Friday, December 31, 1999

not happy

[Originally posted at 11:59PM on Tuesday, August 18, 2015.]

My Golden Goose boss told me, Tuesday afternoon, that things were starting to move forward on all fronts regarding my hiring, and this includes the crucial housing issue. The one thing I want to avoid doing is moving twice, i.e., moving out of Goyang City into a temporary dwelling in Seoul because I don't have a permanent place to stay lined up, then moving again a couple weeks or months later once that permanent place has been found.

So while all of this sounds fantastic, we nevertheless hit a major snag, and it's one that threatens to ruin my future: my boss suddenly dropped the bomb and told me that, because he's arguing for me to get a W4 million salary, there's a good chance I might have to sign a contract to work six days a week instead of the expected five days.

I was pissed off, to put it mildly. I felt blindsided and betrayed. Not that I blamed my boss, mind you; he's been agitating for me to join the company almost since we first met, and I get the impression that Human Resources has been feeding him information only on a need-to-know basis, i.e., he didn't know about this problem in advance.

So I stewed as I trundled home on the subway, then at around 10:30PM, I wrote my boss a long email thanking him for his support but laying out, in clear terms, that if the contract is going to mandate six days a week, I'm walking.

I hope I've made my value system clear on this blog, because I know I've said this several times: I cherish my sanity far, far more than I will ever cherish money. If high pay is attached to a deal with the devil, then I'm walking away from the deal. That's going to mean continued financial hardship, but here's the thing: one way or another, I'm going to get my F-4 visa, which means I can remain in Korea as a total freelancer if that's what I choose to do, and freelancers can earn a ton of money if they know where to look.

Another reason why I'd opt to walk away from the Golden Goose is that my boss really is a stand-up guy, and he expressed a willingness to cover for me, i.e., I might be on a six-day contract, but I'd come in for only five days, and no one would be the wiser. While that's a very tempting scenario, it puts a good man in an awkward position because, at the Golden Goose, full-time employees have to sign in for work every work day (there's no machine-driven punch-in/out system; it's just a sign-up sheet). Someone is bound to notice a sustained absence of "Kevin" signatures on Saturdays, and at that point, people are going to start asking questions. How long can that go on before the jig is up? I don't want to put my boss in that bind, so while it might seem like a slap in the face to walk away from the Golden Goose after my boss has spent so much effort to get me on board, I think this is, ultimately, the best way to thank him—by protecting him from scrutiny by the higher-ups.

The temptation to rationalize signing a bad contract exists, however. I could work 10-hour days for four days, then a regular 8-hour day on Fridays, I told myself a few hours ago. That'd be 48 hours, and I'd still have my Saturdays free. But even with free Saturdays, there would still be the humiliating knowledge that I'd been buttfucked.

So that's where things stand. My FOIA request is currently hovering in the queue—not going forward or backward. Still, I trust that my F-4 issues will resolve themselves before my E-1 visa runs out on September 30. By that point, I'll either be with the Golden Goose and settling in, or I'll be looking for work as a freelancer while still doing the occasional KMA gig. (About KMA: if I worked twelve days a month in Yeouido, I could earn nearly six million won a month—close to $70,000 a year, net. But KMA simply doesn't have that much work for me.)

It's all a tangle, with several things happening at the same time. Things will resolve themselves over the next 30 days, I suspect. Tomorrow, I'm sure my boss will write his usual terse reply to my lengthy email—something along the lines of "Relax. It'll all work out; just be patient." I do hope, though, that he understands how serious I am about exercising the nuclear option if the contract turns out to be a bad one.



John (I'm not a robot) said...

Damn. I wonder if your special relationship with the big boss Mr. Y will come into play to your advantage somehow.

What the hell is this Korean obsession with mandatory six day workweeks all about anyway? It's the 21st century for Chrissakes.

I admire your attitude and principled position. There is a future out there even if it is not the one you planned. It will work out.

Surprises Aplenty said...

Kevin, Sorry to hear this. Hope the reality is better than your expectation.

Here in Busan, I have two acquaintances who teach at universities and also write ESL books - well, I would call most of them 'booklets'. You certainly appear to have great lesson plans and strategies; perhaps you could sell books about them.

I think that your main strategy seems to be 'work really hard at teaching' when most teachers want "an automated slideshow that I can sleep through" but that could be part of your secret scheme. You sell your ideas but it turns out that only you can implement that effectively so what you've really done is promote your own brand with other teacher's money. Evil laugh!