I believe it was Thursday, one of the older teachers came up to me with a print-out and said I have been missing from Monday morning church services and that I must attend. I explained to him that I wasn’t religious and that was why I did not show up. I explained that nobody told me I was going to a religious school. And, frustrated, he left.
In-Kyung (yeah, that’s how you spell it) was nearby and she explained how they have been taking attendence and my absence is conspicuous and that I must show up from now on. It is the president’s wish that all teachers attend this service.
A phone rings somewhere, someone hands me a land line phone, and it is this man again on the other line telling me I MUST attend the church services. Again, but louder, more irritated, I explain that NOBODY TOLD ME I was going to a PRIVATE school. NOBODY TOLD ME I was going to a RELIGIOUS school. It is NOT IN MY CONTRACT that I have to go to somebody’s church BEFORE school starts. He went on and on explaining how I MUST attend, how all teachers MUST attend.
Look, I said to him, If I were BLACK and MUSLIM – WOULD YOU STILL MAKE ME GO?????
He says, “all teachers must attend church service, but for you, for you it is optional.”
Later, at lunch, the missionary guy has lunch with me and it once again is THE ENGLISH SHOW at that lunch table, and he is OFFERING OUT MY SERVICES to the others sitting there to take this opportunity of my presence to practice their English. Then, THEN, he starts talking about how he has been missing me at the morning church service. And I sit and stew about this for a few minutes and It burst out of me. You know, that is NOT OK to make me go to that church service. I AM NOT RELIGIOUS. etc., etc., etc., the whole thing all over again. And eyes steely and nostrils flaring, I challenge him with the Muslim scenario again. I see, he says. You should talk with the Vice Principal and tell him your views.
I talk about this with Young-a later, and she shows me the attendence list.
See all these names? She points at the list of truent teachers: on the first day, there are 18 teachers missing, on the second day, there are 19 teachers missing, and on the third day, there are 20 teachers missing. She points to all of the missing bodies that are in our floor’s teacher’s office. A smile crosses my face from ear to ear – it is everyone even the slightest bit interesting – it is also everyone who smokes on the roof.
Don’t worry, she says, they can not make you. The problem, she says, is the last foreign teacher went every time. What a brown nose. (the sermons are all in Korean, for God’s sake – it’s not as if you are going to derive anything spiritual or meaningful from that) For you, it is optional.
So yes, I am a problem child. And yes, I will get in trouble, but I will not be in trouble by myself. I look at her and say, well then, screw going to talk to the Vice Princiapl. It’s my right. I will protest with my feet. That’s all I need to say.