Friday, May 28, 2010

Night Walk Home

Teaching can be brutal, it had starting to wear me down a bit, and the continual chess games I was playing with Mrs. Lee were doing nothing to improve my nerves.

To alleviate some stress, I decided to stroll the few kilometres home. It was a pleasant walk, and totally incomprehensible to the Asians why I’d want to endure this kind of torture. When I mention walking for more than 15 minutes, most of them say ‘it’s impossible’. So I didn’t tell anyone to avoid the pleas of accepting a drive and warnings of my imminent death on the side of the road. I just skipped out and started, slinging my Korean schoolbag over my shoulder. After a kilometre or so, I was between towns on a charming country road, surrounded by rice paddies full of chirping frogs. The familiar smells of clover patches did a lot to improve my mood.

I had awoken today ready to quit because I was sure Mrs. Lee was delaying my pay for a week, but it turns out that I'd just lost track of time. It’s seemed like I’d been teaching years but apparently it’d only been two months – unless the two schools were working in tandem to manipulate me. It was possible, but I didn't have the energy those days to bother about a weeks pay. After this money came in on the weekend, I’ll be in a better position having enough cash to flee the country at anytime. I really wanted to stick it out at least six months, but I had a difficult job, and I was hoping that with habituation, it would get easier.

The countryside here is beautiful, it was so nice to spend an hour walking enveloped in a cloak of darkness, washing the memories of the day away. Packs of kids screaming and demanding, not listening, talking in class, interrupting. Teaching can be very difficult. Tomorrow will be worse, seven classes with no break, but then, thankfully it’s the weekend.

The outskirts of Toon-Jon consist of a shanty town, where poor Koreans scurry about in their aluminium roofed hovels, or squat in the dirt smoking cigarettes around piles of burning garbage. I pass through and a few curious eyes turn to follow me. I’m not in the least worried as even if there were trouble, I have enough pent up nervous energy after class to single handedly decimate a horde of emaciated, looting Koreans. But there is seldom any violence here, and I’d be in far more danger walking in downtown Toronto.

Over an ancient bridge spanning a sickly, trickling creek and into Toon-Jon proper, with it’s condos surrounded by budding tomato plants bursting up through plastic bags in neat little rows, tended by withered twisted old ladies. Into my house. I briefly considered lying down, attempting to finish Atlas Shrugged, but Ms. Rand starts a book far better than she finishes one, and I dropped my bag on the floor, changed into sandals and marched out the door to purchase some water, and come to the PC room here.

These Koreans towns are busy places, full of blinking signs of sharply contrasting colours displaying pictures of animals with huge smiles, looking absolutely delighted at the prospect of being butchered and eaten. Drunken Korean men lurch down the street holding each other up, spending their few brief moments away from work rapidly drinking themselves into submission with Soju, the national hooch. On occasion they take notice of me, and once in awhile aggressively demand conversation, which I try and avoid.

The weekend plan was into Seoul, I was planning on drinking and hopefully catching a friend's David Bowie act if he was playing on Saturday. I was too tired on Friday to do anything after the grueling schedule. I was hoping the following week I would have Internet and cable TV at home, So I could entertain myself there rather than spending money here at the internet cafe. I was also expecting my long awaited meeting with Mr. Han, who wanted me to write…something for him. It was a chance for extra cash. Mondays were inexplicably dropped from my schedule, which was fine with me. I could make more with private students anyway. And I didn’t mind the recovery time.

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