Sunday, November 19, 2006

Korean Whispers

I was trying all week to come up with something to follow the previous trinity of entries. Then, as if by divine intervention, (or spiritual punking), it was thrust upon me. I was at work on Thursday and I stepped up to the lectern at the front of the class in room 403 and while putting my briefcase inside noticed a stainless steel coffee mug that had been left by another teacher. I went out into the hall and talked to the only other teacher I could find. I asked him if he had lost his coffee mug. He gave me the thousand mile stare I have become so accustomed to from the students. So I downshifted into studentspeak. "Your, (exaggerated point to him), coffee mug, (sipping coffee gesture). Did you leave it in room 403, (exaggerated point to room 403) ? Still nothing. "YOU, (point), coffee, (sipping gesture), cup? I knew he had to get it this time cuz "coffee" and "cup" are pronounced almost the same in Korean. He still didn't get it. He reached behind him to a stack of paper coffee cups on the desk in his office and offered me one with a questioning noise. So I walked back to room 403 and got the cup. I showed it to him and asked "Your, (point), cup?" He finally understood. He stopped a passing student, who happened to be my best student, whose nickname is Chat Blanche, (which is French for "white cat", I know, (don't ask me to speculate on the processes my students use for choosing nicknames)). The teacher gave the cup to Whitecat and in Korean ordered him to find its owner then smiled at me like he had done something I couldn't have done.

I thanked him anyway. He continued to smile. I looked around. He smiled and lingered. I feigned interest in a poster on the wall advertising an upcoming make-up, hair and nail painting show at the school. He continued to look at me and smile. I was just about to check if my fly was down when he suddenly said, "Do you remember I drive you to bus station?" He had never driven me anywhere before so I said no. He then said, "You are David?" There are 4 ESL teachers at the college where I work. Two of them are named David. STOP naming your kids David people for the love of God! I said, "Oh, you must mean the OTHER David." Then I had a fun time explaining that there are two Davids. Luckily Whitecat was there to translate. So the teacher says, "You VERY resemble!"

The other David is drastically overweight and because of that more than anything, (probably), he has bad knees and walks with a cane. He can't make it up a flight of stairs without stopping to catch his breath and rest his knees. Not only that, he has a full head of RED hair, no beard, and he looks almost nothing like me. I don't claim to be in good shape but at least once a week I go for a 6 km. walk/run, sometimes 2 or 3 times a week! I make it up to the 4th floor every day without stopping. I am NOT as fat as the other David. And I don't much look like him either.

Basically the teacher was saying, "All you honkeys look the same to me." Like Peter from Family Guy when the family is on the lam in Asia town after springing Lois from prison. Did you see that one? There are Korean, Chinese, Japanese signs all over. And Peter is saying, "Hey it's Jackie Chan! Look it's Jackie Chan. What do you know! Jackie Chan!" to every passerby. That scene flashed through my mind. But I was prepared to let it slide. It's the Buddhist temperance I have developed from being here so many years. Things would have been fine if the teacher had left it at that. But Koreans rarely do. He says, "You very resemble! You both fat! Canadian all fat?"

Mantra! Mantra! Find your happy place. Focus on your power animal. The penguin in the cave. I don't think I was doing a very good job hiding whatever you call the "I would like to kill you" facial expression because he immediately said, "Oh not as fat as other David." Day late and a buck short buddy. "Don't you have lessons to plan or students to abuse?" I THOUGHT. I wanted to say it but I have retained some social graces in a country where they are seldom used.

Seojeong College is at the top of a hill, like most colleges in Korea. It takes 5 minutes to walk up or down the hill. David calls a taxi for the trip. Or he gets rides from students. Evidently he had been given a ride by this teacher at one point. I thought of trying to relate that to this teacher but decided to lie and say I had to get to class.

I got home after work and sat on my computer chair in front of my computer to check the hockey scores. I leaned back in my chair and 3 of the wheeled arms of its foundation simultaneously snapped and I was on my ass looking up at my computer from the floor. I am looking up at my computer as I type. I have my easy chair in front of the computer but it's a bit too close to the floor. I feel like a kid who needs a booster seat at the Thanksgiving table.

If you want to see my chair in the trash heap outside my apartment, here are a couple of links:


I don't know why but I can't post pictures on this blog any more. I used to be able to but now I can't. Not even from a url. If anyone knows why, please help!!

So, in conclusion, I think I'll go on a 6 k walk/jog. I'm taking this as a subtle message. As subtle as it gets in Korea anyway. See ya later.

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