All across Korea, Native English Teachers are sitting at their desks developing carpal tunnel as they madly scroll through website after website after website, email after facebook after email, as their eyes glaze over for yet. another. week. with. nothing. to. do. (Well, it’s not exactly true. I’ve got a whole book to write, but somehow I can’t get into it)
Day after day, alone at their desks. One or two Korean teachers are nearby doing the same, only after two days of duty they get to go home. They say hello in the morning, bring a take-out menu at noon and have me choose something, refuse to let me pay for any of it, barely talk to me during lunch, and then I just leave with a nod at the end of the day. The last two days, however, there was actually a sentence or two communicated. And yesterday and today, a real attempt at friendship.
I’d run into one of the teachers at the toast shop one time after school, and so I asked her the following day and, sure enough, she lived in Cheongpyeong. I suggested we get together sometimes, but I don’t think it registered. So here she is doing her summer vacation duty and I ask her about where she lives and it turns out she left. It was too lonely, living in this little town by herself, so she went back to live with her family. That makes me feel something like glee – it’s not just me! Even someone who can speak the language can’t deal with being single and alone out here! I find out that she’s the Japanese language teacher.
That’s right – a half a year of school has gone by and nobody has bothered to introduce me to any of the new teachers. And you know, I know it’s also my fault for not going out of my way to drag it out of them, but there’s many of them and one of me and even if I do get their names and subjects, we’d still just eat in uncomfortable silence because they’re afraid to talk to me anyway. So a few of these attempts and you just quit bothering. Just like I quit asking that one teacher who lives here when he and the five other teacher he lives with are going to have me over for dinner. One time, he said, “in twenty days,” and that was about forty days ago…
Anyway, this one lone teacher, the school year half over, has offered to get together and go out after school, and given me her cellphone number. She’s actually quite enthusiastic, but I am admittedly am a little grumpy and dull from staring at the screen, the disappointing and huge efforts I am going through with the kitten, and just feeling old, fat, and unloved. She looks really wholesome. I’m thinking beer and smoking wouldn’t go over well.
4:30pm. Another day successfully killed.