Friday, December 23, 2022

implications of a new job for distance walking

I did begin to notice a tiny bit of heel pain from all my shuttling back and forth yesterday. That's annoying, but not surprising: it hasn't quite been 8 weeks, yet, since my 20K walk to Guri-si in early November, and plantar fasciitis needs 8-12 weeks to heal. I thought I might try a distance walk right after Christmas, but I'll wait until mid- to late January before I stretch my legs properly. There are things I can do in the interim, like my building's staircase. Staircase work could put a strain on my heel, but the actual activity lasts no more than 20-30 minutes if I get to a point where I'm doing 26 floors twice. (Three times up the stairs would take closer to 40 minutes.) I could also bike whenever the paths are clear.

But in thinking longer term, I know that the one major benefit I'll most probably be losing, when I leave my current job, will be the ability to take a whole month off to walk. Were I to get a university job, I'd have about four months off per year, but they'd be the wrong months for walking. Normally, in a Korean university, your winter vacation goes from mid to late December to the end of February or to the very beginning of March (the winter/spring semester starts in the first week of March, but there might be late-February staff meetings before the start date). Summer vacation generally starts in June and goes through most of August or right up to the beginning of September (possible staff meetings in August). Winter and summer are terrible times for distance walking, an activity that's ideal for spring and fall, where your worst worry (at least in Korea) might be rain. If I were to get a uni job, one possibility would be to go walking somewhere like parts of Canada or northern Europe—latitudes that would be relatively pleasant during the summer. Even Scotland might be a possibility, although I'd have to see what Scotland's climate is like during the summer (if it follows the stereotype: rainy, misty, and generally gloomy*). It's at a much lower latitude than Scotland, but Switzerland isn't horrible during the summer because it's a landlocked country, meaning there's little to no ocean-based humidity. Anyway, distance walking could theoretically continue during the summer—just not in Korea.

But what if I end up in another office job—one without a lenient boss? I've talked to plenty of Koreans, on my treks, who have expressed envy at the idea that I could take a month off to walk. And it's true: aside from the ridiculously long vacations that come with a uni job, most corporate work in Korea means no more than two weeks of vacation per year. The rest of the year is the grind, which in principle means a 40-hour week, but often means putting in overtime. Whether that overtime is paid probably depends on the job. In many Korean businesses, the overtime you put in is expected: you join the company, you help the company. Extra work is not supererogatory (over and above), and the bosses are always watching to see who's showing the most zeal for the company. So joining a regular company in Korea probably means no more month-long distance walking. Not doing a month-long trek every year would deeply alter the course of my life, which changed radically in 2017 when I did my first trans-Korea walk. Going back to a normal, bland life of no big accomplishments would be depressing... at least until I figured out what else might count as a Big Accomplishment.

Changing jobs is going to be majorly disruptive no matter how you slice it. I'm sure I'll figure out something to do, though. I don't have much choice.


* says: "June, July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with average maximum temperatures ranging from approximately 15°C (59°F) to 17°C (63 °F). Scotland's high latitude means that we enjoy lovely long summer days and often an extended twilight." That sounds quite good. And I wouldn't mind hiking through mist, if it came to that. So Scotland's got none of that 80º-90ºF bullshit going on during the summer. My other major worry would be the insect situation (with Charles's hiking experience on one part of his route serving as a warning to others). There are plenty of other worries besides, of course (traffic, lodging, etc.), but I can deal with those as they occur to me.


John Mac said...

Is changing your mind and withdrawing your resignation an option? Sometimes the job is just a means to an end--you don't get satisfaction from the work but rather from the freedom it provides to do what you truly enjoy.

Just a thought. Of course, you may find a better job that gives you both.

Kevin Kim said...

I'd withdraw my resignation if I knew I'd be with the same boss and the same team, but that's looking highly unlikely, so I'm over 90% sure that I'm out the door. Even if there was a promise of the same boss and the same team, I'd likely still walk because this stupid shit happens every year or two, and it's just the CEO on a power trip. A man can take only so much nonsense before it's time to walk away.

Charles said...

Scotland is fine in the summer. As you saw, the temps don't get too high (it can even get chilly!), and the weather isn't that bad. One thing that can get bad in the summer is the Highland midges, which I somehow did not encounter on my walk (the insects I did encounter were flies, not biting, blood-sucking midges). Some good insect repellent can help with that, though.

Otherwise, the weather is generally fine--even what they consider "heavy rain" in Scotland is tame by Korean standards. Just be prepared for mud. There is a lot of mud along the way. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance. In fact, I'm in the very early stages of planning a round two with my brother a few years down the road.

Kevin Kim said...

I'll watch out for the midges, then, if I should find myself in the Scottish Highlands.