I feed the beasts some word puzzles and while they tear each other apart, my mind melts into the white paint on the wall. It is six something and I have taught nine classes today. Two of them weren't anywhere on my schedule, but I taught them anyway, because I am a slave for children.
Walking home. I'm two blocks from my dumpy little flat where a clogged toilet and a 50-pack box of Quaker Oatmeal await me. It's like the afterlife. But first, I stop for a bowl of take-out kimchi stew. When I get inside the restaurant, the owner guy approaches and embraces me. What? Oh, right. This man befriended me whilst he was staggering drunk one night several weeks ago; I think it was a Tuesday. He insists that I stay and eat at his restaurant, so I do. I'm sitting by myself and in Korea, this means you are insane. The table of high school girls next to me bubbles over with giggles.
The owner guy asks me if I want a cup of coffee and I say yes. I wait outside in the cold, breathing clouds. He comes out and hands me a little pee cup of sugary milkwater and then practices his English on me for half an hour. He seems to know 30,000 vocabulary words, but not how to pronounce or use them. He embraces me again, says he is very jubilation, and asks me to come by his restaurant every day for good pood. I say sure.
A block away from home, I stop by the bakery for a cornbread thing. I'm browsing the cornbread thing shelf when the door opens behind me and one of my middle school students walks in.
"Teacher. Buy me pood. Puh-lease-uh," he says.
Ordinarily, I would drop a quip and disappear into the night, but my will is so decimated at this point that I cave in and buy him a pig-face cheese danish. He says thanks.
"One day," he says, "I buy you pood."
I'm in the convenience store across the street from my apartment. My canned coffee rings up for three bucks which strikes me as vaguely ludicrous, but I'm too spaced to argue. As I pull my wallet from my back pocket, it vomits all my cards out on the floor. While I'm bent over trying to claw the cards up off the tile with my untrimmed fingernails, five Korean geezers cut in front of me in line. When I finally get out of there with the coffee, I'm stopped at the door by a woman holding a gurgling fetus/baby thing that's about six hours fresh from the womb.
"Excuse me," she says, "please talk to Jae-Min."
Jae-Min: [ogles, spits up on self]
Mom: Say hello, Jae-Min!
Me: Hello, Jae-Min!
Mom: Say hello, Jae-Min!
Mom thanks me, bows, and walks away.
I shut the door and lock it behind me. I'm home. On the dining room table is a 50-pack box of Quaker Oatmeal. In the bathroom is a clogged toilet.