So, as everyone knows, Monday is volunteer at the study room day. Which means my week always gets off to a running start. Very nearly literally, because I have to walk at a pace that really should be called running, minus the posture, in order to make it to the bus on time to get to the study room by six. Luckily, my old co-teacher and office mate is a sly bitch who likes to tip me off when all of the Korean teachers, VP and principal will be in an afternoon meeting until well past finishing time. Then she just looks at me and says, "So..... no one will know if you are here. Or not. See? I am taking my bag...... goodbye..... for the day....." and then slowly shuts the door after her, with everything save a jaunty little wink.
So I got a nice coffee today before I caught the bus. And, as I was sitting there on the bus in a window seat waiting for my caffeine second wind to kick in, I spotted a herd of old students on the sidewalk, including Minwoo and Daeseok. If no one remembers, Minwoo was my golden boy from last year who stole a bike when he was in first grade and then had the audacity to smile and make a V for the CCTV while he did so. Daeseok was the one who broke into another student's apartment and used it to drink soju and order expensive porn on their cable. They used to intimidate Seokhee (my fluent South African student) into writing notes for them in English to me, because they didn't speak a lick of it themselves. There were a few other old favorites in the mix, there on the sidewalk, but no one as memorable as Minwoo and Daeseok.
We were stopped at a red light and, to the complete and utter confusion of everyone on the bus, the whole fucking herd of them came charging toward the window. First there was bowing, then waving, then a slow progression into bigger and bigger hearts formed with various parts of the body. The bus was silent and everyone was watching, but I still couldn't help laughing out loud. Then I pointed to Minwoo and mouthed the words, "잘 살고 있는거니?"
I saw him mouth back, "네?"
I guess my accent is still pretty visible. I tried again: "행--복?"
I saw, "아~! 넹~! 선생님...?"
"네. 정말 방가방가!" I knew he would catch that one, because he used to die laughing when I would say it when I passed him outside of school last year.
The light turned green and they all waved and bowed as we drove away. Then, a few stops later I got up in order to give my seat to a grandmother and some cocky young asshole stole it instead. The mood was pretty much ruined, but I tried to remember that even my favorite students have had their not-so-shining moments.