Occurred August 2007, Written Sept. 2007, Revised Feb. 16, 2010.
In August 2007, I took a job at a “prestigious” (it was self-proclaimed, never actually proven) private English academy in Seoul. I had a good feeling about this place. The salary was extremely high and, unlike previous schools, it had a large number of foreign teachers.
It didn’t take long before I figured out something was wrong. This school wasn’t all it promised to be. There was an almost tangible tension floating between different sects of foreign teachers, not to mention Korean management that believed in working you until you bled.
When you travel and live overseas, you’re bound to meet an assortment of odd people and this school was no different. They include, but are not limited to, the manic depressive, the hyperactive, and the socially repulsive. Some can be fun and interesting and others need long intensive therapy sessions with strong antidepressants they can suck on like Tic Tacs.
The 20 foreign teachers at my school could be seperated into three categories: the assholes (the largest constituency), the downtrodden, and the morbidly obese.
At my previous school in Korea, there were 6 foreign teachers and we were inseperable. We not only worked together, we played together. When one person went out on the weekend, we all went out. It was a close-knit group and I was expecting a similar environment for my second tour of duty.
Alas, I was destined for disappointment. Just like my love life, it appears my professional life is to be filled with the insecure, the mentally unstable, and the rude. Fantastic. Not only am I fortunate enough to date women who have conference calls with teams of therapists, I am also doomed to work with them.
Let’s not forget the men. They were far from innocent. From day one, I was labeled as an outsider, not cool enough to be one of them. They refer to me jeeringly as ‘Ken Doll’ behind my back. Ken is tall, attractive, well-built, and is dating the hottest woman on the plantet, Barbie. I’m a short goof ball with man boobs. I’d also like to point out that I’ve never spoken to any of them for longer than 15 seconds at a time. One of my few work friends, Anna, says to take it as a compliment. They see me as competition. Competition for what, I’m not sure since the only game they seem to play is Who Is The Biggest Prick.
That gives you a pretty general idea of who I’m working with, now here are a few specifics:
Rachel and Bernadette, or ‘The Beef Chiefs’ as I affectionately call them, ooze butter from their pores and could create their own wig company using their facial hair. Rachel, despite being best friends with the Devil-spawn Bernadette, is a very nice person who is more than happy to share food recipes with me which make use of the indiginous produce. These recipes require massive amounts of pure butter and should be consumed with heart medication.
Bernadette was sent here straight from Lucifer’s cabinet of senior advisors and top aides. Her satchel-like stomach swings below her private parts like a floppy pendulum. At any moment, I expect a baby kangaroo to pull itself out of this massive pouch, stretch its legs, and hop away. Her demeanor is as pleasant as her appearance. She possesses an Elementary Education degree, but lectures her 4-year old preschool students as if they were in high school. She makes it well-known that she has no respect for teachers without Ed degrees. A new teacher named Rick started work shortly after me. He has an Ed degree and Bernadette decided to take him under her giant blubberous wing. She introduced Rick to other Ed degree holding teachers like this, ‘This is Rick. He has an Education degree.’ She said it in a way implying Rick was as divine as Jesus. Rick is socially awkward and likes to tell you about his dreams where he’s a famous video game character.
Bernadette is also allergic to everything except water. The faculty room is a boiling inferno because Bernadette has to have the windows open because the odors of everyone’s shampoos and soaps make her physically ill. I recommended purchasing a bubble to live in, which was not appreciated, and perhaps they’d even make a documentary about her, ‘She was incredibly brave AND she dedicated her life to children. It’s so tragic the way she died, killed by Victoria’s Secret’s new Body Wash for Sensitive Skin. I don’t think I’m alone when I ask, was it REALLY for sensitive skin? We’ll never know.’
I had seven bosses at this school, because one’s not enough. Four were foreigners, three were Koreans. One was a beautiful Korean woman who I thought to be in her mid to late 30’s. Her skin was perfect and she dressed like a fashion model from the runways of Milan. Despite a perfect face and a mostly great body, I found it odd that she had the buttocks of a 65-year old woman. I recently found out that she gets extensive plastic surgery on a regular basis and she’s actually 55 years old.
One of the foreign bosses was a nice enough guy. The other three are bitter, angry people who, despite having Education degrees and extensive experience, never learned the term ‘team work.’ They prescribe to the management style of ‘Divide and Conqour.’ They speak poorly of other teachers behind their backs, not just to other managers, but to other staff and teachers.
So that’s what I dealt with on a daily basis. If you’ve ever wanted an ulcer or perhaps a migraine headache, I can put in a good word and maybe you can get a job here.