Scooter Fever

Well, if we’re not Facebook friends, then this’ll be fun news for you. I bought a scooter on Monday night. An acquaintance and his girlfriend are leaving Korea for good, and they were looking to unload his scooter on the cheap. Against some people’s advice, mostly due to the impending winter weather, I decided to buy the bike anyway.

Thursday, we met up and I got to test drive it. I’d only been on a bike once before, in German when I was 15. I was absolutely terrified, and ended up with a nasty 2nd degree burn on the inside of my calf where I touched the tail pipe. Before we met, I was slightly nervous about getting on the back of a bike again. Oddly enough, as soon as I got on and we were moving it all went away. We drove to the soccer stadium and I did a couple laps to make sure I could handle it, then parted ways and decided to meet up on Monday the day before he would leave, so he could pass the keys off to me.

Monday, around 7:15 PM I got the bike. I had initially expected that I would spend maybe a week or two driving on small streets, parking lots, or late at night when not many cars were on the road. Right after I got the bike, I decided to take it to the stadium, which is a pretty easy 5 minute drive. By the time I got there I felt so comfortable, I felt like I may as well drive all the way downtown and go to the language meet up I had kind of anticipated not going to.

It’s shocking how quickly I took to the bike. I expected to be nervous and pumped full of adrenaline. Honestly, it’s not even like a super exciting thing to do. It’s just really enjoyable. Part of it is the fact that I haven’t had a car in over 4 years, so just the freedom of driving is a huge deal. I can finally just get up and go somewhere and not worry about killing myself going up and down hills on a bike or waiting around for a bus and then taking half an hour to get somewhere because it goes so far out of the way.

Secondly, the degree of freedom you have within the flow of traffic on a scooter is ridiculous. My trip to downtown I was a little timid, but on the way back, I got much more bold. I was riding on sidewalks, in between cars and the curb, cutting to the front of lines at lights, running red lights, and even going into the on coming lane when there was no traffic. It’s just like the possibilities are endless. The travel time for a car and a scooter to and from the same place is completely different. It’s fucking awesome.

Monday, Mr. Lee came into my first class, the one from Hell. It’s been especially bad for the last two weeks because we don’t have Internet in that room for some reason. Someone came to fix it yesterday, though, so I hope it’s up and running again. Anyway, I had two students at the front of the class with their hands up, and another one at a desk at the front of the class to isolate him from the other students. When Mr. Lee came in, he told me I couldn’t punish students anymore. I was kind of taken aback. When I asked him what I should do when the students are being loud, misbehaving, etc… he just said “you should don’t care.” I don’t even know how the fuck he expects that to create an environment conducive to learning.

He told me that parents always call and complain that I punish their children, and the vice-principal of the school scolds him on my account. Yeah, okay. Too goddamn bad. This is literally the only class I ever punish students in, and it’s the same three students every day. When he came into class and I was disciplining them, the class was dead quiet and we were having a productive day reading. When he started in with the “don’t punish them” thing, in English, though I could tell the kids were picking up on it, because the longer he stayed in there and tried to fiddle with the computer, the crazier the kids got. They knew that I wasn’t really allowed to do anything to them.

So as soon as he left, I just went right back to what works for me. If the parents don’t like it, they can pull their kids. Honestly, if those three kids quit, I would not miss them at all. It sounds like a bad thing to say, but I’m not necessarily saying they’re bad kids. I’m just saying they’re bad students, and their presence in the classroom is a huge drain on what I’m able to do with other students, because I spend roughly 25% of my time in that class just telling them to sit down, be quiet, stop fighting, and then after several warnings, eventually disciplining them.  Mr. Lee said something about next week a Korean teacher coming into class with me to help out, but yeah, we’ll see about that. I’ve also been told that his hagwon was opening “next month” since I got here in March.

Also, yesterday I discovered that the printer in the 3rd floor room is gone. Apparently, Mr. Lee just decided to move it to his office. Sucks to our asmar, I suppose. Diane said that he said if we needed to print something, we could send it to him and he would print it out and deliver it. Yeah, like I have faith in that happening. Any time I ask for help or a favor, he’s just so terribly busy he can’t be bothered to do it. The day I put my faith in him and trust him to follow through for me on class materials being provided in a timely manner is a cold day in hell. Even the textbooks are like a day or two late.

Anyway, enough of the bitching. Tuesday I spent pretty much all day at work playing PowerPoint games. I’ve got shit all to do now, and seeing as how I can’t really make a worksheet for kids to do now, that’s about all I’ve got left. I also spent pretty much all day just thinking about getting off work so I could go driving. After work, I went to a nearby scooter shop and picked up a cover for my bike, since there’s no convenient place under an overhang to park my bike. I saw my bike selling new for 2.79 million won. I got it used for 550,000 won. Talk about a discount. That’s 80% off right there. After that, I got some gas in it. I think the attendant (all gas stations in Korea are full serve — you never pump your own gas) jokingly asked me for my driver’s license. As I have come to understand it, for the size of the scooter I have, I don’t need one. Then again, pretty much no foreigner with a scooter has a driver’s license. It’s not like police here enforce traffic laws anyway. 

After that, had a nice dinner. Went to a PC Bang to download the latest episode of Dexter, then drove to my hapkido class. All pretty normal, uneventful stuff. In hapkido, I had a level test. I didn’t know I was going to have one. Just had one. Apparently, I passed, though there were at least two things he told me I’d have to practice. I believe today I’ll be getting my blue belt then. Pretty sweet. That only took 20 minutes or so, and the rest of class was “free time”, which just meant me practicing on a body bag. Also, the master and some guest teacher taught me how to turn. It sounds ridiculous, but turning a perfect 180 degrees and keeping your back straight, head up, and stopping with your feet and shoulders in a perfect line is not that easy.

As class ended, I left the building, and slipped on a patch of ice  on the stairs. Landed right on my left arm and thigh. Hurt like hell. I was immediately not very excited for the ride home. When there’s ice on the roads, scooters are death traps. This much I know. I already told my master that I can drive to class now, but if it’s snowy or rainy, then I want him to pick me up still. Still, I think it was just the stairs that were icy. Usually, just the amount of driving that happens on these roads is enough to get rid of any morning ice. It was foggy as hell though once I got closer to home. It was creepy. I could barely see 30 yards in front of my bike.

Anyway, today is a short day. So I’m thankful for that. My last class is just finishing a movie, so I only have to prepare for two classes. I’m just so unmotivated to do it.

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2 Responses to “Scooter Fever”

  1. Karl Schlenner Says:

    Any pics of your scooter?

  2. Colin,

    Awesome you have a scooter. I’m thinking of getting a license here, because I don’t have one in the states, but don’t know if I’ll be here after October.

    You’ve got every right to be upset about your class from hell. But maybe you should look into behavior problems and what other teachers do to handle them–maybe you have and all hope is lost? I understand. I have a student who is quick to get angry/an attitude. Because I asked for help from literally everywhere (co-workers, my parents, and even an online search)–I found out that don’t have to deal with them too much If I don’t like something and it’s disrespectful to me or other students, the student has a talk with me outside the classroom. I put my “I’m not having it” face. They’d rather not go outside with me and know the next step is the Korean teacher, director or worse–a phone call home. They straighten up after that and understand rules aren’t to be broken.

    But hey I’m sure like me, you’re glad it’s the weekend! Hope you have a good one!

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