Monday, June 27, 2011

I think the Translator hates me.

Or at least has no confidence in my ability (which I think quite fair).  I haven't written much about her because she hasn't been interesting; until recently she continued to translate nearly everything I say and be predictable and easy to work with.  She did once chastise me for pointing with my index finger but other than that it was smooth sailing.

This semester I teach the school's youngest students with her and she seemed to enjoy it.  She was indulgent and cheerful and real extra pleasant.  Then in April her behavior started to change.  She failed to appear for a few classes and when students asked me where she was I had to go fetch her from her office.

Soon she stopped having a good time and became less involved in our co-educational enterprise.  These changes were remarkable enough that I considered asking her about it.  I assumed she was tired or overworked, two common problems for employed Koreans, and thought maybe she'd appreciate some friendly concern.  But our relationship isn't a talking about personal situations sort of deal so I decided it would be wiser to stay out of it.  I wasn't going to hassle her.

In late April I stayed home for two days with food poisoning.  My first class back on the job was with the Translator and it was a rude surprise.  At the start she said nothing to me or the students, proceeded directly to the back of the room (she normally stands at the front) and spent the rest of our time together giving me a baleful stare.  If her eyes were capable of shooting out laser beams my goose would've been cooked.  She was like radiating unlimited hatred at me.  Imagine the sun, except instead of spraying visible light into space in all directions it just sprays hatred of you personally in a beam focused on your face and instead of the sun it's a Korean woman in her mid 50s who was friendly and pleasant to work with two weeks ago.

This was all just too big a matzoh ball hanging out there.  During a free moment I sneaked to the back and asked her, in a totally sincere manner, if she was feeling okay.  Staring rigidly forward at a point many degrees leftward of my face, she said "Not okay."  I told her, with a look of genuine concern she probably couldn't see with her peripherals, that I was sorry to hear that and asked if I could do anything to help.  She shook her head.  And still didn't look at me.  Awk-ward.  I taught the rest of the class with no verbal input from her--the non-verbal was plenty, thanks--and when it was over she left.

Since then her hatred seems to have dimmed a little, i.e. I can't read by it anymore.  Being done with this semester's tranche of textbook, I deployed a one-off lesson on syllables last week.  It was definitely a useful lesson.  The Translator sat through one showing of it, at the back of the room looking annoyed, and the next day told me she'd teach our remaining classes of the week alone.  I realize this was a vote of no confidence but hey, the kind of enemies I want to be surrounded by are ones who hate me enough to lighten my load.

Today, as I was preparing for our first class of the week, due to start in 8 minutes, she came into the room:

TRANSLATOR:  What material are you going to teach?
ME:  I planned a review game.  To prepare for the final exam.  [finals start Friday]
TRANSLATOR:  [looks to the right for a moment] I will teach the students in their room.

Does this mean I'll teach 5 fewer classes this week?  Fingers crossed!  Still, it's a bummer things have gone sideways.  I hope she's happier with my replacement.

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