1.3 Winter 2020

Last Week of Winter Desk Warming, Day 3

I’ve learned so much about teaching from these past two weeks! Since today was a morning session, I kept activities to writing and puzzles. At the end of class I had another game planned which I will save for tomorrow because of this: I’ve introduced “it is…” and “I like…” and “I don’t like…”. We had a fun time voting on things we do and don’t like and at the end I drew a hamburger. Kids volunteered items to add “I like pickles! I like cola! I like chicken nuggets!” and luckily I knew what they meant since the words for these in Korean are simply transcribed English. We continued to expand our meal as I played both the cashier and customer. They loved it so I continued until we had a full meal, ketchup included.

One of the daycare teachers came in yesterday for the teacher meeting and I realized that all three are likely homeroom teachers at school. And they’ve basically sat in on two weeks of open class. Well, hopefully they enjoyed it!

I actually went over by ten minutes because I mistook the ending time as ten minutes past like it is for afternoon classes. Next to the makeshift classroom a delicious smell wafted out. As I was putting my shoes back on, one grandma in a group of grandmas gestured to me and another woman answered “영어”. English. I jumped in to confirm in Korean that was correct and also that smell is amazing. Grandma 2 was flattered and I’m 60% sure she invited me back in the afternoon to try it. “We made banchan and we’ll eat at 12:30”.

I did in fact go back to the rec center at 12:30 to see if I had understood. There was a huge crew of grandparents gathered in the other rec room from what I could see but it sounded like a gathering, someone even gave a speech. I felt too awkward to interrupt and only got a glimpse of Grandma 2. Not wanting to interrupt, I headed to the post office.


The foreign tax exclusion form I have to submit as one of the many forms for 2019 US taxes was continuously rejected by online filing for unkwnon alpha/numeric characters.

The word was Jongno.

I deleted the form entirely and started over and still received the same error which meant my taxes would need to be filed by paper. Hurray!

So after several weeks I finally finished all documentation and put together all pay stubs and trekked to the post office during lunch. I found some manila envelopes, wrote the addresses, and dropped the forms in.

But at the counter the woman told me if I wanted express shipping, I would need to fill out an express label. So I redid labeling and was about to paste them over my written addresses when she stopped me to exchange the manila envelopes for express envelopes. Okay, no matter. I finished and when I turned around she was off shift. In her place?

The man from last time.

I looked over the counter to her empty seat because she had taken one of my letters while I filled out the other packing slips. The man and post office janitor? office manager? gestured at me with increasingly loud noises like motioning for a child while I looked for my missing letter. It turns out the man had it.

This time I was more emotionally prepared and much less patient. Once again he almost immediately whipped out Google translate just to be incompetent with that, too. He was trying to ask which type of document I was sending but had only translated the word…. “which”. Sigh. He’s in his forties, y’all.

He managed to misspell my name again (Avigal) and also lost the carbon copy of my packing slip. He looked at me and laughed, “where could it have gone?” I just looked at him and said, “is it in the trash can?” He scoffed but rifled through the trash anyway. He gestured that I should rewrite the packing slip and I just stared at him until he flagged down another worker to make a copy of the slip. You know, on their perfectly usable and twenty first century copier.

He then hit a couple more buttons and pointed to the card machine for payment. However, he had never actually said what the cost was so I looked around to the scale to see if the price was displayed. In my delay he said “card? card??” and I just stared back at him.

“Yes, I have a card.” I know how to use a credit card machine!

It made me realize that his idea of communicating with a non-native speaker was to treat them like a small child. The first woman was able to communicate more to me, like that shipping might take longer because of the virus, without resorting to toddler style communication.

This is also why when I sent Christmas packages I ended up switching the addresses and my two recipients had to mail the packages to each other. It’s a confusing place!

At least for every mistake I make, I become stronger. One day I will be running the Jungnang post office.

En route to the post office, I ran into two grade six girls and gave them a hug. They were on their way to the middle school orientation. And coming back, I ran into Seventeen fan, his friend, and one of their moms. I heard 어! before I saw them. We chatted for a short time about where they were going (to eat) and what they would eat (pizza). The boys seemed at a loss of what to actually say besides their initial oh! so I let them go on their way.

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