I did end up putting the post that I took down back up. As you can see. It's beneath this one. When I woke up Tuesday morning after having written it the night before, I just felt really bad about it. There's no reason to, really. It's not particularly mean. It's not as if I'm grinding my axe big time. It is what it is, and it's the fact, Jack. But I do feel bad.
Partly I feel bad because I'm tired. In general. I don't want to have to fight - especially for something that should be given to me under the laws of the land. It's not like I went looking for a way to squeeze more money out of my boss. I happened to just stumble upon it.
But that in itself really bums me out. I feel like I have been so naive, and because I like self-blame, I've been kicking myself that I wasn't better informed. I guess that while I was teaching in Japan I got really complacent about things being on the up and up. When something was required from me by the government there, my employers were all over it. I trusted them completely, and that trust was well warranted. They treated me well.
When I first came to teach in Korea in 2002, I was very suspicious. Almost a little paranoid, really. Reading the boards over at Dave's had scared the hell out of me. I was expecting to come over here and be ripped off and taken advantage of. I wasn't, though. As time went by, I let go of most of my fears, and then after moving to Japan I totally relaxed. Over time, back here in Korea, I've developed a really good relationship with my current boss. Like my bosses back in Japan, I find her to be fair and reasonable.
So this current situation makes me nervous. And frankly, disappointed.
I did talk to her on Monday. I pulled her aside during one of my short breaks and we sat down and I started off by telling her I was sure I've been paying too much tax. I was really calm about it and told her I thought that this error could be cleared up pretty easily. All we have to do is fill out some forms, and the tax office will surely refund my over-payment. The thing is, I question whether or not she actually submitted my taxes to the government. If she did, I kind of doubt she gave them the full amount that I've paid over the years.
She said that she thinks all the franchises in our outfit charge their teachers the same amount of tax. I told her that very well may be, but the tax rate is what it is. You can't make up a new number that you're going to levy on your employees just "because." (Imagine if I were back home, and my boss decided to charge me 50% income tax! Puh-lease!) "So," I said, "No worries. I'll just need your help with the forms. We'll sort it out."
Then on to pension. Yes, I answered, it's in my contract. Yes, I replied, I get all of it back when I leave Korea. She told me, quite unconvincingly, that she'd never heard of it before. (*Bullshit,* I coughed.) (Just kidding.) She told me she was going to have to confer with other directors. I told her I expected that. Someone suggested that the conversation might go something like this:
BOSS 1: I have this one teacher. Ech! I just wanted her follow our school's systems.
BOSS 2: Yes, yes...
BOSS1: But she ask crazy questions... wanting to know how much tax she pay...
BOSS3: Oh, you get the bad teacha...
BOSS1: Yes, yes, very bad... I tell her: "You don't worry. We like family. I take care all."
BOSS2: Yeah, "We family..." That always working good for the good teacher relations.
BOSS1: But she no! She, "I have family. I want my tax!"
BOSS3: Oh, very bad. Bad, bad teacha...
BOSS1: I know! She not listen anything I insist. Now she makes trouble with the pension now and she not do anything I says.
BOSS2: You try, "It's Korean way,"? That usually stop the wrong thinking.
HA! Truthfully, though, I still don't want to believe that my boss is like those bosses. She said a couple of times she was embarrassed. I believed her. She looked it. She didn't want to have the internet addresses I had ready for the government sites detailing tax and pension. I told her to take her time and get back to me, and that I was sure we would be able to sort this all out.
But then she looked at me and asked, "What will you do if I refuse?"
I told her that for every day she doesn't make things right, I will kill one of our students. No students, no income.
I'm TOTALLY joking. I love my students.
No, I looked back at her and raised my eyebrows and shrugged.
She may have taken that as "I don't know," even though that's not what I meant.
So we'll see what happens. But I'm worried about it.
I'll let you know what's going on when I know. Keep your fingers crossed for a calm and fair resolution. Or else there's going to be a chaotic and riotous revolution.
Cafe Marché - Bird Rock/La Jolla
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