Being Unprofessional is Fun in Theory, But Embarrassing in Practice


Most words that end in ‘ism’ are really bad.  Racism.  Alcoholism.  Terrorism.  Sadism.  Masochism.


A couple weeks ago, my school informed me that all teachers in Seoul had to attend a mandatory training that would be held on a Saturday morning at 9 AM.  “I can do it!” I told myself, in a ‘go get ‘em’ kind of way.  Last year the idea of making an early Saturday morning training would’ve seemed as hopeless as trying to get a dog to pee without raising its leg.  Why would anyone want a dog to pee without lifting its leg, you ask?  Well, why would I want to go to a training on Saturday morning?

“Because,” my conscience told me, “you are an adult with a good job and you have to be professional.”  I tried to tell my conscience that I am professional most of the time and that it isn’t fair for my job to expect weekend professionalism as well.  One can’t argue with the conscience though; it can either be ignored or listened to.  I chose to listen this time.  “Be a good and responsible employee,” it said, “and get to that training at nine…please.”

To do that, it probably would have been smart to stay home Friday night…and I would’ve…but it was TTD’s birthday and everyone was going to be out.  So I trekked down to Incheon, firmly believing that I could show face, have a few drinks, and call it an early night.  Easy, simple, and responsible.  Adult.  Hard-working.  That 53% guy would’ve been proud, cause this whiner was suckin’ it up!

But unfortunately, as I’ve learned quite a few times in the past, my conscience tends to lose interest in doing its job.  Without going into detail, let’s just say Friday got a little wild and I woke up Saturday morning in a place I’d never been before, twenty minutes prior to the start of the training (it would take about an hour to get there).

“Oh no!” I said to myself.  I texted my boss and jumped in a cab.  I reeked of cigarette smoke and was still in the same clothes I wore to school the day before.  After the hour long cab ride into Seoul, the idiot cabbie got lost and suddenly we were driving around and around Insadong.  We went by all the little shops and the Palace.  It was like a sightseeing tour.  Or a date.  The guy got so lost that he turned the meter off.  By this time, I was two hours late for the training.

I started texting my boss and doing some serious apologizing.  I didn’t make any excuses and took the blame.  The cabbie pulled into a vacant alleyway and turned to me.  “I don’t know,” he said.  I wanted to cry.

“Where are we?” I wondered out loud, defeated.  I wasn’t even angry, just desperate.  “Where am I supposed to go…there’s nothing here….”

In response, he drove back onto the street and let me off there.  Miraculously, I was able to find the building where the training was.  It was scheduled to end at1:00.  The current time was11:15.

“I’m so sorry!” I shouted to my boss when I saw him.

“Look at you,” he said, putting his arm around me.  “You drank too much last night!”

I tried to explain that I really didn’t drink that much (lies!) and that I shouldn’t have stayed in Incheon and my phone alarm didn’t go off (or maybe I slept through it).  “Why didn’t you tell me you were in Incheon?” he asked.  “I would’ve said to you ‘Stay there.’  The training is not that important.”

If I had a gun, I would’ve shot myself. “Why do you make life so hard for yourself?” I thought.  “Why does everything have to be a fucking adventure?”  My boss and I drank a cup of coffee together and then I went inside for the last hour or so of the training.

Stepping into the auditorium, I looked out over the sea of foreign teachers in Seoul.  Some turned their heads and looked at me.  I sat down quickly.

“Fuck,” I said to myself.  “I’m that guy.”  In Korea, there is a stereotype that the Western teachers are all immature lushes, here to party and try to pick up Korean girls.  In an auditorium full of my peers, I was the one who stumbled in late, unshaven, and disgusting.  I was the stereotype.  It was humiliating and it sucked.

A lecturer spoke for another hour, and then the people who organized the training had a big raffle.  I sank down in my seat and prayed that I wouldn’t win anything.



18 thoughts on “Being Unprofessional is Fun in Theory, But Embarrassing in Practice

  1. Love this post. I mean, I love all your posts. Since we had our first proper meeting last week I have been catching up on your blog and I can’t get enough! But seeing as we met originally at least twice under the circumstances of this Friday you just described I can firmly say I understand.

    I think you should embrace this possible stereotype which may or may not have stuck with you. I am late, not shaved, and usually smelling of some brown liquor and although you were in the unique and terrible situation as Sat. work it looks like your boss realizes how lame it is for you to come into work on the weekend.

    Cheers. In all the ways that can be used, Cheers to this post.

  2. Yeah, everyone at my hokwon is really cool. They’re the nicest people ever. I’m trying to not take advantage of that and work hard and everything.

    Thanks for the comments, Lexi! I looked at your blog briefly – blown away by all the crazy Korean stuff! Take care : )

  3. Lol! This is just the kind of situation where you would, for once, get ‘lucky’ and win something in the raffle. I can see you now doing the walk of shame all the way to the top of the auditorium, only to be presented with your fluffy toy prize, followed by the mortifying trip back to your seat trying to avoid the dagger eyes of those who’d been there all morning!
    Well done for writing a proper funny blog!

    • Yeah, every one had been sitting there for hours, and I wander in with 45 minutes left and win the raffle. It would’ve been classy. Then maybe I could’ve tried to pawn the prize (whatever it was) for some booze money, that would’ve looked good. Shoot me.

      Thanks for the comment and the compliment, A the Power! I like you, but I would prefer if you spelled it “tha” like the hip Americans do. A tha Power. Just a suggestion. You can choose to ignore it (as that would likely be a wise decision).

      • I have been considering your suggestion and also your suggestion to ignore your suggestion. I have decided to go with ‘A de Power’. It is more unhip Irish than hip American which suits me better, but you can take full credit for the change! Cheers!

    • Yeah, teaching in Korea is a pretty good gig. The job is easy and the life is pretty stress-free. The public schools are cutting back on hiring foreign teachers, but these “hogwons/hokwons” (which are like tutoring centers) still have a lot of jobs. I dig it.

      My boss is the coolest. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Virtous!

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