Tuesday, July 14, 2015


My boss at the Golden Goose is on vacation, so it's just me and my coworker in our quiet corner office. I normally get my marching orders in the morning from my coworker, then I chug along either until the end of the day or until I finish my task and need new orders. Today, Mr. Y, one of the big bosses, popped into our room and abruptly asked me to do some proofreading for him. In typical Korean fashion, he didn't apologize for interrupting whatever I'd been working on; he didn't ask whether I was busy; he didn't show that he even cared that I might be occupied. There was no, "Okay, just finish this part of your task and then come see me." He simply asked me to do this thing for him, and that was that.

The thing Mr. Y wanted was proofreading for a TOEFL class that he (or someone) was going to be teaching. And he wanted it done in ten minutes. So after Mr. Y left, I shrugged, sighed, and got down to it. I probably went a bit over ten minutes, but I was definitely done proofing in fifteen. Mr. Y and I went over my corrections like Talmudic scholars puzzling over a crucial tractate, and when we were done, Mr. Y declared that he had twelve files for me to do for him: four this week, four next week, and four the week after. I admit I hesitated when I heard this, and Mr. Y, trying to be reassuring, said, "Don't worry—just take these home and do them there." He wanted the first four files done by the morrow.

We never discussed pay.

At the behest of my coworker who, like me, didn't want to see me get used, I emailed my boss about the situation. I stated, quite frankly, that I wasn't going to do any extra work for free. The boss was amenable to this notion and told me to be sure to log my working hours. He also said something that I hadn't thought about: Mr. Y is going to be instrumental in whether I get hired full-time or not, so this whole thing may have been one big test to see what I'm capable of. If that's the case, then I think that, so far, Mr. Y likes what I've done—not least because I finished the first four files before close of business today instead of by tomorrow morning. Of course, if he starts poking holes in my work because I was sloppy, then that's going to reflect badly on me, and I might not end up with this nifty Golden Goose gig after all. But I'm pretty sure I did a decent job without being sloppy.

I'm on vacation, so a little extra work isn't a bad thing. Had I been saddled with a teaching schedule, I would probably have said no to Mr. Y's sudden pile of proofing. If this nets me a couple hundred more bucks, though, I won't complain.


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