Saturday, December 09, 2006

Portrait of the Sham Teacher, As a Teacher

3:26 PM -
Sips his instant coffee. Glances at the clock. Puts down his book. Sets to work emptying his pockets of cellular phones, loose change, the crumpled receipts of compromising purchases ... Deposits them into a hidden backpack compartment. Drops the backpack and kicks it under his desk. Seconds later, a pigtailed grin bursts into the teachers' lounge with a search warrant, shoves her hand into his pocket, comes up with nothing, sticks out her tongue and screeches off into the distance. Nods, sips his instant coffee.

4:19 PM -
Notices that the new six year-old in his phonics class has a small but distinct cannabis leaf embroidered into the back of his sweater. Sits in the front of the classroom pondering this as the kids horse around with fire extinguishers. Bell rings. Gets up, opens the door, finds the door handle covered in yellowish slobber. Wipes his hand on his pantleg.

"Fuck," he says.

4:43 PM -
The ten year-olds are tapdancing on their desks. Stops writing on the board. Face reddens. Eyes narrow. Whirls around, throws an eraser, kicks a desk, screams, "Michin babo-ya!" Roughly: "You crazy idiots!" The ten year-olds laugh, laugh, laugh, sense their fleeting lives are in grave danger, continue to laugh ...

6:07 PM -
Is summoned during dinner to teach a middle school class. Grabs a greenish book from the shelf and enters the classroom to find four heads faceplanted into desks. Asks the heads a barrage of questions, no answer. The lights drone; he whistles, reads the graffiti on the walls. Asks another barrage of questions, no answer. Wishes he had a samurai sword to impale himself upon. For lack of one, turns to the markerboard and draws a stick figure, begins to tell the story of his life. The story starts like this:
"In March of 1983, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, there was born a very fat baby. That very fat baby ..."

7:14 PM -
Is writing on the board with his back turned when a nine year-old boy charges, rams the pointed end of an umbrella up his ass. Lets out an anguished growl. Kids laugh. Stands stunned for several seconds.

"Well," he says, "you got me."

7:35 PM -
Takes a bathroom break. Unbuttons, unzips, whizzes. Stares out the open window at the spazzing lights of the city. Notices it is extremely cold. Notices it is snowing. Notices what he perceives to be an icicle dripping down from the window frame. Curiosity entices him to reach out and touch it. Finds it to be a wet strip of toilet paper.

"Fuck," he says.

7:49 PM -
Talks briefly with a Korean coworker, an English teacher who speaks no English. Tries out his Korean, says something mildly offensive. Korean coworker is amused, says, "Kisu! I am shocking!"
Nods, smiles. Thinks, "We are all students."

8:13 PM -
Grades a 4th grade listening test.
(Student's answers are underlined)

Leroy: Do you know Evel Knievel?
Sangmin: No, who is he?
Leroy: He's that gay on the motorcycle.


8:43 PM -
Sits at his desk with headphones on, listens to Silver Jews, reflects on another inconclusive year gone by. A very short girl bursts into the teachers' lounge, snatches his headphones, puts them on. Stands grimacing for several seconds. Removes headphones, hands them back.

"Teacher, no," she says. Disappears.

9:15 PM -
Nibbles on cornbread thing. Forty-something Korean teacher looms over his shoulder for several minutes, finally gestures and pidgins that he would like a piece of the cornbread thing. Breaks off a bite for Korean teacher, gets up, goes out in the hall to refill his coffee. Comes back. Korean teacher is gone. So is the cornbread thing.

9:42 PM -
Interviews new foreign teacher, Melissa Something, via Director's telephone. Director stands just behind him, featherdusting.

"How's Daegu?" asks Melissa Something.
"It's disgusting," he says, "but, I'm that kind of guy."
"How's the school?"
"The school," glances back at Director. She smiles, featherdusts. "is chaos. But, you know."

No comments: