Well, we went out to the post office to buy stamps and mail our letters. The kids, that is. It was mostly my job to make sure they stayed in line and didn’t run out into traffic. Next we had to go to the playground. Soo Teach-a led the pack. When we got there, I had a bad feeling about it. Then Soo looked worried. She asked me, “Is this where we’re supposed to go?” “Not unless another school is letting us use their playground.”
“Let’s just use the playground at our school.”
On the way back, we stopped at a snack tent, where the kids ordered their ho-daks. It still sounds like “hot dog” to me. Soo was really nice and bought me one. Those things are so tasty. And correction, it’s more of a brown sugar nut filling, like in brown sugar Pop Tarts. The boys were also ordering this drink that the vendor would scoop out of a bucket. The vendor asked me if I wanted one. I declined. Not ready yet to drink some concoction out of a bucket on the ground, unless the bucket is in keg form.
This weekend, I’m going to delve into the realm of soju, Korea’s hard liquor of choice. I’m told it’s like a wine but more like a vodka. I hope I like it. It’ll help me cut back on the high-carb beer, even though I don’t drink much of that either.
There’s a kid in one of the elementary classes that has that mottled skin condition that I’ve seen on one or two people here. I don’t know his name. He seems very shy, but he always comes up to me and says, “Hi Joe Teach-a.”
“Hi. How are you doing?”
He didn’t seem to understand. So I tried in Korean.
“Oh, fine. Thank you, Joe Teach-a.”
It seemed to make his day that I asked him how he was.
Mr. Chae wanted Brant and me to meet him at 4:30 to head to Incheon. After class, I killed time by walking around the neighborhood, getting to know the businesses. Each building is around four or five stories, packed to the gills with businesses. So I’m reading the hangul, trying to figure out what’s around. I was mainly looking for a computer store to look at some speakers. When I found one, it was 4:30, so I didn’t have time to browse.
Brant, Mr. Chae and I headed to the basement and got into the school van. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find my Korean language book. The traffic was a mess on the way there, and the way they all drive, I just have to close my eyes. After an hour, we were in Incheon and driving over a bridge and a causeway. I reclined and soaked in the view. The sun was setting, there were mountainous islands peaking out of the water, surrounded by mist. Every time I see beautiful mountains so far in Korea, the M*A*S*H theme gets stuck in my head. Brant and I started humming it.
Mr. Chae brought a big yellow sign that he made that said “‘River’ (Vancouver) Brighton School.” Oh yes, the River from Vancouver. I’m glad we’re being specific. We were trying to trick each other into holding the sign. None of us wanted to look like a chauffeur. Mr. Chae gave it to me while he went for his frequent and oddly time smoke breaks. I shoved it into Brant’s hands while I checked to discover that we were waiting at the wrong meeting area. And then when we met Mr. Chae at the correct meeting area, I shoved it into his hands.
It took around an hour after River’s plane landed before we saw her come out. By that time, the sign was in my hands again, and I had made it to the front of the crowd. She saw us right away. Already she seems like a cool person and someone that will be pleasant to work with. She’s originally from Houston, and we used the same recruiter, so we had plenty to talk about. When we got to the van, Mr. Chae got into the driver’s seat and then stepped out. Smoke break.
You don’t trust Mr. Chae with much, but you can trust him to drive. The trouble is, directions are one of those things that you can’t trust him with. He missed the turn to her apartment, and Brant was so frustrated, he was yelling at him. We then went all the way around, past the school and back to the turn to her apartment. We finally made it. Mr. Chae later tried to save face by saying he was showing her the school, but he went a roundabout way in doing it.
River got Ross’s old apartment, and the cable, phone, and internet were still activated. Lucky bugger! The only thing she was missing was toilet paper, so Brant and I went to the corner market and got her a few supplies for the first night. She was dead tired, so we left her there.
Actually, we were all dead tired. Brant and I didn’t go out for dinner. I just reheated some pizza. The weather is nicer, so I’ve had my window open to get some air circulation.
I want to get in a Friday mood, but we have to do an orientation for new students tomorrow. I have no problem working on Saturdays. I’m stressed because I’m supposed to teach two sample classes with the parents watching. Brant and I put our heads together and decided to center a class around “C is for Cookie.”
Oh yeah, I’m going up to the DMZ (De-militarized Zone) in Panmunjon next weekend. Ross invited us on a USO-sponsored tour. Brant’s spotting me the money, and it looks like River’s going too. A few of them have digital cameras, so I’ll be able to upload pictures after the trip. It’s pretty exciting. There’s a dress code and certain things we have to do for security and decorum. I guess it won’t be a good idea for me to bring my Cold War memorabilia pocket watch.
One of my three Bacchus girls was sick. The other is leaving for Pusan after lunch. So I’m stuck with only one.