Friday, March 14, 2014

you take what you can get

I'm at the office. Been here since, oh, 3:30PM, and will probably be here until very late—perhaps as late as midnight. I've got a ton of stuff that I want to do, and if I do it all tonight, I don't have to worry about it tomorrow or Sunday. Unfortunately, I have a suspicion that the work is going to bleed over into Saturday; there's just so much of it to do.

Sick of not having an Internet or printer connection, I took matters into my own hands, bought some CAT-5 cable couplers, and routed my computer to a LAN socket in a far-off wall by connecting three CAT-5 cables together and threading them under our team's work-station cubicles. I also plugged in the nearest laser printer and USB'ed it to my computer. Our team leader had set up his own Internet and printer in much the same way, so I decided that, if he felt free to do such a thing, then so did I.

The concept of sharing has gone out the window, at least until the IT guys come in and set everyone up properly on the LAN. It's a bit like the Wild West in our office, with everyone doing their own jury-rigged computer/printer setup. We've been told that it'll be at least another week before the IT guys finally get to our office; we'll be nearly a month into the semester—a quarter of the way through—before even minimal facilities have been set up.

I imagine this all might be a bit of a disappointment for our newbie profs, who doubtless expect better, but part of the problem is the general zigzagginess of Korean culture: nothing ever moves in a straight line here, and in many cases, timetables just go out the window. A Westerner working in Korea must recalibrate his sense of what professionalism means. On the bright side, Korea provides plenty of opportunities to learn how to exercise patience and live in gratitude for whatever does go smoothly. And to be fair, there are things that happen far more quickly and smoothly in Korea than they do in the States.


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