Sunday, February 27, 2005

next stop: PC-bahng!

My boss, Imelda, is a strange, strange bird.

This woman fired one of my co-workers, then attended the goodbye party. Is psychosis in the job description for all hagwon bosses? She also attended another co-worker's goodbye party, but she knew she wasn't wanted and ended up leaving early.

The staff is having an "event" on Monday evening, after we're done at 10PM. I suspect it's a goodbye party for me (hell, I know it is), but to be honest, I can't stand ceremonial goodbyes and have every intention of leaving the gathering within a half-hour. Nothing personal against my co-workers, all of whom I like, but the whole thing feels awkward, and since I don't drink, it won't be une nuit bien arrosée for me-- nothing to blunt the awkwardness. It's best to leave the partiers with their spirits... Besides, at such events I usually make people glum when I sit there, uncommunicative, gripping a Coke and pretending I'm a sullen, yellow-skinned "Sin City" extra.

So I'll be calling a moving service tomorrow (Sunday), giving my itty-bitty place a final cleanup (especially that freaky mold on the wallpaper in the corner by the foot of my bed), and moving the hell back to the north of Seoul, where I can enjoy the delights of Korea University three stops to the west, and the even greater delights of Seoul Women's University three stops to the east.

It's been a rough several months. Last year, I got booted out of my old place by my Adjoshi because he wanted to renovate the building. I ended up in a tiny hasuk for two months, and the planned renovation never happened. Then I joined up with EC, and they stuck me in a studio that wasn't much bigger than my hasuk. The problem there wasn't so much the size of the room (and I was quite happy to have a real bed again, after two years on hard floors) but the fact that I was slated to be there for only a short time. I was unable to unpack for three months, as it turned out, and this thoroughly pissed me off. Then, when it came time to move to my soon-to-be-former residence, I got almost no help from staff, after promises of help.

By 10PM on Monday, I will have worked at EC for seven months and one week. I will have spent three months at one residence and four months at another. Over a period of nine months, I'll have moved four times:

1. Out of my Jangui-dong residence and into the hasuk.
2. Out of the hasuk and into my first EC-provided studio.
3. Out of the first studio and into my "permanent" EC studio.
4. Out of my "permanent" EC studio and back to my old Jangui-dong residence.

It's amazing I'm not firing people and attending their goodbye parties. With that much moving going on, sanity starts to fray.

Of course I jest. Lest the Smallholder mislabel me as angst-ridden again, I'll confess that the situation isn't nearly as bad as all that. I'm still plump and healthy, and not really that stressed. I've even got some money now-- something I didn't have last year, when I was literally living paycheck to paycheck (or, more precisely, white envelope to white envelope).

One big bifference between the Kevin of 2005 and the Kevin of 1995 is that I'm no longer an angry young man, bent on suing the shit out of people. This time around, I saw a bad situation beginning to coalesce at EC, and took steps to extricate myself before the shit truly hit the fan. That's the major reason why I'm not stressing: I know myself better now, and I have a better understanding of the tricks hagwons pull.

I'm still keeping my expectations low for EC: they could, in principle, cheat me out of several hundred thousand won, as well as make problems for me with Immigration. If it happens, I won't be surprised or deeply upset; I'll simply take appropriate measures, whatever that might entail, up to and including the judicious use of a fireman's axe if need be.

So my ass is out of here. I'll be blogging from PC-bahngs for the next few days; you won't notice any difference.

Bye, cool residence. If I take the Cheongdam job, I might be able to come back to this neighborhood with key money, and rent out a much nicer place. One thing I can't stand about my Adjoshi's apartment is how old, run-down, drafty, cold (hot in summer), and moisture/mold-prone it is. On the flip side, it's a great place to find big, kick-ass centipedes.


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