Today was just one of those days at work. It started when when I was thinking about cleaning the whiteboards. Nobody cleans the whiteboards * so I try to clean the once in the classrooms I teach. Since we switch students and rooms every three months, this means I usually get around to all the boards once a year.
I've mentioned that we all could clean one board once a month or once every three months, but this is always greeted with silence especially when I mention it after someone laments that the boards are so dirty. Anyway this mild iritation has nothing really do this post other than thinking about white boards made me remember that the board in the Popping Idea classroom couldn't slide back properly because so many dry erasers had gotten stuck behind the wall. Pet peeve 1001: move the dry erasers before sliding the board back. Then they won't get back there.
So I mentioned the issue to Mrs. K because she's always saying we need to tell her about maintenance. She wanted me to show her and pulled out a secret stick. In the end we took down two boards and used the vacuum to catch about a dozen dry erasers. Then I cleaned the whiteboards and got grumpy. Cleaning whiteboards reminds me of all the other things laying around the school from camps and what that need to be put away but are instead, stuffed into the corner blah, blah, blah. I'm not a neat freak. I swear.
I returned to the office and Mr. M. was teaching everybody how to do the student grades graph. When I first arrived at the center the form was set up in Word and you had to copy and paste the graphs. It was really inefficient since Word has a tendency to rearrange text when you change out graphics. So one day while everybody was on Facebook (not saying I never piddle time away ) I set up an excel sheet for 25 students and ten tests. Then I set up a PPT and linked them so when the data is changed in the excel it is changed in the PPT.
I don't know why, but ever since Mr. M. has started working at the English center, he's been acting like he owns this. I guess it's because he thinks he knows more than I do. Anyway, previously when all the teachers but him were there when I made it, he would talk over me or I don't know. Just act like he knows what he's doing. That includes changing the function code. If a student has a zero it doesn't mean they got a zero on the test. It means they were absent. Anyway, whatever my failings with excel, I'm great at Google where I found several hand dandy zero exclusion function so zeros won'tt mess with the average and, most importantly, we don't have to calculate it by hand. I used this one =AVERAGEIF(C1:D12,"<>0") (Change the cell range) but this one also works SUM(range)/COUNTIF(range,"<>0") (Range means like G3:G:9)
Anyway, Mr. M. has gone around replacing this code and changing other things so every three months, teachers need help. I don't know whether he's effed stuff up so that his is the only help or what, but he sure acting like he's the one behind these charts.
Anyway, this has got me to thinking about taking credit for things. Most of my life, I never spoke up, I just did things and didn't care whether anyone knew or not... A few years back, when I was visiting Dori and Joan, I went with Joan to her church. After service, there was a meeting of church members and since I was with Joan, I sat in. They had apple cobbler so I was really excited. That's what living abroad does to you. Now that I've digressed from my digression, it's time to get this train back on the rails.
So one of the members at the church was really angry. He listed a lot of the things he did without being asked and without taking credit for it. His primary gripe was that nobody ever thanked him and in the same breath he was excluded from things. I've felt that way and so I could see his point of view. But I could also see that he did things and nobody ever knew he did them.
Until that moment I had always thought it egotistical to draw attention to the things you've done. But then I realized, it's also unfair to people when you get angry at them for not acknowledging what someone has done when they don't have a clue who did it. This happens a lot in marriages, I think.
Wife: Your laundry doesn't wash itself.
Husband and children: but it's always folded and put away.
It's part of human nature not to consider how things get done. When you buy a hamburger do you ever wonder how the trash gets into the dumpster? Doubtful, but you probably do notice when a can is overflowing. Rare is the thank you to the fast-food worker who empties the trashcan, it's their job, but unkind words flow when the job isn't done.
My conclusion is this: while one doesn't want to go around taking credit for everything-- that would be annoying, one does want to take credit for extra work they do. Otherwise people won't notice what you've done beyond your job title. What's more, they'll get made at you when you stop, because they've assumed it's your job since you've always done it.
* I have to amend this to say that Mr. M. cleaned one whiteboard once three months ago. I know this because he announced it for days and recently reminded everyone . Moreover, he would be offended not to get credit here.
On most days, Mr. M. is great to work with. I'm just rattling on about a few pet peeves today.
"Beeeeeeeeeeep!" says my phone.
"!$#$!," I say, and shout "Stop it at my phone."
It's a familiar sound associated closely with cartoon interruptions, "This a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test" and the less frequent actual tornado warning. South Korea sent me it's first emergency alert text a few months ago at about 2Am. I awakened, stared groggily at my phone, saw a message all in Korean, and decided that if North Korea was attacking South Korea, I'd hear about in the morning. A week later I remembered to ask what my text said. It was a Mers health advisory.
The emergency alert texts have been picking up of late. Today we got two separate ones five minutes apart with a heat advisory in two different provinces. The whole office was buzzing as all of our phones when off and we all uttered sounds of annoyance.
South Korea really hasn't thought this out. For example, a heat advisory is not an emergency. Texting heat advisories is not a bad things but combining it with the emergency alert sound... the old story of the boy who cried wolf, only this time it's a nation. And what happens when there's a real emergency? People will be so used to ignoring their phone when they hear that sound, they'll look at the message when it's convenient or delete it without looking, rendering what could be a great system pointless.
My last post was about Sarah, her cat and Canadian air. It hit home because one day I'll be leaving Korea with two cats. I didn't plan on having any cats, let alone two.... but then a friendly cat showed up outside my work and I took pity on him, had him neutered and named him Bear.
Geumbi, my personal cat from hell, is also my dearest love. Loved by a Korean woman, hated and beaten by her husband, she was given to a shelter with her litter mate who died. She lived in shelter a long time, and, after finding a foster, was returned three months later only to got into liver failure. (She did this again, after coming home with me.) Through all of this, she had a serious auto-immune disease. Pain was the root cause of most of her neurotic behaviors and the only semi-successful treatment was full tooth extraction. Nobody was going to take this cat. I mean Nobody. And if she went back to the shelter she would have died. The fact that I did adopt her does not negate that she suffered for years.
Anyway, because Geumbi is easily stressed taking her back to the states is a huge concern. I'm worried about Bear too because he may be too big to go under the seat and airlines have been known to crush pets... well, it's something I worry about.
And because I'm as neurotic as Geumbi, I am worrying about it now, perhaps years in advance. Sigh.
Ps: As I type, Geumbi Girl is laying with her head just by my keyboard, legs limp, eyes blinking cat "I love yous."
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).