Posts Tagged ‘Lessons’

Unrequited Benevolence

I have a bike.

I hate that bike.

I walked out of school Monday afternoon to find that my rear tire was flat on my mountain bike. This has become a common theme,  but I was genuinely surprised. Just a few days before, I had replaced both the tire and tube. With places to be and people to see, I headed off on-foot, eventually catching a bus home.

Tuesday morning In a rare weakness, I took the 3 mile taxi ride to work. It was humid and drizzly and I was running extra late. After school, not being committed to any other means of transit, I was obliged to walk my inutile velocipede (dysfunctional bike) home.

The route is characterized by a large hill where the tiers of my school occupy a bit of its southern slope. My apartment is nestled two valleys northwest. The bike ride goes fairly fast, 20 minutes if the stars are aligned (traffic lights rather) or considerably longer (especially if I am late for my Monday morning staff meeting(Murphy’s Law)).  Despite my intimate familiarity with the route, I found the walk to be quite daunting.

Onward and upward. Through vexing mist and husky humidity.

A third of the way up, and my bike came to a dead halt. The faulty tube had come out of the fresh tire and wound itself around the sprocket hub, derailleur and brakes. I cursed my luck as I unwound the greasy, mud-slicked mess.

Halfway up and all I could think was that I wanted to lock myself somewhere cold enough that my weeping pores would never again leak saline tears. I was so preoccupied with my sweaty misfortunes that I hardly noticed the passing-by umbrella toting student. I stopped yet again to bend down and rectify the irksome tube. Upon standing, I found the young doe eyed high school student silently staring at me. In an outstretched arm she held her umbrella towards me. I respectfully declined trying to explain the I was drenched in 85% perspiration and perhaps only 15% precipitation. Unswayed and likely confused she offered to walk me to the next bus stop. As we walked, we chatted a bit, and I learned she went to the all girls school on top of the hill. She was dismayed to learn that I needed to get all the way to Munsu-dong (the area in which my apartment is). As we neared the bus stop she again offered her umbrella. I didn’t have the heart to explain that I really didn’t have a spare hand to hold an umbrella. I declined as respectfully as I could. Nevertheless she seemed quite disheartened as she turned to continue back down the hill.

15 minutes later, I had crested the hilltop was was heading down. Now in addition to my own self pity, I had the guilt of turning down the students generosity. It dawned on me just how benevolent the girl really was being. The simple smell of rain and umbrellas are out. Snow also induces umbrella use. Shoot, even too much sun and Koreans are using their umbrellas.  For the girl to be without hers for the remainder of her 20 minute walk home, would have been a sacrifice indeed.

Yesterday morning, despite a freshly rolling mountain bike, I opted to take my other-less-problematic bike to school. It was the homestretch. I was cruising down the southern slope toward school. In roughly the place where I met the charitable high school student the day prior, I hit a pothole the size of Shanghai. Knowing the back tire was done for, I immediately stopped, got off and walked the remaining 20 minutes to school effectively landing myself in the exact same predicament as the day prior.

Karma for not accepting another generosity or a sign that public transit exists for a reason?

Today I took neither of my freshly patched bikes to school nor did I take a bus. Waking up 6 minutes after my class was supposed to begin, I again undertook the shameful taxi ride to school.

Heres looking toward a less eventful weekend and brighter (hopefully less humid) week ahead.

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Bimonthly Recap

I have been working and living in Yeosu-si South Korea for exactly 2 months now. Although Korea is not new to me, this school, this age demographic, this city and even this province all are. I am a sporadic writer with an interest in being comprehensive. I also have trouble being concise. These truths don’t bode well together. Instead of trying to fill all the gaps between my previous posts, I am going to simply lay out some lessons I have learned over these 2 months.

Lessons learned: 

  • If you forget the keys to the English lab, there is a second set in the main office. Be warned, acquiring them is a time commitment.
  • Toilet paper is nonexistent in academic building 4, it must be sourced in building 1.
  • While most public sinks in Korea only produce cold water, the one on the left in the men’s faculty washroom has hot water.
  • It is appropriate to take food as well as dishes from the dinning hall.
  • Murphy’s Law is real. The day you choose to wear an un-tucked flannel and blast pop music while editing photos and stuffing your face, is also the first and only day the Vice Principle pays a visit to the far-flung-always-forgotten-English-Lab with the provincial academic director in-tow.
  • School lunches are no longer something to dread.
  • A room exists at Yeosu Middle School that is accessible only to the male faculty (There is a females’ version as well). It is complete with a kitchenette, bed and heater. The question is, when is it appropriate to use this haven?
  • Classroom windows must be opened even in the dead of winter to “change” the air. Whats wrong with the warm air?
  • While my small private academy last year had 3 industrial paper cutters, my large public middle school has none. 315 worksheets must be cut in-half with either an exact-o-knife or scissors.
  • Korean middle school boys can be fairly violent towards one another. They can also be surprisingly gentle and affectionate. (via the school talent show I also learned that they can make for convincing girls as well)
  • It does in fact snow in Yeosu and its even capable of “accumulating”. Well for a few hours at least…

This 2 month recap is timely. The semester has ended, winter break has already begun for students, and we are almost a week into the new year. Today was the first of my 2 weeks of winter camp before I am free to take my 2 week holiday to the Philippines. I look forward to the time away but am also eager to see what lessons the new year hold!