The Horseman of My Apocalypse

In a brief moment of unencumbered energy I have accomplished nearly 3 productive things this afternoon since school ended. None of these things were especially difficult, but with my penchant for doing absolutely nothing, I am impressed with myself. You should be too.

I suppose this is a reaction to the frustrations that have overcome me at work. I am an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea. Additionally I have been a teacher back in the United States and despite the occasional misstep I feel fairly confident in my ability to create an engaging lesson.

This ability hinges on the slightest of floss however, as anybody who has ever taught can attest…many things can and do go wrong.

And it’s never my fault…

Story 1.

Three weeks ago I was using a slide presentation, that featured famous characters in movies and entertainment to work on the phrase “who is this.” Students would identify the picture and then were required to describe the person in a few phrases. It was going quite swimmingly when the door opened.

A man who I had never seen before strolled into my classroom carrying a brand new, flat screen computer monitor. I like flatscreens, and had actually been expecting to get one soon. I used some broken korean, and pointed to a corner in an attempt to get the man to place the screen there so that it could be hooked up after I was done with my presentation, which was hinging on the use of a computer. He did not listen to me.

He proceed to dismantle my computer right there, in the middle of class. I asked him in perfect Korean if he could do this later. I know it was perfect because every student in the class gasped when I used the phrase. (this has become my general indication of when I say something correctly, a wrongly pronounced phrase will result in quizzical looks) Again, he did not listen.

There goes my presentation. There goes the student’s attention. There goes 15 minutes of my lesson.

I don’t know enough Korean to call him an inconsiderate asshole, and even if I did it would be in bad taste since you know, I am a teacher in a classroom full of students…so I resort to angry looks.

Story 2.

The students had been progressively going on a field trip to a nearby ice skating rink. They don’t call it a field trip though, they call it “ice training.” I think it’s a cultural thing. Everything has to have a practical application. Fun, for the sake of fun, is not practical. Hence, “ice training.”

Every class in the school had been going, and the event had been planned for weeks. The 4th graders were set to go on the same day that they were scheduled to see me. I knew this and was planning accordingly. The day before though the 4th grade teacher approached me and asked if she could reschedule all of her classes to another day. This would result in a different class coming to see me tomorrow.

Um, no…maybe if you had asked me more than a day before I could have done this, but I have materials planned for tomorrow according to the schedule that I knew about for four weeks now. It discombobulates me to no end, how this person is able to work, and progress in her profession as she is completely unorganized.

She does not know enough English to call me an inconsiderate asshole and resorts to dirty looks.

Story 3.

Today. I was presenting material to my class using Microsofts PowerPoint. I had flash cards, and vocab words that I was using to stimulate conversation throughout the class on this PowerPoint.

A drill sounds, the lights flicker, and my computer as well as all the electricity in my room goes out. In the next classroom over they had been doing some re-modeling. I understand the remodeling, and if a mistake was made then I understand the power going out.

A mistake was not made. They had planned to shut off the power for about a week now and neglected to tell me. It’s not like I needed those materials or anything…I enjoy winging the rest of my lessons for the rest of the day. Really, I do. How about coming to my class and punching me in the throat while your at it so I can’t speak either.

I don’t know enough Korean to call them inconsiderate assholes, but by now I realize that the students don’t know enough English to know what I’m saying.

I yell at them through the walls.

I feel a little bit better.


There are those who might read my earlier post about culture shock and say that I am simply mis-understanding the culture. I would disagree. I am understanding stupidity.

I was frustrated last year, in America, when the head teachers sent me on a series of errands to plan a 6th grade activity literally 20 minutes before it was supposed to happen. Was that culture shock? No, that was stupidity.


Admittedly, I think efficiency is overrated. At it’s most basic form efficiency is the belief that we can do more with less. An efficient use of time means that we can read more books, create more art, change the world just a little bit more. However, over efficiency results in stress and a belief that we should always be doing something. Gay marriage doesn’t ruin families…efficiency does.

I believe that sleeping and doing absolutely nothing are efficient uses of time.

So with this I understand the non-efficient nature to an extent. But damn, they couldn’t of waited til the afternoon to mess with my electricity when I have nothing to do but screw around on facebook?


Filed under Culture, Narratives

3 responses to “The Horseman of My Apocalypse

  1. Emily

    these last couple posts are great. i think u should b a professional writer. xoxox

  2. Emily

    oh yea, did u know that stephen colbert is running in the pres. primary in SC???

  3. Emily

    also, i think this is my favorite post so far. nice. = )

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