Sunday, October 17, 2004

EC and crazy people

I'm beginning to wonder whether my language school, EC, is a magnet for crazy people. Not the teachers, mind you: I'm talking about the students. I already wrote about that nut, Miss Bae (see here), but she's not the only alien to materialize at our foyer. There's a fat little kid who's either deranged or retarded or severely jazzed on sugar: he's loud, he's fidgety, he's inattentive, and he makes me want to smack the shit out of him (no, I don't generally want to smack the shit out of retarded people, goddammit, so stop misinterpreting me). On Saturday, this little mutant was practically screaming into his cell phone, apparently talking to either his mother or his sister. Something is definitely wrong with him. He's going to grow up to be an inhibition-free bum who whacks off in the subway while everyone either looks away or moves to another car. I hereby dub him Ritalin Boy. Ritalin Boy doesn't respond well to correction, and I have a feeling he'd like being beaten.

So the crazies are coming our way. EC markets itself as a clinic, and I wonder whether some prospective customers aren't taking the marketing a bit too seriously (you'll recall that staffers have to wear lab coats... and no, I'm still not wearing mine*). Call it the Private School Syndrome-- the idea that one-on-one sessions at a language "clinic" can somehow work psychotherapeutic voodoo on people who've proven to be basket cases at other language schools. I saw this mentality while teaching at a private Catholic school in Arlington, Virginia: desperate parents think the stricter, God-oriented climate of a private Catholic school can straighten their kids out. Little do they know what a joke this is, and the same joke applies to EC. Ritalin Boy has been taking classes at our school for a while now; I can't say I've noticed much improvement in his language skills or behavior, and I certainly don't blame the monster's teachers for that. The fault lies entirely with Ritalin Boy and his adult enablers.

Some of my other students often appear on edge, too. When I try to offer several examples of how to use a new vocabulary word, many of them cut me off after the first example: "I know, I know, I know. Yes, I understand," they say, as if to tell me they don't need to learn a word's semantic field. I suspect my colleagues experience the same problem with some of their students. It goes to show that, despite Confucianistic claims to the contrary, many people here don't actually respect teachers all that much-- especially not in ritzy Kangnam, where, as is true with American private schools, students (or their parents) consider themselves paying customers, and the customer is always right.

Anything goes at EC. I wonder who'll be wandering in next. Perhaps I, the religion student, will soon find myself giving one-on-one sessions to the demonically possessed.

"What an excellent day for an English lesson," my leering demon-student will croak in a multi-throated voice as she sits her pretty self down, eyes yellow and bloodshot.

"Repeat after me," I'll say as the demon begins to cackle and the lights over my head start to flicker.

"What if I don't want to?" she'll challenge.

"You'll do it if you know what's good for you. Now, repeat: This, that, these, those, either, neither."

"No. That'd be much too vulgar a display of English prowess."

"Repeat it!"

"Fuck off, half-breed bitch-boy!"

"The sixth's sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick!" I'll say in a booming voice.

"It buuuurrrrrns!" my demon will yell, writhing in her chair and spewing warm gouts of pus from every orifice.

"Repeat it!" I'll say.

"La plume de ma tante!" she'll rage.

"Then about repeating this-- THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!"

"Aaaaauuuuuuggggghhh!! Unfair! Unfair! Teresa Heinz Kerry sucks cocks in hell!"

"Dude, she's not dead yet."

The demon will pause.

"Oh, yeah."

It all makes me wonder whether there's a such thing as a programmed exorcism, one done over several days or weeks, at twenty-five minutes a session. Could EC be part of some cosmic Flypaper Strategy, attracting demons in order to destroy or banish them? Stay tuned. We'll all find out soon enough.

*I wussed out and wore the lab coat one evening when K, the founder, visited our branch. When he left about an hour later, I took it right off again. There were witnesses to my lab-coatedness, but no photos were taken. (Expect photos soon enough.) My manager, to her credit, hasn't badgered me about the coat. I don't know how much it bothers her, but I remain wary: it's my third month on split shift and I'm being evaluated.

EPILOGUE: The alien Miss Bae left EC, never to return (I hope), a couple weeks back.


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