A Rant That Shall Score A "0.5"

Well, it’ll score that highly if I’m lucky. I have no wish to try to write a good rant, I just want to bitch and moan for a minute, if you’ll humour me. Of course, if you’re in fear that boredom might be a fatal condition, just don’t read this.

Anyway, here’s some background: I’ve been working as an English teacher in Korea for a year, now. The way these things work is like this: the director gets you a ticket to Korea, and then gets you a ticket back home when you’ve reached the end of your contract period. However, in my case, there was a slight fuck-up on the travel agent’s part when she got me my ticket to Korea, and she ended up getting me an open return ticket. Hey, that’s cool, at least I won’t have to worry about getting screwed out of my ticket to Canada.

After a few days in Korea, my director asked me to hand her my ticket. Hey, I can see the reasoning here: if you’re gonna pull a Midnight-run, do it on your own dime. Fair enough. I can dig it. So, I entrusted her with my ticket. Well, “entrusted” is a big word - the way I saw it, I had nothing to lose, since she owed me a ticket home, and if she were to lose mine, she’d have to buy me a new one anyway. So far, so good.

Now I must say that I’ve been lucky. There are countless horror stories going around about the treatment of foreign teachers in Korean hagweons (a private school where they typically only teach one subject). I was lucky in that my director always gave me my money on time, and in full. That is more than most hagweon teachers I’ve met can say for their own directors. I was lucky in that the apartment they provided me was clean, and relatively nice (though small, but this IS Korea, and since it’s free, I’m not gonna bitch about that). Again: So far, so good.

Anyway, I’m now at the end of my stay here. My contract expired, and I taught my last classes today. Knowing that my director (as far as I can see, that statement could read as “most directors in Korea”) tends to leave things to the last minute, I brought up a few issues with her a month ago:

1- My work visa needed an extension: I landed in Korea on October 30th, 2000. Even though my contract did not officially start until November 6th, the cum-dripping fuckwads at the embassy refused to give me a visa that started on this date (even though Canadians can stay in Korea for 3 months - IIRC - without any sort of a visa, so you’d THINK that I could get into the country without problems even if it were only valid as of November 6th).

2- My open ticket needed an extension: Since it was only valid for one year, I needed to get it extended so that I could finish the period of my contract.

3- I asked her to book me a flight out of Korea ASAP, so that I could know what date and time I was leaving, and so that I could tell my family and friends back home when I’d be back. After all, my mother (hi, MoodIndigo1!) is going to pick me up at the airport, and it’d be nice if she could have an approximate date and time, so that she could keep that period clear of other plans.

I brought this up on a Friday evening, and she said she would have answers to all my questions on Monday. Fair enough. Fast-forward to Monday:

Zaph: “Wangjangnim (polite Korean term for “director”), do you have any updates on what we discussed on Friday?”

Mrs. J.: “Huh?” (everyone at work knows the facial expression she likes to make whenever she knows very well what one is talking about, but feigns confusion in order to cover her irresponsible ass).

Zaph: “Well, did you call immigration about my visa?”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhh… not yet, no.”

Zaph: “OK, well, did you extend my plane ticket?”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhh… not yet, no.”

Zaph: “OK, well I’m saying this for you, you know? I wouldn’t want you to spend a lot more money in the eventuality that my ticket expires.”

Mrs. J.: (smiling) “Yea, I’ll call them tomorrow.”

Zaph: (smiling back) “OK, thank you.”

Anyway. To find out what happened Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, the following Monday, Tuesday, and on and on, until a few days ago, just scroll up and read the above dialogue over and over and over and over again, ad nauseam. Well, ad projectile vomit, is more like it. I didn’t believe it was humanly possible for anyone to utter the word “tomorrow” with such clocklike precision for so many days in a row. I kept bringing it up to her daily, because I thought that I might actually annoy her into making those fucking phone calls. Sort of like the old “are we there yet?” kids’ routine. Frankly, problems 1 and 2 listed above were more her problems than mine. The only one that truly concerned me was problem #3.

Anyway, assuming that some of you Dopers are boredom-resistant enough to have read this far, here is how each problem got “resolved.” Well, with one exeption.

1- November 29th, after we finished decorating for the Halloween party. It’s about 10 PM. I’m tired, hot, dirty, and perspiring profusely from all the work we just put into decorating the classrooms after a long, hard day of teaching. The last thing I want to hear is this:

Mrs J.: “Oh, you need to go to Dong-Hae tomorrow morning.”

Zaph: “Huh???”

Mrs. J.: “Yes, you need to go to the immigration office to extend your visa. It expires tomorrow.”

Zaph: “Wha-? But I asked you to call… Couldn’t you have told me earlier that I needed to go there in person?”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhhh… Yes. You need to go in person. It’s just a 40 minute bus-ride.”

Note: I am aware that it was naive of me to think that she could just extend my visa with a phone call, but she fucking COULD have mentioned this tidbit when I kept asking her to take care of it. ARGH!

So, here I am realizing that I have to get up in the wee hours in the morning, to go to some town and find the immigration office, without any idea as to where the unholy fuck it is. Ugh. Furthermore, I realize that I’ll have to wait that much longer to mail home the packages I’d prepared the night before. Fuck. Oh well. My girlfriend offered to take a day off work to come with me to the immigration office. That was, I must say, very nice of her. So, I have to get to Donghae, find the office, take care of business, and come back to Kangnung (where I live) in time to prepare my classes. Oh well. Who needs sleep anyway? Anyway, it all went well, and I did make it back on time. I was pretty much a zombie by the end of my working day, but hey! In the extremely unlikely event that immigration decided to come and check out our hagweon for illegal workers, I was covered! Yay!

2- My ticket extension: Well, she finally took care of that at the last possible minute. If she’d waited a split-second longer, the office would have been closed, and she’d have had to buy me a new ticket, or pay a handsome price for the extension of an expired ticket. I’m not sure how this works.

3- Now this is the part that makes me want to hire people to violate her anus with an entire construction crane. My motherfucking departure date!!! I’ve been asking the sorry bitch for ONE FUCKING MONTH to book my flight out of here. On a pretty much daily basis, at that! All I’ve been getting is “tomorrow.” Fuck!!! Did someone buy you a fucking novelty calendar, or something? Last Thursday, this short exchange happened:

Zaph: “Wangjangnim, did you call to book my flight yet?”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhhh… no. Not yet.”

Zaph: “Well, my contract is almost up, and I’m supposed to be leaving some time next week. My family would really like me to give them an approximate date and time of arrival, so that they can plan to pick me up at the airport.”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhhhh… yea.”

Zaph: “Could you PLEASE take care of that tomorrow?”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhhhh… yea, tomorrow.”

Zaph: “Thank you.”

Anyway, she asked me what day I’d like to leave (hey! We’re making progress!), so I told her that the 7th would be a good day. It would give me one day to take care of loose ends, and change all my money to Canadian dollars.

Anyway, last Friday, I showed something of a loss of patience with her. I entered her office, and this dialogue followed:

Zaph: “Have you called to book my flight yet?”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhh… no. Not yet.”

Zaph: “Well, I already told you that my family needs to know when I’m coming home. My last day is Monday, so I think we’ve officially entered ‘last minute’ territory. I’ve been asking you for a month, now. When CAN you take care of it?”

Mrs. J.: “Yea, I’ll go to the office tomorrow.”

Ah, yeah. Finally. Action. She’s going to physically take her bony little ass to the travel office, and book my fucking flight. Oh, well. Better late than never. After all, Korean businesspeople are known to always leave stuff to the last minute, but I’m sure she’ll come through.

Yeah, right, Zaphod. What are you, a fucking nitwit? What the FUCK makes you believe that things will be any different this time? Shut up, conscience!!! I trust my director!!!

So, this morning (Monday - remember the time difference), I went up to her and asked her if she’d taken care of it.

Mrs. J.: “I went to the office yesterday (WTF??? When someone says ‘tomorrow’ on a Friday, doesn’t that usually mean Saturday???), and they will give me an answer today, or tomorrow.”

Today or tomorrow, she says. Well, that’s just fucking peachy. I’m supposed to leave the day after tomorrow. I’ll have that short-notice with a side-order of fries, to go. Well… I might as well eat the fucking thing here, since it looks like I’m not going anywhere any time soon. Fuck.

Then, I remember that I better make sure she pays me tonight, because I’m going to want to change the money tomorrow. I do, explaining why it’s so important that I get it this evening. She tells me that she’ll pay me after we have a short meeting tonight. Cool.

So, I have my meeting with her. This time, one of the Korean teachers is acting as a translator. My director’s English is pretty good, but it seems that she feels more comfortable speaking Korean, and having someone translate what she says. Personally, I think she just wants a partner to help her out if she needs to make shit up as she goes along. Anyway, here goes the “transcript”:

Note: skipping the translator to make this shorter.

Mrs. J.: “Ok, they still haven’t called. I’m expecting them to call tomorrow or Wednesday.”

Zaph: “Wednesday? I’m supposed to leave on Wednesday!”

Mrs. J.: “Well, you might leave Wednesday, but there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to, since we haven’t had any news. The travel agent here has to coordinate efforts with the travel agent in Canada (WTF???), so that’s why it’s taking so long.”

Zaph: “What??? I might not be able to leave on Wednesday??? I’m all packed up, and I’ve sent most of my stuff home by mail. Are you telling me that I might be spending an undetermined number of days in a pretty much empty apartment??? I can’t stay here much longer, and now I don’t even know how much Korean money I should keep, because I have no clue how many more days I’ll need to survive here!!!”

Mrs. J.: “…”

Zaph: (impatiently starting to drum loudly on the desk behind me) “Well, there’s not much we can do about it now. However, I must remind you: I asked you to book my flight one month ago (here, she actually showed signs of being annoyed - something she rarely does, as she may well be the person they based the whole ‘inscrutable Asian’ stereotype on). I’d like to know - why didn’t you do anything about it then? You know that there are people back home who’d really like to know when I’ll return, and I don’t want to spend another damn week in Korea. I have important plans that were made, and I must get back home before the weekend. Besides, I may not be superstitious, but there’s no way I’m taking a flight on the 11th.”

Mrs. J.: (in a grandiose show of backpedaling) “I asked for the flight to be on the 7th, so we should get an answer then, and you should be able to leave on Wednesday without problems.”

Zaph: “Huh? Didn’t you tell me a minute ago that there was a very good chance that I wouldn’t be able to leave on Wednesday?”

Mrs. J.: “I shouldn’t have said it that way. I think you’ll leave on the 7th.”

Zaph: “But not necessarily, right?”

Mrs. J.: “…”

Zaph: “Oh well. I guess it’s wait and see, now.”

Mrs. J.: “One more thing: your replacement will be teaching a few classes tomorrow. Could you maybe come in and teach some classes?”

Zaph: (nearly doing a backflip) “Huh??? You’re joking, right?”

Mrs. J.: “No, not at all. But I’m not telling you to do it, I’m just asking you. You are free to refuse.”

Zaph: “Huh??? I’m free? No, I’m not free to refuse! You’ve put me on the spot! If I refuse, I’ll look like a total asshole!”

Mrs. J.: “No, no… you can refuse. I won’t get mad at you.”

Zaph: “I’ve been wanting to leave this job for nine freaking months now!!! You’re damn right I don’t want to spend another minute teaching!!! Now you’ve got me in a damn corner!!! Do you really want to know? NO!!! I don’t want to do it!!! Thank you very much for putting me in this position. Now I feel like a jerk.”

Note: My replacement is supposed to take all my classes as of tomorrow. For some unfathomable reason, she’s only given him three classes to teach, and none of them are mine. It’s not like she’s stuck. My replacement has been here for a week, and has received more training than most of us have. None of us got this kind of treatment, so what the godamned fuck is her malfunction??

Mrs. J.: “OK. Since he’ll be taking on most of your classes Monday, could you come in and coach him through the lesson-planning?”

Zaph: “Sure. What time should I come?”

Mrs. J.: “Lunchtime.”

Zaph: “I can’t do that. If I leave on Wednesday, I need to go change my money tomorrow at that time. If I change it in Canada, I’ll lose hundreds of dollars in the exchange. Besides, my girlfriend is taking (yet again) time off from work to come and help me out. He’s not teaching any of my classes tomorrow, so can’t I come in after work? (8 PM)”

Mrs. J.: “No. That’s too late.”

Anyway, we managed to bargain it down to 5 PM. That ought to buy me enough time to do most of the stuff I have to do then.

Anyway, that concluded our meeting. She went back into her office. I waited a bit for her to come and give me my money. I waited some more. Hmmmmm… Something is fishy.

I go up to her office.

Zaph: “Uhhhh… Wangjangnim, could you give me my pay, now?” Note: FUCK!!! I hate having to go ask for my fucking money!! It makes me feel about three inches tall!!!

Mrs. J.: “I’ll give it to you tomorrow evening.”

Zaph: “Huh??? I asked you about it this morning!!! I already told you that it’s imperative that I change my money tomorrow!!!”

Mrs. J.: (looking as if she were the one who should be exasperated) “OK… tomorrow morning. 11 o’clock. And we’ll have a meeting tomorrow after work about your departure.”

Anyway. I’m not sure what the point of this long, boring rant was. I just needed to vent this shit out, I guess. Fuck, if only she’d let me have my own fucking ticket a month ago, I would have booked the motherfucking flight my own damn self!

So, fuck you, dear director. Fuck you for making me feel more stress than I was already feeling during this hectic period of my life. Fuck you for making me have to tell my family that I still don’t know when the fuck I’m coming home. Fuck you with a rusty crowbar for demonstrating that I am not the most irresponsible fuckwad on the face of this earth. Fuck you for not simply taking care of it a month ago, as most fucking rational people would have done. In short, fuck you very fucking much.

Dammit, to recycle an old line of mine: if I stepped in a giant, steaming pile of you, I’d gladly use a piece of camel shit to scrape your filthy self off my shoe.

There you go. I’m done. This has been my longest, and most boring post in my history as a poster at SDMB. If you’ve had the courage to read the whole thing, you’re a brave soul, and you probably want to kill me.

Thank you. That was a good read. Very descriptive. Very educational.

And I share your rage over your director. Very well-told yarn. My best wishes to you, to getting the hell back home!

I’d rate this rant an 8.

Whoa!! That was not the reaction I expected, yosemitebabe! I expected people to do one of the following:

a) Stop reading after the first paragraph, and officially put my name on the “I’m never reading that useless fucker’s bullshit posts again” list.

b) Flame me profusely, and demand that I return the four minutes of their lives that they wasted on reading my rant.

c) Flame me mercilessly and demonstrate how my director’s behaviour is understandable, and that I’m a whiny sumbitch for making such an asinine rant.

Whew… so far, so good.

Sorry. you and I rarely agree on anything, but I always enjoy your posts.

I’m already shamefully underutilized at my job, so I have no problem spending a few more unproductive minutes reading your posts as I’m ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Hey, you’re talking to a veteran of six years of Korean hagwon managerial bullshit, so I can totally empathize.

Way to quote a kickass Floyd song in your post. :slight_smile:

Well, if you hadn’t written such a lengthy explanation/rant, I’d have thought this:
if I stepped in a giant, steaming pile of you, I’d gladly use a piece of camel shit to scrape your filthy self off my shoe.
to be a bit over-blown. As it is, I’m admiring your summation with a bit of awe.

Tranquilis, the main reason why I included that line was that I was about to submit my post, when I realized that I’d made no references to goat-felching, squicking, labrador-retriever-wanking, animal excrement - and far too few instances of anal rape with various decidedly-un-anal-stimulating-toy-like objects for this rant to even have it earn its 0.5 score.

So, I sold out and threw in the camel shit bit to score some pity points from the judges.


I liked your rant, Zaph. I hope you get home safely!


*Originally posted by gobear *

What a beautiful, simple summation of what working for a living feels like. ::wipes tear away::
Zaphod, your rant, although lengthy, was quite interesting. What was also interesting was how you kept hold of your patience for so damn long. Just so you know, she treated you with absolutely no respect, and you have every right to feel any emotion you care to choose about it (I, personally, would pick anger, frustration, and resentment, but that’s just me). Oh, that thing about asking for your pay making you feel three inches big? I know exactly what you mean. You owe me the money, dammit, you know when it’s due, just pay me - don’t make me beg like you’re doing me some kind of favour. Wankerwoman (your director, that is).
(Oh yeah, I hope you get home safely and on time, too.)

Good rant. Solid 8. I was going to say that it needed a bit more swearing to get a higher score, but after a bit of a re-read fuck was placed with some care. A solid rant.

I did like this line though.


I must agree, I can only give that rant a 0.5…out of 0.625.

I liked it because it is not some petty rant, (nothing particularly wrong with petty rants, just not as substantial), it has substance on top of style.

Excellent rant, except for the title: I’d give it about an 8.6 myself. Builds well, nice use of repetition, nice climax, but ending a trifle weak (Will Zaphod get home on Wednesday? To be continued… I don’t care for cliff-hangers)

One suggestion, and I don’t know Korean culture well enough (at all!) to know how this would fly, but in the past when stuck with a boss like this, the one thing that can motivate them is to sit there. For example:

Zaph: “Wangjangnim, did you call to book my flight yet?”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhhh… no. Not yet.”

Zaph: “Well, my contract is almost up, and I’m supposed to be leaving some time next week. My family would really like me to give them an approximate date and time of arrival, so that they can plan to pick me up at the airport.”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhhhh… yea.”

Zaph: “Could you PLEASE take care of that now?”

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhhhh…tomorrow.”

Zaph: “No. I really need it taken care of now. I need to make plans. It’s no problem. Really. I’m happy to wait for you to get a moment free to make the phone call. :)” (sits down in her office)

Mrs. J.: “Uhhhhh…I said I’d take care of it tomorrow.”

Zaph: “I hesitate to point out that you’ve said “tomorrow” what? three times now? My family needs to make plans tonight, so I’ll be happy to wait for you to get a spare moment to make that call. :)”

Mrs. J.: (thinks “bastard”) “Fine. I’ll call now if it’ll make you happy.” (and get you out of my office!)

Again, I have no idea how this would work in Korea, but it works pretty well in the U.S. as long as you’re careful to sound happy to wait for the boss to do their job. If you sound pissed, this doesn’t work at all.


I’ve nothing relevant to add to this discussion, but, I have to say, “Dong-Hae” is the funniest damn thing I’ve heard in a long time.

Oh, and good rant Beeble. :slight_smile:

Putting the boss on the spot is a big no-no in Korea’s neo-Confucian culture (thanks a heap, Chosun dynasty!). What you’re supposed to do is to preserve the boss’s face and the general kibun by requesting something in humble terms, recognizing that the boss is superior to you. Using the family angle is an excellent idea because to Koreans, respect for family, especially parents, is paramount.

However, since Zaphod is leaving and doesn’t care about burning bridges, he can be as pushy as he likes. At least he lived in a pretty area. Kangnung is close to the sea and to Sorak-san and Odae-san national parks.

They must have a branch in Japan, because I was treated the exact same way at the first school I worked for.

I don’t know if Korean offices are similar, but in Japan if you want something done, never ask anyone above the level of sub-manager for it, because it will never get done. If you ask directly, they may get offended (less likely if they’re used to dealing with us western barbarians), and if you ask humbly and indirectly, they will forget about it and later give you the same runaround you just described so well. The secretaries and receptionists are your best friends in cases like this.

Hope everything works out for you!

Thanks for your replies, everyone.

Unfortunately, the cliffhanger is still there: It’s now Tuesday, November 6th, 3:20ish PM. She gave me my money this morning, and I got to go to the bank to change it. In an hour and a half, I’ll be going in to talk to my replacement about the classes, and then I’ll be meeting with my director for Dog-knows-what. Hey, maybe she’ll have my ticket ready. insert sarcastic emoticon - but not the rolleyes, cuz I hate it

Fenris, thanks for the idea. I had a good chuckle when I pictured the situation. I doubt it would work, though. She’s probably more patient than I am.

Lateralus, If you think Donghae is funny, you’ve seen very little of the funny things you get to hear in Korea. F’rinstance, I thought it was funny enough when I had a student named Yoo Suk (pronounced: “you suck”), but it turned out nto be a fairly common name, so I almost don’t notice it anymore. However, the real kicker was when I had a new student named Beom Suk (pronounced: “bum suck”). Similarly, I was amused when I first got here, and noticed that one of the computers at the PC Bang (a room where people pay to go online) had a folder entitled “downroads.” However, that part stopped being funny the day I went to some nore bang (singning room - similar to a karaoke bar, except you and your friends get your own room, so you’re not singing in front of a bunch of strangers). One of the women there decided she would sing “Country Road” (the selection of music in English was very limited). The song starts, and our eyes turn to the monitor to see the words:

“Cuntly Load
Take me home

I spilled lots of beer at that moment.

OK, you lost me at Wangjangnim. Could you repeat all that?

Kidding! Kidding! Hoo, what a kidder I am! :slight_smile:

Personally, I’ll give the rant a firm 7.5 just for this:



Man, Zaph! Every teacher I know has been through what you’re going through! It sucks major kim-chi farting ass!

Although there ARE a few honest hagwons (YBM, Pagoda, We-day, etc.), most Korean hagwon owners/directors make the word ‘incompetent’ seem like a compliment… (and I was a director for 9 REALLY horrible months! Though I rather think I did a better job than most…:wink: )

Not to denigrate your experience, but I have heard (and personally experienced) worse here in Korea… at least they PAY you! They may be jerking you around in an inhuman manner, but it will get straightened out eventually… (I hope). I have heard of guys who weren’t paid for months and couldn’t leave because the hagwon had their passports and wouldn’t give them back!

Good luck! And if you decide to come back for another year (lots of teachers do, especially if they have a girlfriend) DON’T work at a hagwon!! Go for a university job… the treatment (while still sucking ass) is far better than at a hagwon… if you’re looking for work, e-mail me. Maybe I can hook you up…

[sup]That goes for any Dopers who are coming here! E-mail me before you accept employment!! I’ll look into the school that is hiring you and see what I can find out![/sup]

One question, though Zaph, couldn’t you have arranged the flight yourself? If you had an open-ended ticket, couldn’t you just tell the airport you lost it an get it re-issued with a flight date? (I’ve never tried, but it seems to me that you could…) Or did you just trust that your director would do it… not knowing that she would jerk you around this long?

Anyways, good luck man!! I hope you make it home tomorrow!!

obligatory flaming

You suck!

There. No one else would do it. Never want to let down a fellow dopers expectations.

Plato? Aristotle? Socrates? -Morons!

~Wrap yourself in black,
Listen to the Cure…
-Better Than Ezra