Negotiations and ongoing bitching.

I don't want this blog to turn into me bitching about work. I have four months left and I'm a foot and three quarters out the door. But I do continue to be amazed at the level my coworkers will take things to. I feel like staying here for five years straight, and becoming as familiar with the job, the culture and the language as I have, I do get kind of a unique experience. Not to mention how fucking "unique" my coworkers are.

Take for example the translation tasks. This shit started about six months ago, when I passed my first TOPIK exam and my coworkers started to clock on to just how good my Korean actually is. In they started to trip, with pages of Korean text for God knows what personal purpose -- at times, writing exam essay examples for their classes (fair enough), and at others, somebody's fucking TEE essay that they're too cunting lazy to actually write in English, and which has nothing to do with my job or my students and everything to do with their personal credentials.

I entertained the ones that had to do with my kids. I put the ones that didn't into the trashcan under my desk and shifted befuddled through papers on my desk with the asker returned to retrieve their free translation. I just don't know where it could have gotten to.

Today, a contract teacher comes in with two pages of example answers she's written out for her students in Korean, asking me to translate the answers into English.

By the way, I spent the weekend at the emergency room in the hospital with a severely high fever and a monster case of tonsillitis, being fed steroids and antibiotics via IV. Which this coworker knows. It's Tuesday. The fact that I'm even at work at all is a miracle. One would expect that maybe a decent person could hold off asking personal favors for at least a week, while I struggle to just get through my daily classes.

But no. Not my coworkers. And it doesn't end there.

I took the paper initially to pretend to look over it and consider doing the translation, but I had no intention of actually doing it. I'm sick. It's hot. I taught five classes today. I have neither the energy nor the inclination to do somebody else's work for them, yet again. But I'll pretend. For the sake of peace.

She came back this afternoon to pick it up. I told her I must still be woozy from my fucking trip to the fucking emergency room three days ago and maybe it's all of the medication I'm on, since I'm so incredibly fucking sick, but the Korean is just too difficult for me. Her English is so much better than my Korean, so if she could just take a moment to rewrite the answers in English herself, I would be happy to edit them for her.

This bitch looks me straight in the face, does some poncey little shy smile gesture shit, and says, "Actually I'm really busy at the moment..." Giggle giggle.

Oh, are you? I'm sorry. Am I asking you to do me a favor? You're really busy at the moment? Well, gee, I apologize. I didn't mean to put you out by presuming to ask you to do your own fucking work when you're really busy.

Even so, my head hurts so much and I'm so sick so I really don't think I can translate this -- it's so difficult. But again, I will be so happy to do you the kind favor of editing it for you when you're finished translating it yourself.

Well, yes, but I have an open class on Friday so giggle giggle.

Well giggle giggle I'll be sure to edit the English version for you as quickly as possible.

She frowns. She takes a seat at the desk across from me and sighs loudly for about five minutes, at the end of which she stands up and leans over my cubicle. As she waves the paper in my face, I can see that during those five minutes she has written absolutely nothing down on the paper -- "What about just doing numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6?"

"I'm sorry. I'm really busy. But I'll be happy to edit them for you when you're finished."

Finally. she huffed out.

Getting furious because your foreign teacher won't translate your Korean for you. And on the other hand, I've got people cooing in my face about reading a syllable in Hangul out loud. Unbelievable.

But I'll tell you one thing -- I'm proud of how far this job has caused me to come in my ability to stand up for myself and be able to hold my ground when I know someone is wrong. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I'm getting older. I'm not 22 anymore and there's no reason for me to behave like I am when it comes to coworkers. But also I've never, ever had my boundaries pushed in such severe ways as I have in this job. The civil servant work culture here especially still relies heavily on job roles being determined by whatever older people do or do not feel like doing. And a lot of that goes horizontally as well, as I've come to find out, when you have shitty coworkers. Shifting shit around is part of the deal here, and shit is not as clearly defined as it is back home, which leaves a lot of room for lazy people to take advantage, if they have the balls.

And the only solution is to get your own pair in order, so that at the very least, you cannot be made to feel as though you're asking someone to do you a favor by declining to do one for them. Again. And by figuring out that there will be no end to it with some people unless you find a way to be slightly more infuriating and stubborn in these interactions than they are.

I wish I didn't have to have these types of conflicts at least twice a fucking week, but this is what this job is now. No exaggeration -- on average, two or three times a week, I have to stand my ground about something. Have one of these ridiculous pretend polite conversations. Negotiate my way out of doing something that is not my job. It's exhausting. But it is what it is. Ho hum. Six more weeks until vacation.


kawaii_candie said...

god, don't you just hate the passive-agressiveness??

you are a brave and strong woman and i respect you!! only 4 months!

(actually, if i was you, i would find a way to fuck them over as i leave early... ^_-)

3gyupsal said...

Five years and you never figured out how to say no to them? You really need to just abuse them into making them afraid to ask you for a favor. That's what I learned when I worked at a public school. If somebody wants to you translate something charge them a rate per page. That's usually the deal that you get for proof reading, and you are translating. If you do that they will learn to stop asking you quickly, or you can make some money on the side. Also if you don't want to do something tell them. If they say "Why, won't you do this?" Say "I don't want to," and then when they say "but I have a lame excuse," tell them you don't care. It really works.

I'm no Picasso said...

3gyupsal -- You seem to be a little confused about what happened. I did tell her no. Thanks for the advice though!