Friday, October 28, 2005
2 "You are a pig"
I made today 'Art Day', and most of the kids loved it. I showed them a technique (drawing patterns over real images) I invented, and gave them my own pencils. Some of them came up with wonderful pictures. One boy copied the Pringles guy, including moustache, and then applied patterns to the picture. Another student combined a knife, a snail and a heart into a very effective artpiece.
I had a feeling, when I was on the phone to a friend of mine, and the director burst into the office and jabbed his finger at the clock, there was going to be hell to pay.
There was. He called me into a meeting (as he is prone to do when the last class is over, and it's the last day of the week).
He told me I must think carefully if I want to keep my job. I said, somewhat ironically, "Yes, I have thought carefully about it."
He suggested I tell him on Monday if I still wanted to work there. He said some parents have complained. Apparently I told a student he was a pig.
This is disturbing, obviously, but what's more likely is a student called me a pig, and then I said something like, "If I'm a pig, so are you."
And then the kid went home and said, "The teacher said I am a pig."
What's quite funny is that yesterday I took a series of photos (totally unaware of the pig-theme in today's lecture) and all feature kids in three or four classes stuffing themselves with chips, dry ramyeon and other snacks while I'm trying to give them a lesson. Someone has apparently lost their sense of humor. Kids stick their tongues out at me, and call me all sorts of names, punch me and kick me, snatch papers out of my hands and tear them or bunch them up and throw them away, but lo and behold, if I say anything, even in jest, then let's screw the teacher.
I'm sure I've said even more shocking things to my students:
Are you a North Korean spy?
Do you like to eat dong?
Why don't you like Japan?
But in the framework of chaos, it's not really that spectacular. I don't think I am working with children that might produce Korea's next President, let's be clear on that. It's more likely I'm educating the next legion of hagwon directors. Yummy.
Anyway, I told the director, if he'd like to fire me, that's fine, but I will still collect my pay at the end of the month. He said he just want me to be 'lovely'. I suggested that I give him a month's notice starting now, and he said, "No no no..."
To make matters worse, I went directly from school to Hongdae and waited for a friend outside the subway. As it happens, tonight is bloody freezing. I think I am coming down with something, because I feel pretty tired and irritated, and the back of my throat feels raw when I swallow.
I called from the subway, told him where I was, and my friend said he was still in a taxi. About half an hour later he was waiting at a Burger King somewhere else.
The Burger King where we agreed to meet has disappeared since I was last in Hongdae. Nevertheless, it's like saying, "Meet me at the World Trade Centre in New York." Okay, if the World Trade Centre is no longer there, is still means, let's meet in New York. Obviously not all people follow the same logic, or we'd have met up. This is not to take a swipe at my friend, but it's fair to say I get annoyed very quickly when people don't listen to what I say. I get annoyed in the classroom, and I get annoyed outside of it. It was also annoying to have the director yelling at me on one end, and my friend not listening on the other end, and I ended up stuck in the middle.
So after hanging around absolutely starving and cold, I decided to call the day quits and went home.
My friend was not too happy to hear I was going home, but then, with half of the night already ruined, neither was I.
I only found out when I got on the subway that Sinchon was just one stop away, but it probably would have translated into at least another half hour, and all the time spent waiting had got me to realise I'd rather cash in my chips and have an early-ish night. That way I can get up and do a 15km run tomorrow.
Feeling glum and chilled to the spine as I walked from Madu's subway, I noticed a girl beside me, walking with wet hair. I asked, with probably a dull expression on my face, whether she'd been swimming. She said she'd gone for a workout at NewCore.
We continued the conversation into my building, up the elevator and onto the fourth floor. Turns out she stays in an apartment just across from me. Small world. Her English was really good too. She says she's majored in literature, and visited Canada for 6 months.
So at least I met one friendly face tonight.