The sun wasn't shining, the birds weren't chirping and if those weren't clues enough, the too gray morning should have clued me in that it was raining. It didn't. I was resurrecting my workday routine. Vacation over and my not so water proof winter coat thoroughly damp, I hailed a cab. The bus costs about $1.10 and the cab costs about $3.50 to work. While the bus is less than half, it's rather nice to be dropped off at the bottom of the stairs, especially when you've forgotten your umbrella.
I don't know where I came to the notion, my co-workers would be glad to have me back. Granted, three teachers are still on vacation and like only three people were there when I arrived. Nevertheless, I felt like a much loved sofa: expected to be there. In this case, there was my office chair.
"Your butt hasn't been keeping me warm," it said. "Don't you love me?"
"My chair is talking to me," I said.
"Shh, don't say that out loud," it said. "People will think you're crazy."
That conversation didn't actually happen. Rather, I asked, "Do I need to clean, today?" I said this hoping the answer was "no" and it was, or so I thought.
N. proposed we didn't need to clean the office, since this week is two days long. Somewhere along the line, Incompetent Teacher (IT) and Ju started cleaning. M. arrived and demanded, "What are you doing? It's Mariel's turn."
At the present, I was trying to check the grammar of a text from N. We were having a conversation that went like this.
"What's it for?" I asked, pointing at the test in my hand. There was some odd wording and I didn't know if the level was low or high or why we we needed another test.
"For the students?"
"But why are we giving them a test?"
"For their English?"
"Who is it for? What is the purpose of this test?" I could not think of a better way to ask.
"It's for the students? To test them."
Eventually, she told me it was for the special high-level after school class, but it was too late to do the editing because I had to mop.
I did it very irritably. Partly because I was making up for "my week" I missed while on vacation, something we generally don't do. Like I said, IT and Ju had to stop, then Ju took the vacuum, because... I guess I'm not old enough to operate electrical equipment. I don't know. Logic does not prevail in the office often.
What gets under my skin is responsibly shirking (thus avoiding accountability in important matters *.) while taking up power unimportant issues such as, who mops and who vacuums. Anyway, while I was moping, Mrs. Q. decided that we didn't need to clean the office next week since we're only using it two days this week. Not cleaning this week or not cleaning next week amounts down the same thing, sigh.
Anyway, that was the beginning of my first day back, which was mostly good. I had some work to get caught up on, which I mostly did. (And then I ordered some stuff on G-market. I'm a terrible person, I know.) And then I taught three classes in a row and scolded my 5th and 6th graders for giving A. hard time and three of them for not doing the home work I assigned before I went on vacation. I know at least one of the absent students didn't do his because he never does. Anyway, I informed the the class that shall not get to bake tomorrow, much to their dismay.
I wept fake tears to show them my personal inner turmoil; I loath following through on things like this and I wanted them to know it. The little ones laugh and then do their homework. The older students stare blankly, too cool for school. And it's likely that they're embarrassed for me. But they also do their homework the next day, so...
After assigning homework to my last class and sending them on their way, I returned to a weird office vibe. A. has been mothering IT every since he got in trouble for really sucking at his job and so many students wanting to quit. They've been walking home together and stuff and I guess, getting closer, but no so close she wanted to spend time with him outside of work. Earlier. He invited A. and her boyfriend to see a free photo exhibit. She excused herself because she was saving money, among dives and dips of avoidance. He persisted past the point of awkward and I almost felt sorry for him. Nope, that's not true. He has brought the little ones ( many of which have been my students) to tears, pleading with their parents to quit.
When I asked why he hadn't taken any advice we have been giving him over the last six months, he said "I admit I haven't done all that I could have."
Well there's a lot more I could say about that conversation, but lets wrap this work rant up, all these things and more are why we have kittens.
* Last summer the book committee was asked to sign ridiculous waver accepting all responsibility if anything ever went wrong. I agreed to sign only if they limited the scope to book selection and of that particular semester.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and 17 chickens.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018