Sunday, December 17, 2006

Working for the Weekend

Things are plugging along at work. I thought I'd give a little bit of an update.

Another payday has come and gone, and with it came another conversation with the boss about my tax and pension issues at work. My boss's husband is back from his long stint on a boat, though I've yet to actually SEE him. I was relieved he didn't come to this latest round of talks, as he doesn't speak English. Though he may be the director of the school in name, I doubt he has much to do with it these days. I was told, however, that he's pretty upset about the whole tax and pension thing, and that "he can't accept" the tax issue. *Bullshit,* say I. Let's get to the point, I thought, and questioned my boss.
"The 5% you take from my pay every month is for tax?"
"And you give that money to the government?"
"Yes." (What else could she possibly say? "No, we use it to buy cookies."
"So, whatever. I will visit the tax office and they will give me my money back."
She looked alarmed. "Did you go to the tax office?"
"No, but I will. I thought you could help me with this, but it's ok. I go there, fill out a form, and they tell me how much tax I've paid. They will refund my overpayment."
"I need to talk to my husband about this."

I called the National Pension office and confirmed that my employer and I would have to make back payments from the time I 1st arrived in Korea. Apparently my boss called the local Pension office, and they're willing to accept my enrollment from January 1st 2006. I suspect that would come with a bribe, as it goes against the law.

So, right now we're still at an impasse, but I'm going to push for a resolution before the end of the year. My boss suggested coming to some sort of middle ground on things, but I haven't decided if that's good enough. I know I'm stupid for not having realized all this stuff a lot earlier, but I just wasn't informed. On the other hand, it's my bosses job to abide by Korean employment law and not rip me off. Why should I settle for less? In less than 6 months, my contract will be finished, and the payout from my employer's contribution to the pension plan will be over 4 thousand dollars Cdn. And so far, I've overpaid more than 2.4 thousand dollars Cdn. in taxes.

I'm still trying to be very diplomatic and calm, but on the inside it boils my blood. Like Freddie Mercury sang, "I want it all. I want it all. I want it all. And I want it now!"

I like the new teacher, Joy, but I'm not so sure how well the kids are liking her. In the last couple of weeks, we've lost 8 students, and all but 1 have been Joy's. The middle school girls in my last class were really unhappy Friday. One of them had dropped out the day before because "she hate Joy-teacher." The girls told me that Joy's been rough with them, pinching and slapping them and pulling their hair. I saw it myself a couple weeks ago during the Speech Contests. I was sitting at the front of the room like I always do, and whenever I would shush a group of kids or lay my "Stoneface-Stare-of-Be-Quiet" upon them, Joy would amble over and knock on their heads or grab their ears. She would sit beside them and hold their hands, which was freaking all the kids out. This was, afterall, only her third day at the school!

But she does seem to be actually teaching the kids instead of chatting and eating snacks with them, like Gloria was prone to do. I wish I could convince the teachers to stop equating the sound of short i with the Korean symbol that's pronounced as a long e. I have such a hard time breaking that habit once the kids have had it drilled in by the Korean teachers. It's the difference between "slip" and "sleep," or "shit" and "sheet!"

Jane's strange, and we didn't have such a good week. She's not consistent in supporting me, and her mood seems to really dictate how helpful she's going to be when I ask her for something. Thursday night, she stood fixing a Christmas ornament for 30 seconds after I asked her for help with an unruly student. Finally she sighed and said, "What happened?"
Nevermind what happened! Just get the kid out of my class! (It's a long story and I don't feel like typing it out - but I had good reason to request the kid take a time out.) Just the day before, Jane urged me to kick out the students who keep making problems in this one class. She told me "Send them out! I'll talk to them!" and then I get no backing the next day. I just shook my head after Jane asked what happened (it was, afterall, the same thing that happens every class I teach with these kids) and said "thanks Jane!" and returned to class. Great. Now the boys have no reason to behave as they're aware there are no consequences for their misbehaving. So much for respectin' mah authoritay! I dread this class. (It's gotten worse since two classes were combined to make room for the group of middle school girls that Joy's kicking around.)

Just to end off on a strange note, earlier in the week, when I commented to Jane toward the end of the day that I was hungry, she cupped one of her boobs and offered me a drink. The more I think about it, the more weird it is. It's super weird, right?
Every time Friday rolls around I just can't wait to get the hell out of there.


Nomad said...

"she cupped one of her boobs and offered me a drink."

That's right up there with the penis sightings. I know I've said it before: Write a book, Jenn. I think you have more than enough material by now.

Nomad said...

And furthermore, I've told countless women that I was hungry and not one, mind you, not a one has ever cupped a breast and offered me a drink.

I feel cheated.

Jelly said...

Ha ha. Just after reading your comments I imagined you coming to visit, and me taking you to my school and saying "Hey Jane, this guy is huuuuungry!"
I feel cheated, too. I didn't actually partake in Jane's kind offer to feed me, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't get any nourishment. She hasn't recently - or ever - had a baby. I'm no scientist, but as far as I know - women aren't automatic milk machines.

It's Me, Maven... said...

I just imagine such things happening here in the US, and knowing how much of a penalty there would be for that tax thing. I betcha they are taking 5%, and not sending it off to the government, and figure you won't figure it out until you are long gone.

What dubious motherfuckers! And what would truly suck would be if your employer has been underreporting your salary by 5% and when the government finally catches on, you'll be stuck holding the bag for all the back taxes...


jane said...

Wow - so much of that post reminds me of my first hogwan... specifically the boob cupping (although they were more likely to cup the foreign teachers' boobs than their own) and the director's refusal to discipline the bad kids in any way. I had no authority whatsoever, and it was hellish.

My current school finally got rid of a korean teacher who sounds similar to your Joy: many kids have quit and cited her as the reason, and she was always pinching and hitting them... I'm hoping our two new korean teachers are better!