An interruption to the stories of Vietnam for a real-time update:
I’ve been wondering when Yeongwol is going to get with the program and dismantle the Christmas lights.
Answer: today. As temperatures soared to a tropical eight degrees, the men of Yeongwol rolled out the cherry pickers and took to the skies. This gives me hope that one day in the near future, Spring will come.
But until then, I’ll be deskwarming.
Deskwarm– verb. To sit at a desk for up to eight hours at a time, for days on end, devoid of human contact. Typically performed by foreign English teachers who are contractually obligated to do so while other teachers gallivant around town doing as they please. See: deskwarmer
E.g., “I have to deskwarm all week.” “Deskwarming is destroying my soul.”
I first heard about the deskwarming phenomenon during orientation. Many of the guest speakers warned us that the months of January and February, while one school year has ended and the other has yet to begin, would mean a lot of sitting around and doing nothing for us EPIK teachers.
“What are they complaining about?” I thought. “It’s in the contract. We’re still getting paid. We don’t have to do anything. Suck it up.”
And then I started deskwarming. It wasn’t so bad at first – I figured I’d do some writing, study Korean, plan heaps of lessons in advance.
Which I did. But there are a full eight hours in a deskwarming day, and my motivation has a stamina of roughly four hours.
For a couple of days, our co-teachers were there, popping in and out, announcing spontaneous lunches of goat meat or pig rice soup, having coffee with other Korean teachers in the office, or pausing momentarily to tell us that they hadn’t had a chance to speak much English over the break. (translation: I am going to continue speaking Korean and not fill you in, even though you hear your name repeatedly in conversation)
That was all fine, too. Jared and I have lovely co-teachers who are extremely busy at school and extremely busy with their families at home, so it’s understandable that they don’t always get to fill us in on what’s going on.
On Wednesday afternoon, my co-teacher said, “See you next week!” and cheerfully headed out the door.
Wha- ? Ok, see you later.
Jared and I spent the last couple of days listening to Korean lessons on TTMIK, searching for illegal downloads for new release movies, and logging an obscene amount of hours on facebook. (Why hasn’t anyone responded to my witty wall post? Why?)
Occasionally we would get up and pace around the office, staring out the circular window at the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
“Even if we could leave an hour early,” one of us would say. “That would be better than nothing.”
“I don’t even think anyone would notice if we left,” the other would reply.
“This sucks,” we would say in unison.
Something funny happens when you are forced to stay in an office all day with nothing to do and no one to notice that you are there. You lose your will to live. I could try to explain it so you aren’t sitting there going, “It’s in your contract. You’re getting paid. Suck it up,” but I can’t. Deskwarming sapped my energy to try.
Classes start up again on the 2nd of March, and next week I suspect that many of the teachers will return to the building. Jared and I snuck a peek at my co-teacher’s desk calendar, where she writes about activities that we don’t know about that still affect us. There appears to be some sort of dinner at 5:30 on Tuesday evening, plus a few other random events in store for next week.
But my life is not all moaning about getting paid for doing nothing. I can moan about other stuff, too. Such as:
- Last Friday’s bicycle accident, in which I attempted to cruise over a small curb and wound up on the pavement. Result: unfixable hole in my only pair of black pants. Fail.
- Scrambling to post our passports to a travel agency in Seoul so we could get Chinese visas before our Alien Registration Cards fall below 6 months’ validity. That sounds confusing because it is.
- Our January bills came for the apartments. Since our complex dictates when and to what degree the heat is on, we have no control over the usage. Consequence: A heating bill of 198,000 won. Times two – one for the apartment we live in, one for the apartment we rarely visit. All this when we were in Vietnam for 3/4 of the month anyway.
BUT. All of this is inconsequential when compared to the resounding positive news that the weather is improving. I didn’t even wear my hat on the bike ride home today. Next week, I might get a little crazy and cut back to one pair of socks.