company. It was one of the happiest days of my life. The accounting manager's child must be four or five years old by now since she took a maternity leave when I was still there."

Gun-Ho suddenly wanted to visit Bangil Gas.

"Are they still in business? Its owner and his wife were running the company together at that time. I'm not sure if they would still be there. I will stop by Bangil Gas tomorrow after my work in the morning. Yangju City is now conveniently connected to Pangyo and Guri City. I can take that road."

The next day, Gun-Ho headed to Yangju City after a quick stop at work. It took him more than two hours to get there, but he felt so excited to see the place again where he used to work several years ago.

"Here is Uijeongbu City. I used to study computerized accounting in a private institution over there until late at night. I still see the institution's business sign. I guess they are still offering classes. The courses were sponsored by the government at that time."

Passing the Yanju City Hall, Gun-Ho headed to Baekseok Town.

"Oh, I see the sign to Gwangjeok Town."

The OneRoom building which Gun-Ho had lived in was still there. It was a newly constructed building at that time. Now, the same building looked old and shabby.

"The convenience store is still there. I used to buy snacks and soju, and drank alone in my small room and cried a lot too. I was devastated. I still remember the feeling of hopelessness in those days."

Gun-Ho's eyes became filled with tears.

Gun-Ho stopped by Dongil Tech. He worked at their factory by washing plastic drums and crushing plastics. A significant number of drums were still accumulated there and forklift trucks were busily moving around while making a loud noise.

"I used to wash at least 150 of those plastic drums every day with toxic chemicals. Am I able to do the same work even now? I had to apply pain relief patches all over my body including my wrist and shoulders every single day. I wonder if Won-Chul Jo or Suk-Ho Lee have ever worked with that kind of job before. What about GH Mobile's executives or Dyeon Korea's executives? Has anyone of them ever done work like that before?"

Gun-Ho had mixed feelings.

He felt like he heard the voice of Chairman Lee from Cheongdam Town.

'Those hard days in your life shaped you today.'

Gun-Ho thought of going inside the factory for a second and then decided not to. He came back to Gwangjeok Town. Before heading to Bangil Gas, he purchased some cosmetic gift sets for women and men at a store around the township office. He then went to Bangil Gas.

When he arrived in the area where he thought Bangil Gas was located, he couldn't see anything. Bangil Gas vanished.

"Here was a container office where I used to do the accounting work for them. It's gone."

When he saw local people who were working in a chili pepper farm, he asked them,

"What happened to Bangil Gas?"

"They closed their business. The owner is doing another business across the main street. He is running a hardware store there."

"What's the name of the hardware store?"

"It's Eunhyeon Hardware. A dandy gentleman is looking for Bangil Gas. That's interesting."

Gun-Ho parked in front of Eunhyeon Hardware and looked inside the store. There was a lady on a chair and she was dozing off. Gun-Ho could recognize her. She was the Bangil Gas' owner's wife.

"She aged a lot."

When Gun-Ho entered the store, the lady jumped out of her chair in surprise.

"How may I help you?"

She thought Gun-Ho was just a customer.

"Ma'am, how have you been?"

"Huh? Do I know you?"

The owner's wife seemed not to recognize Gun-Ho.

"I'm Gun-Ho Goo. I used to work for Bangil Gas."

The lady stared at Gun-Ho closely for a while before her eyes became widened.

"Oh, my gosh! Oh my goodness! Are you Goo Jooim?"

It had been so long since he heard that position title-Goo Jooim. He couldn't help but smile.

The lady shouted toward the underground inside the store.

"Honey! Honey! Come quick!"

"What! Why are you fu*king yelling at me? I'm so busy here in repairing this crap!"

"Goo Jooim is here! Goo Jooim!"

"Who is Goo Jooim?"

The owner came out to the counter. He was wearing work gloves.

"Hello, sir."

Gun-Ho said hi to the owner. The owner blinked his eyes slowly a few times while looking at Gun-Ho.

"Honey, you don't recognize him? He is Goo Jooim, Goo Jooim!"

"Oh, Goo Jooim! Oh my, I almost didn't recognize you. You look great. You must make some good money, huh? Where are you working now?"

"I was in the area and wanted to stop by to see you both. You both look healthy. I'm so glad to see you."

"Did you move back to Incheon City? I remember you said your father was ill at that time and you had to move in with your parents in Incheon City."

"I'm in another city now. It seems you close your Bangil Gas business."

"Yeah, not many people buy gas these days so I decided to close it. We are barely making a living by running this hardware store now."

"Are you two getting along these days?"

"This woman is still bothering me a lot. She is a major stressor."

"Ha! It's funny to hear that from you, Mr. Stressor. You should feel lucky to live with me. If it wasn't me, you wouldn't have a wife at all!"

"Haha, you haven't changed a thing. Well, I brought you something. I purchased these at a store in Gwangjeok Town. I sometimes thought of you. You had been very kind to me."

"Wow! These are expensive stuff. I've been living with this guy for thirty years now and I've never received a gift like this from this man. And you brought this expensive gift for us."

"Haha. I hope you stay healthy and have a happy life together for a long time!"

Gun-Ho walked out of the store while waving his hand to them. He could hear them behind his back,

"Goo Jooim, thank you!"

"Thank you, Goo Jooim!"

While driving back home, Gun-Ho felt great.

"They are good people, even though they argue with each other too often."