I've already spotted out next semester's problem customer. It's always the fresh-faced, timid looking ones. They're the same kind of women who drive me up the wall back home, as well. They're just so.... shocked. About everything, all the time. I mean, props to their fathers or whoever it is who has managed to bring them to the age of 30 while seemingly entirely denying them any working knowledge whatsoever of the outside world. I don't know. They drive me up the wall, because I'm a foreigner, so me just kind of going about business as usual tends to automatically clash with some of their holy sacred ideas about life. And I don't really have any patience for that.
Anyway, I've mostly steered clear of her so far. We don't teach together until after summer. Maybe she's very nice. In fact, I'm sure that she is very nice. I'm also sure that she's very uptight. But we'll see. Today, there was no one else in the lunch room, and it would've been a little obvious if I had purposely gone out of my way to sit at another table.
First question, after the usual pleasantries..... ready for this one?
"Isn't it difficult for you to teach?"
I mean. I don't really get the premise of that question to start. Why would it be difficult for me to teach? Is it difficult for you to teach? Are you trying to tell me that you're having a hard time? I don't see why else someone would look at me and, out of nowhere, ask me if it's difficult for me to do my job, which is actually the same job they are doing. But whatever.
No. It's not difficult for me to teach. I've been doing it for nearly three years now, well over three years if you count my university experience. Next question?
"Is your boyfriend a student?"
Nice. I can see the little path we're carving out for our relationship here already. No. I'm 27 years old (Korean age). My boyfriend is not a student. Is your husband a student? What? Is that an odd question? Why? We're only two years apart in age..... if my boyfriend could be a student, why couldn't your husband be a student? Is that ridiculous, for some reason?
That's the thing with this type. Every time you simply make an innocent face and turn their questions right back around on them, they give you this kind of strained smile, like somehow you are being rude and don't know it. But they can endure it so as not to embarrass you. All the while completely failing to realize that all you are doing is repeating their questions back to them.
She really didn't mean any offense, though. And you'll see why in a minute. See, this one still catches me off guard. I still don't always see this one coming. But there's a reason I specifically didn't see it coming this time.
"Oh.... what does he do?"
"He works at a company."
"Oh..... a Korean company?"
Did you crack on yet? No? Hang on.
"Yes. A Korean company."
"Oh...... did you meet him in Korea?"
At this point, you have a choice to make. You can either let them continue to ask completely off-base questions and pretend like you don't realize they are not considering the possibility that your boyfriend is Korean, and risk them having a really embarrassing and shocked "Aha!" moment, or you can just point it out up front, which also tends to lead to a bit of embarrassment for some reason. Why the subject always seems to end up embarrassing for some reason is beyond me. But those are your choices. I usually go with the first one.
The thing is, the last time I met with this woman, she sat through a thirty minute conversation amongst my co-teachers about my boyfriend and how I make terrible typos in Korean sending messages to him sometimes, and how I would do well marrying a Korean because I've adpated well to the culture, and raising bilingual kids. And all the other kind of nonsense that your older coworkers tend to carry on about when they decide to gang up on you about marriage and kids over coffee, outside of the office. So I'm not really sure why we're back to square one on this one, wondering how my American boyfriend got a job at a Korean company, but it's fine. She'll figure it out eventually. And hopefully she'll adjust when she does. Because I don't know if I can handle Head Teacher the Human Bulldozer and Pollyanna the Overly Polite Xenophobe at the same time.