I snarled at my co-worker today, and I'm feeling totally guilty about it right now.
As I rushed into the office between my afternoon classes, I got the good news that our five new computers had arrived. With half the day gone, this was great news and I left the office expressing my joy.
"Why are you happy, teacher?" A student asked. She was waiting by the door for her teacher. A big part of a native speakers job is to interact with the students.
"I'm happy because I got a new computer," I said speaking clearly and at a speed appropriate for her English level.
I felt confident that she would understand computer (which is computah in Korean) but she gave me a blank stare so I repeated myself slower and more simply, "Computer, yeah!" tossing my hands in the air to show joy. Thankfully her friend jumped in and explained before I was reduced to a miming routine.
She smiled and nodded and said "good" with a thumbs up, and I was off to my class. Half way up the stairs several of my students surrounded me, two taking my hand while others fought over carrying the basket. They resolved the dispute amongst themselves, one carrying the books that had been in the basket, another the stamps, and so on. They want to talk, but they are learning short vowels and so, "hello teacher" is the extent of their conversation abilities. I talk to them anyway. Things like "lets go upstairs", "lets go quickly", and other things so they can pick up the words and speech patterns.
Later, after class, M1, M2, N and I stuffed little pumpkin buckets with five pieces of Halloween candy. Mrs. Q joined in and the five of us got a lot done in thirty minutes while chatting about the party. We're as excited to throw it for the kids and the kids are excited to have it. M1, M2 and N left to teach class, but M1's daughter joined in and then there was Manchild, a.k.a the co-worker from hell.
"I'll be glad to help," he said in his high pitched voice.
"Put two chocolates in the buckets with three suckers," I said.
He stood there, hovering, hands fidgeting, wanting to help but unable to take initiative. I explained what to do again and invited him to hop right in. Finally, after I had giving up and including him, Manchild hopped in by filling empty buckets with three suckers and putting them on top of the buckets that didn't have any chocolate in them yet. Sigh.
"Please finish these first before stacking more on top."
"Well, I have to finish the one in my hands first," he said petulantly .****
This is not why I snarled at him.
Later, I was trying to set up my new computer to shift the keyboard between English and Korean. (This is not the same as changing the computer's language.) The tech was still in the office so I asked him how to do it. The tech didn't know so told me it was impossible. That's a typical Korean response so I hoped on Google. In the meantime Manchild decided he would help and announced he was going to look it up, which I ignored. He announces a lot of things and we rarely know who he is speaking to anyway. (A. has been working with him to use people's names so we know who he is talking to, but, like so many things, Manchild finds addressing people hard.)
Suddenly he started giving me instructions from across the room and even though he didn't address me, I knew I was the target. Manchild has had two jobs in his 34 years, both of the call centers, both both of them didn't last and even though I was just across the room, he adopted his phone tech-support voice. I didn't snap at him then either, even though I was annoyed. Instead, I hunkered down in my ignore bunker. Unfortunately, it needs greater fortification.
"Go to start," he said again, this time like a call center rep handling a difficult customer.
"Thanks, but I really don't need a play by play," I said like a nice person being strangled.
"Yes, you do unless you want to come over here and take a picture of my computer screen," he commanded.
"I'm capable of using Google," I said. I no longer sounded like a nice person being strangled, but rather like I wanted to strangle him. ****My brain scrambled to soften the message and I found myself adding, "honey bunch," at the end, which made me sound both like a Superhero.... Sarcastabitch! Able to bring stupid people to their knees with her abrasive wit.
I felt-- feel terrible for talking to him the way I did and I want to apologize, but I can't come up with a way that he won't confuse me being sorry with an open invitation for him to be needy. Because when you're nice to him... boo! He's always there, going on and on... and on... and on... and.........................................on and needing your help with everything. But I have to apologize for the peace of the office.
And this is why you don't snarl at co-workers who drive you crazy.
*** I tried very hard not to use an adverb here.
**** If only it weren't illegal.
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).