1.3 Winter 2020

Desk Warming, Day 11

Today was a day of revelations that still leave me flabbergasted. Perhaps it started with the discovery of a free range rooster. Why did he cross the road?

No, really, why is there a rooster loose in the maze of apartment complexes near the mountain base?

G stopped by to finish her taxes and discovered me. “Can you go out? I want to buy you bread.”

“Yes, I don’t think anyone really cares.”

Arm in arm we walked to the bakery and G told me that the nervous young office woman intercepted her to say “Please tell Abigail I feel sorry. She doesn’t like our lunch food so it must be difficult for her.”

G recounted this and I was shocked. I told G, I have no problem with Korean food.

They saw that I was trying to eat as fast as possible, so why would they think I didn’t like it? I am so confused that they see my refusal as a rejection of Korean food and not a rejection of their uncomfortable eating habits. I’m a bit offended that they think I don’t enjoy Korean food, which is an insulting assumption. I suppose I could go again with them tomorrow and then finish my meal alone.

As appealing as that sounds.

Okay, okay, I know they mean well. But I wish they could examine that perhaps there was another possibility? Even one man at the time laughingly noted that “Koreans eat really fast” as I tried to stuff a cup of rice in my mouth to match their speed.

G told me “If they ate too fast you could have stayed. Just say goodbye!”

“I guess, but I didn’t know that at the time!”

Later she said, “I think it must be hard and lonely sometimes for native teachers.”

“Yes. You know, I sometimes think that the Korean teachers forget we are not from here and leave us to our own devices.”

“Oh yes, relationships are very important.”

G also shared some other concerning gossip with me. I asked her if she would be coming back next semester to which she explained:

“Don’t tell anyone this but I asked the VP. He told me he wanted me to stay the next year and teach. But the principal said no. He doesn’t know why but feels sorry.”

G will instead take a semester off, go to America to visit her sons, and spend time with her mom in Busan. She’ll start at a school in Dongdaemun after that.

“I told the principal at that school about you. That we work well together.” I can’t switch to that school but I appreciate the vote of confidence.

In the spirit of sharing secrets I told her that I want to stay in Korea but move to the Southeastern province, a fact that no one at this school knows including S and H.

“I’m thinking about… Tongyeong.”

“Wow! Tongyeong is so beautiful! Yes, I think this is a very good idea. And maybe–“

“We can visit each other!”

“Yes,” she agreed.

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