May 13, Admin Part 1

I had another fabulous day with the fourth graders which makes me think maybe I just really enjoy the fourth grade age. They’re still young enough to be cute but just old enough to be sarcastic. They are on the cusp of preteen-hood and it’s right time, if I were fluent in Korean and their homeroom teacher, to instill good values and start having important conversations.

I walked into 4-1 and felt a little frustrated, though: I had prepared for the second section of the chapter but it seems that Jack hasn’t started the chapter with them yet so I had to throw out all of my higher level activities and just focus on our new vocabulary. They learned just a few prepositions, on in and under, and we played as simplified Simon says as well as some team questioning.

I said “my hands are on my head” and the students would have to put their hands on their own heads. But I increased the silliness of my commands every round. At one point I pointed to my bum and explained that this was a butt and they needed to put their butt on the floor. One boy mimicked my pose, added a hand on his hip, and said loudly “sexy”. I couldn’t help but laugh.

In one class I said “the students are under the teachers hand” and suddenly I had almost thirty ten-year-olds in a puppy pile at my feet, almost exactly the same as the Seoul kids had done when I played this with them too.

I’m surprised that they are retaining our vocabulary from the last few lessons and they have a great time using on me. Before I came into one class they said “don’t enter!”

One girl also asked with serious curiosity why I had pronounced “the animal” as /thee/ and not /thuh/. I’ve had this situation other classes and I think the Korean teachers emphasize that “a” must always be pronounced as an /uh/.

However, if I speak slowly or with emphasis in front of the vowel, I will use the long vowel pronunciation. That’s a bit difficult to explain with my limited Korean so I told her that if I speak slowly I pronounce it as /thee/ and if I speak quickly I pronounce it the way she’s used to as /thuh/. I gave her an example by speaking quickly and her eyes lit up with understanding. It was great to see.

After classes I remembered I was supposed to get my car title in the mail but when I looked at the tracking it had been delivered to the post office and not to my school. The car salesman had recommended I have it delivered to the school since it requires a physical sign off. But the admin didn’t have it and I was forced to drive across town to the post office.

Well, you can imagine how that went.

I asked the receptionist where to find my mail and she pointed me upstairs. I didn’t even know there was an upstairs to this tiny building. But then I remembered the huge post office in Seoul that also required me to go to a magical second floor where all the postmen were sorting mail since I had been out the day a mailman had come by with my school contract and was required to pick it up in person.

So I went up to the mystical second floor where a woman with extremely shiny gold eyeshadow tried to redirect me back to the first floor to shake me off. I indicated downstairs had told me to come upstairs so she conceded and asked for the tracking number then told me to wait a moment. She came back from another room and told me that the title has been delivered to the school.

I told her the school had not received it. She said that was wrong and that it had been delivered. I didn’t know what to do and she sort of shuffled me out of the door while I mumbled in confusion. I texted Helen for help who later texted me I should ask for proof that they delivered it.

Helen, I don’t know how to use procedural words in Korean!

Gold eyeshadow lady did not want to deal with me and there was not much I could do but walk dejectedly down the road and wonder where the heck my title went. I figured it’s best to be proactive so I went to the local provincial office where I hear you can get a certified copy of the title.

I made it 15 minutes before closing and the receptionist asked what I was looking for. Unfortunately for reasons I cannot fathom “car title” was not in my phone dictionary and so I awkwardly tried to explain car title in Korean. She led me to her coworker at another booth stating that her coworker speaks English and can help me.

Her coworker did not speak English.

The young man sitting next to the coworker was also no help but with these two ladies we did our best to muddle through. I tried to explain that it appears the post office has lost my car title and I need a re-print. They weren’t sure what I meant and suggested I go back to the post office or go to some other office across the street. I knew that wasn’t quite right.

Finally, I got a text from the car salesman explaining what the title is called in Korean and upon showing the two ladies they immediately exclaimed in understanding and pointed me to booth number one which is where I usually go to get various documents for immigration and such.

And of course, it was the same young woman working as always.

The same young woman who is exactly polite as she needs to be but no more. She asked me something and I asked her to repeat herself. She said it again but absolutely no more quietly or loudly or slowly or quickly. I blinked at her, feeling a panic coming on. Can you say that one more time?

I thought, if I don’t understand her this time I’m going to have to just up and leave this building in shame.

Luckily, I finally understood she was asking me if I had lost it and well… I didn’t lose it but sure whatever.

The office closed while she was printing and stamping and I had to take a side door to get out of the building once everything was finished

As you know very well by now, Asia Time strikes when you least expect it.

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