Monday, November 2, 2009

A Worst Day for the Books

Boy, have I got a day for you, my readers.

I'm still kind of in shock, looking back on it. I think I'm mostly in shock about how not-upset I am. I mean, this was a worst day that someone could make a movie on. It all started this weekend, when my scooter broke down.

I came back from Halloween in Gwangju on Sunday. I was ready to go home, relax and lesson plan. I hopped on my scooter, turned the key and hit the ignition. I made it about 10 feet before I knew something was wrong. It wouldn't accelerate. So, I brought it to my school (a very slow trip, but I made it), which is a mile closer than my apartment. I talked to the guard and explained that it was broken (after assuring him that, yes, there was gas in it and, no, I did not put gas in the oil tank and oil in the gas tank). No problem. Someone will look at it on Monday.

But that means I have to walk to school. No problem. Only a mile.

Cue Monday morning: unseasonably cold, windy weather and rain. The second day of rain since my arrival to Gurye. Perfect. Of course. But, with my happy yellow umbrella, I walked to school. Braving the cold, the wet and the flocks of students.

I sit down at my desk and realize that I left my PowerPoints at home. Not really wanting to devote 40 minutes to walking back, I told my co-teacher I would just take a taxi (probably $5 round-trip) to which he said that he would take me after 1st period. But I had 2nd period class...

So, I was late to my 2nd period class. My lessons were fun but all fell short about 10 minutes. Entertaining students on the fly when lessons run short is the most anxious experience of my life. But I did it. Three times.

A group of six boys in my second class (which is always a nightmare) were being uncooperative and disrespectful. I'm usually not a fan on physical punishment, but perhaps the cold rain walk, my scooter woes and my first class lateness put me a little on edge. I made the boys stand for the rest of the 15 minutes of class in the back holding their chairs over their heads. And I punched the back of another student who was causing mayhem in the class. Both punishments are (a) standard and (b) not that bad.

Lunch was meat, fish, meat soup, fish kimchee, rice and seaweed (I LOVE rice and seaweed, so I was okay with that). Due to organizational problems, I was late to lunch and missed out on a glass of wine.

My co-teacher told me after my last class that I would need to bring the scooter to a special mechanic (who was cheap). I told him that I'm pretty sure the scooter wouldn't make it there (the mechanic is on top of a hill on the other side of town). But he didn't quite get it. So, I hopped on the scooter, revved it up and started out.

The scooter made it 10 feet before dying completely. Excellent.

So I pushed the scooter the mile to the mechanic. I pushed the scooter around honking cars, screaming children, mocking old men and up up up some steep steep steep hills. Not really knowing where this mechanic was (the directions were: between your apartment and the Tae Kwon Doe center a quarter mile away), I took a wrong turn and found myself pushing this heavy, resistant scooter up the steepest hill I've ever seen. Finally, I crashed.

But instead of doing the kicking and screaming thing, I just broke down laughing. I laughed so hard that I lost control of the scooter and just let it slide to the ground on it's side. I kept laughing, unable to breathe until tears were streaming down my face (where the icy wind dried them raw). I laughed and laughed and laughed, sitting on the broken heap of my scooter until a nice farmer in his Korean pick-up pulled over and asked me what I imagine was something along the lines of, "What the hell are you doing laughing like a crazy person with a dead motorcycle on the steepest hill in Gurye?"

The nicest man ever called a mechanic who came and replaced a bulb of some sort from my scooter. The nicest man ever talked to my co-teacher and explained what was going on. The nicest man ever wouldn't let me pay for the mechanic. The nicest man ever is the reason why I'm not still insanely laughing on the steepest hill in Gurye and the reason why my scooter (knock on wood) works for now.

I made my way back home, ran 10 miles in the icy wind and finally felt ready to relax.

I think it's terrifying that, despite everything that happened today, I never felt like I was having a bad day. I think I realized it on Steepest Hill Ever; that's when everything came together. But before that, it was just an ordinary day. I would even say that I thought it was an unusually happy day for me. (One of my favorite students demonstrated that he could shoot his gum into the air and catch it upon landing, which entertained me and my class for a solid 5 minutes. Another student told me he liked my pants and another student told me she liked my shirt.) As far as I'm concerned, my bad day wasn't that bad at all.

I guess it just goes to show that some days, you feel like fighting. Other days, you don't. So you take what you can get and let life happen accordingly.

Okay, here are some pictures from Gwangju.

Where's Waldo!?

Lauren went as an Ahjummah (old woman). Her costume was perfect. $5 pants that looked like they were probably once curtains, two tacky sweaters, an e-mart bag carrying random items and, the cherry on top, a glittery visor.

Posing like an ahjummah


  1. I'd say the word "insanity" covers this day. Why on earth would you even consider pushing the motorcyle that far? Then run 10 miles? I just don't get it. I guess you found your way and that's all that matters.

    Love you!!

  2. Amy, do you realize that you are 1/3 of your way to the end of this experience. You have grown so much in this short time. You know we love ya, girl. You are a strong woman!
    Love you, too.

  3. I got tired out reading it. Kudos for you chugging through all that and the "nicest man ever" but what was your co-teacher thinking telling you to take the broken scooter to the mechanic (without helping you find a way to get it there)?

  4. Hi Amy, love the Halloween costumes. I would have loved to see the looks you all got while you were commuting to the party. Between the oil change on the scooter, and now the repair, hope you are good for a while. Soon, you may be able to do your own repairs.

    Love you, and try having a better week.

    Love, AS and UJ