4.1 Spring 2022

April 8, Partitions

Sometime in the afternoon Wendy appeared over my computer.

“Don’t get me wrong, I like you,” she started and my heart dropped all the way into my stomach. What had I done?

I put on my self-protecting “customer service” face to prepare for whatever was going to come after this sentence.

“I want to put a partition between our desks. Don’t take it the wrong way,” she emphasized, “I like your questions about Korean!”

My immediate reaction was relief that I hadn’t irrevocably committed a terrible faux pas and was being chided, but my neck still felt hot.

“Okay.” I said. “No problem.”

“Well, can you come with me?” She gestured to the office door.

“Um sure,” I agreed, unclear about what I was admitting to.

She and I went to the supply closet nextdoor where she gestured to a flimsy dressing partition. There were even tassels on each fabric panel.

We picked up two, weighing less than the handful of chestnuts she gave to me this morning, and moved them back to our office.

She maneuvered the ridiculously tall but narrow panels between our desks then clapped her hands in satisfaction.

My mood dropped.

It’s hard to believe I’m not an annoyance when someone literally erects a barrier to keep me out.

I sat quietly at my desk finishing lesson plans and feeling glum. It was already so hard to make connections at this school and now I was faced with a literal wall between me and the person responsible for my contract.

MJ returned from class later and looked at the partition.

“What is that?” She asked.

I shrugged, hoping to convey some annoyance about the situation without being rude.

One friend suggested that the partition might be for privacy or to prevent COVID, but when I sent her a photo of it she burst into laughter.

“How can it be so big and yet block nothing?”

I can still see Wendy’s computer screen.

I’ll pretend that it’s not because of me, and instead continue to lob Korean questions at my work mom MJ who is, at least for now, visible at her desk.

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