Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I appear to be a horrible friend.

I have one friend accusing me left, right and centre of ignoring her texts. I didn't think I was that bad. Interestingly, this person forgot about my North Korea trip, which I had been talking about incessantly, not least because I wasn't overly keen on hiking with impending pneumonia. One of the nights that I ended up feeling like I was supposed to feel very guilty, I didn't check my phone because I was out on a date! I ended up feeling horrible, like I was responsible for ruining someone's night out. And I felt a bit resentful about that, because I basically invite anyone along to any sort of plans, all the time. That hasn't been reciprocated by this person, and yet somehow I am left feeling guilty.

And we had what I assume was an argument last night. Basically, she accused me of calling her a suck, which wasn't the case at all, and then stopped chatting. What can you do? I was merely expressing my lack of ability to understand what exactly was the problem. That seems fair, since I keep being told about it and I don't get it. I could pretend to get it, but I don't and I don't see how stating that translates into me calling someone a suck. I don't know the people, I don't get how personal history affects the situation, and nothing I've been told about the present situation sounds shockingly different than what goes on in hagwons here all the time. A lot of it doesn't sound much different from nasty ass politics I have encountered at every single job I have ever had. Now, that isn't for everyone and that's fine. But I don't get it and was looking for some sort of clarification. And to a certain extent, in Korea, I judge stories of working conditions by a slightly different yardstick. I mean, I presently work with a woman who stuck it out 8 months without a working toilet in her work-provided apartment. Now, I happen to think that's somewhat crazy and I would have fucked off by the end of the first month. But it does put a lot of other "my hagwon done me wrong" stories into a totally different perspective, you know? Those Dave's ESL Cafe stories of hell are occassionally true. Stay around long enough, you start to know people who have gone through them. And you'll undoubtably at least brush by one yourself.

Part of this may well have to do with being something of an old hand here. In a country where most of the foreigners stay a year, if that, and no longer, my third contract makes me something of a long termer. I have a lot to say about Korea and what it's like working here. And I can't normally be arsed saying it to newbies. I find that someone (and I am most certainly not directing this at anyone in particular, because every newbie seems to do it) who has been around for 6 months or so will still think they understand Korea better than or as well as I do. There are certainly people who undersand Korea far better than I. Some might even have clocked in less time here. But in that case, presumably they are fairly fluent in Korean and very well read. That doesn't really describe much of anyone I personally know here though. And you know, at some point experience really does start to count for something.

And back to the text ignoring. I work like a fucking maniac, so I don't often check for texts during the work day. I regularly mark through my 5 minute breaks. In 11 hours, I will take 40 mins for myself at lunch and then maybe another 15 to go get a coffee during prep time. Other than that, I'm working full out. I care about doing my job well and with the number of students I have, that takes a hell of a lot of work. And I am occasionally lazy and forget to charge my shitty ass batteries, which now last for about one 5 minute phone call, and thus can't check for them. I get it, I need a new phone. But the lazy has stopped me from bothering, thus far. Though I can't call Canada until I do.

So I suppose that is another thing. I am a horrible daughter, sister, aunt, etc. I haven't called home since I've been here, due to the shitty cell phone issue. And I don't have a landline. I blog, but seldom email. However, people seldom email me. So.

Then, there were two separate leaving parties that I left early during and it has been suggested to me that I should have made it until 6am or the party girl left, whichever came first. Interestingly, they were both for people who were drunk as skunks by the time I arrived on my last night in Korea at the end of year two and were both gone by midnight, one of whom didn't even say goodbye. I didn't care in the slightest. These things happen when people are drinking. You peace out when you need to peace out. For one, I was drunk as a skunk, couldn't find anyone, and didn't have a working cell phone. For the second, I had bronchitis and was tired and sober and coughing every ten seconds while in smokey bars. To top it off, one of the people who seems all "disappointed" that I left early for the first party, herself left and went to a different neighbourhood to drink! At least I had the excuse of being passed out in my bed, rather than drinking elsewhere.

As for the other individual who thinks they are being ignored by text - well, that is actually the case and it may well continue.

So, yes, this is a completely passive aggressive post. I don't actually think I am the most terrible friend ever. I do my damnedest. I try to be around and out when people want me to be. I have spent years keeping in better touch with many people than they have kept with me. As the one overseas all the time, that seems natural. I try and send letters and postcards and remember birthdays and all that. I do my best. Are people really looking for more than that? And if so, do they really think they are regularly doing any better?

1 comment:

Banannas said...

oh yeah...throw in all the relatives (many of whom i saw during chuseok) along with the few friends and my parents...that comprised my list of why-haven't-you-contacted-me people. ah well, life gets busy. and unlike you (perhaps?), i overtly go into periods of hiding.

by the way, i hope your bronchitis is over and that no more terrible bugs come along...for awhile, at least.