If you've landed on my site looking for the writing contest, it' s here.
My friend is going through a tough time at work. She keeps butting heads with a co-worker. Being a foreigner in Korea you a pseudo celebrity, especially in somewhat rural areas. If you walk down a street where foriegners are rare, you will be ogled the same way George Clooney would be stared at if he stepped into the local Wal-Mart.
My friend, who is like me in many ways, has not let that go to her head. Her co-worker on the other hand, has lost her head. Since most of the work in Korea is contract based, most people in her position stay a year or two, take the experience and translate it into a better job back home. But the global recession has resulted in a number of tenured people. My friend's co-worker decided to stay in Korea for life about seven years ago. As the most senior western employee, and lets keep in my that Korea is a society where the older you are the more respected you are, my friend's co-worker has enjoyed a certain relationship with other foreigners. Along came my friend who is not fresh off the airplane, who is not a spring chicken, and who is quite capable. The coworker has gone out of her way to make my friend's life miserable and the situation has resulted in a hostile work environment. I advised my friend to walk away. She's got a great resume and if she starts looking now, can easily find a new position when her contract ends but she won't.
I recently wrote a post about staying too long. It's funny that my friend is facing the exact same problem albeit for different reasons. I think it's human nature to cling to things that don't work. I think it comes down to being simultaneously adaptable and un-adaptable. We can adapt to our situation, regardless how horrible it is. (Read about Collen Stan for one of many examples.) But we do not step easily into the unknown.
I wrote about this in my short story Some Things Never Change. I will always count this as one of my greatest writing achievements. Jim Gable, the main character, does not change. He is given chance after chance to make a change. At the climax of the story he comes to a crossroad where the simple of act of getting rid of his phone might change his life. But he not only chooses to keep the phone, but to upgrade it at the price of an organ or two. This is how people really are. Given the choice between a salad and a hamburger, most people will choose the hamburger. It's very difficult write a story where the character doesn't change, but instead commits whole heartedly to more of the same.
This isn't advice about breaking writing rules. Follow the rules or don't and everything in between. What you should do is write about the hardest things to say. If you can put words to the impossible, somebody, somewhere will thank you. Now, I'm off to McDonalds, never mind the salad I have in the refrigerator.
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