Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kimono Dragons

It is twenty three degrees outside and I've locked myself in my room with a cup of coffee. The window is all fogged but I can see the sun clearly through the trails the water droplets leave as they run down the window pane.

I'm teaching this new speaking course on Saturdays which I find ironic being that speaking classes were my greatest fear in school. I'm actually designing the course. This is exciting because it allows me to use my creativity while also building my resume. Bad news is, no weekend for me. I'm working six days a week. I feel that my boss is taking advantage of me--paying me the same as last term except giving me so much extra work. I've talked to some Koreans about this and they have told me that it is the Korean work ethic. That one does what the boss says for the greater good of the company. Who has the greatest good in mind? The boss. The Koreans work like maniacs, on average working about 60 hours a week. Forty hours a week is considered part time.

And forget about sick days. I have never been sick as often as I have here. This is my fourth cold in four months except this week I've had a terrible flu. I told my head instructor that I was feeling sick and that my voice was pretty much gone and asked if there was anyway I could get someone to cover my classes. He said he'd see what he could do. Two minutes later my boss is in the room asking me if I had been out drinking the night before! NO! He gave me some Aspirin and told me to go get 'em.

Even the kids come to school sick. That is why I am sick. The other day the students were coughing and hacking not even covering their mouths. I was at the front of the room looking like death, squeaking in a hoarse voice. Time seemed to stop and I was looking around as if in a dream... Swimming all around me are countless germs in the shape of Kimono Dragons. They are Virus's that have been mutating and adapting for millions of years, attacking the bodies of Orientals, shaping their thoughts, philosophies, changing their history--and then--me, a foreigner with a very different history. A body built to resist the chicken noodle soup cold not the spicy beef variety. I realize this epic biological drama is happening all around me and I'm losing. My body demands that my mind fight back. "Class," I said, "please cover your mouths. Understand that each time you cough your germs are going up my nose into my lungs, into my blood and making me sick. Please, you're making Teacher sick. Cover your mouths!!!"

I've always wanted to be the kind of person that could be nearly dead from illness and people wouldn't even know because I'm so strong. But I've never really been like that. When I get sick people know and it becomes a topic of conversation. What is really frightening is broadcasting my sickness for sympathy on a blog.