Friday, December 31, 1999

오전 4시 퇴근

[Originally posted on January 7, 2023, at 6:05 a.m.]

My boss and I were with the CEO, tediously working on material for the CEO's Saturday seminar. He's using the materials we created: my boss's video transcripts, article paraphrases, comprehension and discussion questions (I also contributed a set of the latter two), plus my PowerPoint presentation. Luckily, we went through my revised PPT and found several errors, almost all of which I corrected on the spot. The CEO likes our material; he's supposedly seeking new ways to teach English, and his exposure to us is apparently teaching him a lot. From my boss's point of view, this direct exposure is a good way for the CEO to learn what's rumor and what's not. Apparently, my boss is the subject of a lot of rumor and backbiting: he's a Korean-fluent guy who is also stubborn, confrontational, and not very submissive, so a lot of the higher-ups in the company hate him and want to get rid of him. I've met with the CEO only twice (in depth, I mean), but he seems to have warmed up to working with us.

That sounds positive, but it's not a good thing in my book. Unfortunately, the CEO, being a "P" person, keeps coming up with new ideas for things we could be doing, both privately and in conjunction with our company work, and I'm beginning to think I may have slipped into a devil's bargain. The CEO floated the idea that I should privately teach one of his five kids. Presumably, this would happen during whatever our office hours are, so there'd be no extra pay. That's a clever way to get cheap tutoring, and probably unethical (having me teach his family during office hours, I mean)—this from a guy who supposedly has an interest in theology. I should also note that, for job-hunting purposes, one of my deal-breakers has long been that I don't teach kids. Kids require a ton of energy—energy that I no longer have. I'm sure the CEO's son is a wonderful person, but still—no kids.

Right now, my view of the CEO is that, on the outside, he exhibits the trappings of Koreanness, but on the inside, there's something smoldering, coiled, and unsettlingly reptilian about him. There's still been no word as to whether we've been officially accepted as a new, personal, two-man R&D for the CEO. Meanwhile, I still haven't rescinded my resignation—a fact that I think is going to become important in the next few days. I don't want to be sucked into this man's family; all I want is a regular job with regular hours doing what I've been doing for most of the past seven years: textbook-content creation. I might even be okay with making a curriculum for the CEO to teach if I could be promised consistent hours. But consistency is most definitely out the window. The CEO has made clear that he has no real plan, and he's somehow relying on us to give his frustratingly vague thoughts clarity.

My boss and I worked on the CEO's presentation materials for most of the day on Friday (yesterday); we met the CEO at his office at 7 p.m. Friday evening. We did our tedious review of materials, and the CEO suddenly decided he needed even more from us. As the meeting ended around midnight, we were given more things to work on (yes: to work on that same night). The CEO is apparently not good at spontaneous public speaking, so he asked me to craft a set of lecture notes based on how I'd taught him the PowerPoint lesson (I'm not a fan of anyone aping someone else's style—develop your own damn style). I guess the idea is that he'll rely on my notes so he can look smart while teaching my PowerPoint class to an audience of Korean teachers of English (most of whom are not that fluent—an ongoing hagweon story and running joke). My boss was tasked with making alterations to the material he'd created, and so, after midnight, the boss and I went back to our office and got to work. The boss finished first and left around 1:30 or 2 a.m. I was in the office until 4, and when I went outside to catch a cab, several cabs just blew by me despite my waving. Finally, one cabbie took pity on me and carted me to my apartment building. It was a shitty end to a miserable Friday (technically, the day ended today, i.e., Saturday morning).

I want to sleep but can't. You probably know the feeling. And I've got some big decisions to make, probably within the next 96 hours. The boss reminded the CEO that my final day, per my resignation letter, is January 20. Personally, I would have preferred that the boss say nothing. Just let the resignation happen thanks to the CEO's indecision. And at this point, I honestly don't think I want to work for someone who has no larger plan and who wants to rope me into teaching his kids. This is getting too personal too fast.


Charles said...

Yikes. I don't want to tell you what to do--I'm sure you've got your own clear ideas about that--but that sure is an awful lot of red flags. Maybe you should kick the job hunt into high gear over the next two weeks?

The other option, of course, is the stick-it-out option--sticking it out until you have certain employment lined up, that is--but your CEO seems to be a man without boundaries, and I would certainly be hesitant to get sucked into his inner circle.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Good luck. You're going to need all you can get.

Kevin Kim said...

Twice now, the CEO has seen the ragged look on my face (because I do have trouble hiding how I feel) at the end of these long meetings. Through his 눈치, he can see I'm not a happy camper, so he's tried to reassure us that all of this nonsense we're going through now is basically front-loaded, i.e., it's going to get much better—intensity now, luxury later ("luxury" is his word). I'll believe it when I see it... if I stick around long enough.

I think your idea of kicking the job search into high gear is going to be the way to go. I also need to go talk to our real-estate office about arranging a private contract for my residence. I'd rather not move at this point. (My boss thinks it's possible that the hagweon might not allow me to keep my current apartment, but again, I need to check with our real-estate office about how that works.)

Got news that my Korean coworker, our former graphic designer, hates his new situation (he got shunted to a different R&D team) and has decided to turn in his own 사직서 and leave the company.

Not that he had any choice in the matter, but I warned him that the team he was going to was run by a lady who demands a library level of silence in her office. It's a truly toxic atmosphere over there. This is the same lady who, back when I was doing monthly meals for the entire floor, explicitly told her team not to join the these luncheons. Why she would do that, other than to be a bitch, I have no clue.

Thinks are shitty all around, and I've never been a lover of instability.

John Mac said...

"Thinks are shitty all around"

Well, you do have a lot to think about. I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation, but being on the CEO's short leash and constantly at his beck and call doesn't sound very appealing. That said, until you get a better job offer, it may be worthwhile to stick around and see how things develop. Maybe you will have a job of "luxury" after the transition is complete and the CEO has come to rely on you.

Anyway, whatever the future holds I have no doubt you will land on your feet. Hang in there as you find your way in these troubled times.

Kevin Kim said...

Damn autocorrect.