Today I went back to Kyungsung University for an appointment my manager, Mr. Kim, made a couple of weeks ago. It was very nice. Many of my coworkers were there, and they gave me a nice little plaque that I will be proud to put on whatever desk eventually becomes mine. We then went down to the cafeteria together and had lunch. It was a pretty good lunch, with broiled fish, seafood dol-sot-bibim-bap, and tofu stuff that tasted better than you would expect tofu to taste. The conversation was not bad, though I am already well on the way to being an outsider. It's a situation which Horyon and I are becoming accustomed to: everyone else is continuing the same old conversations they've been having for months, sometimes years, and we are not really part of it. It's nothing deliberate, but my fate to them is just one of many topics. For me, it's kind of the main topic.
I'm not completely cut off. Until my dying day I will always sympathize, and to some extent enjoy, stories of the suffering that Earl goes through with lazy, stupid, obnoxious students. Today I heard this one:
So I'm in Thailand, on vacation, and it's February, more than a month after the deadline for changing grades, and I get this email. (Just for the record, I could already see the direction this was going at this point. But Earl's stories are not about the ending, they are about the process.) It's from a student, and she says, 'Do you remember me? I got married in December so I was very busy and you gave me a project to do and I did it and I have the email in my sent box, but I still got an F, so how can we fix your mistake so I can graduate?' So I said, 'First of all it was your mistake for taking so long to follow up on this, and second it's way too late to do anything about this, and third, you're an idiot.
Man, I will seriously miss Earl's stories. It may not show in my pitiful transcription, but there is a kind of sparkle to them. Perhaps my enjoyment stems from the irony of knowing that Earl actually likes his job, and works very hard to teach his students and grow as a teacher. Loosing Earl as a biking partner was pretty bad, but losing him as a coworker is worse. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about losing him as a friend.
Because that wouldn't really be so bad.
Seriously, I will miss working at Kyungsung University. It had the best working atmosphere of any place I have worked in Korea. What made it the best was that the management left the teachers alone. Mr. Kim has been the head of our department for a long time. I was told ten years. He had had some experience working overseas, and applied that to working with us foreigners, to great success.
And then yesterday (just three days after my going away lunch) I heard that he had been shuffled off to a different department. His replacement will be Mr. Kwan. I have worked with Mr. Kwan before. In fact, I have had a few drinks with him. There's a fun little story behind that, but for now I will just leave it at this:
It is possible, though unlikely, that someday I will want to work at Kyungsung University again. No point in burning any bridges, right?
Well, I was hoping to post the pictures that a friend took at this event, but he has not sent them to me yet. If they come, I'll add them to this post.