Some days are more interesting than others; today was neither dull nor particularly colorful; but that doesn’t mean I didn’t come away with a few indelible sound-bites.
The start of my day was not especially promising. First, I overslept, not by much, but enough to be forced into eating a granola bar on the way out the door in lieu of a proper breakfast. When I arrived at the fitness center I had 50 minutes to workout and shower instead of the usual hour and 20 minutes. Again, not a huge deal. I weighed my two options: 1) alter my regimen, omitting several exercises, or 2) speed things up and squeeze in my normal routine in 30 less minutes. I went with the latter option, jumping from one thing to another without any recovery time. Halfway through and I was still feeling good, albeit eventually I had to reduce the weight on some exercises due to a build up of lactic acid. The gym that I belong (is belong to strong of a word?) to is better than adequate, and even though they lack some exercise machines and free weights that I am accustomed to back home, the spas, saunas, and steam rooms make up for it. After finishing my last set of dips I rushed to the locker room to shower before heading to work. I don’t always feel comfortable showering, especially when a guy who scrubs people down (apparently he is employed to do this) is lurking, but after 7 months I have gotten used to being a nude foreigner among a sea of Koreans. A coworker told me a story of a former coworker of his that went to the sauna to relax. Apparently, this guy kept his shorts on because he wasn’t keen on the idea of going in naked. When the infamous back scrubber caught sight of this he rushed over, pull down the guys shorts, and waved his finger back and forth while saying, “No, no, no.” After showering I felt absolutely exhausted from the intense workout and a wave of nasuea and dizziness struck. To make matters worse (for the people around me) I forgot my deodorant and cologne at home. Leaving, I felt horrible, and instead of taking the fifteen minute stroll to work I took a cab.
It was at lunch with a group of female coworkers that I began to feel better. While eating a bagel and cream cheese the conversation turned to the “c” word. Some people adamantly refuse to even utter the “c” word. Personally, I don’t have any real qualms about saying it. The “c” word is widely considered one of the raunchiest, most distasteful words in the English language, and everyone at the table held this opinion … or so I thought. Out of nowhere, a very nice, sweet young teacher announced that she calls her dad a cunt all the time. Directly to his face? Sure, just joking around. “My dad calls me a cunt too,” she explained nonchalantly. From this moment on my day began shaping up nicely.
During our daily foreign teacher meeting the manager of the hagwon came in to make a few announcements. He stressed how important listening is to learning a new language and how our students needed more practice doing this. Up to this point, I was nodding my head in agreement. He went on to explain that young children learn language by listening and mimicking what they hear. Still nodding. Then came the curve ball, the Michael Scott moment: “You guys know Helen Keller right? Yeah, that’s how she did it. She listened.” I didn’t nod, and kept it to myself that Helen Keller was deaf and blind.
When I walked into my first class I realized that I had a new student. Nothing gets me more excited in the classroom than seeing a new student because it means that it’s time to choose an English name. Sometimes, much to my chagrin, a student will come to the academy already with an English name; most of the time though the student picks a name in the first class. I’ve learned that I have a tremendously powerful influence during the selection process and I’m not ashamed to admit that I utilize this power. I figure I am doing the student a favor, bestowing them with a cool name. Selfishly, this is really great practice for when it’s time to officially name a child. The little guy immediately took a liking to the name Tupac.