So I guess we're outta here... Despite the fact that none of our executives are happy about it (some are ambivalent, some are pissed) we are still being booted. What a strange organization. An event is set into play that benefits noone, yet it cannot be undone. Jo actually called Jane and said we could work for 30 days so that we could be given notice. Jane said no. Jane was also meeting with Mr. Min today - the exec that likes us the most (he also likes Jane) and has the greatest opportunity to change things. I shan't call her the name I'm thinking about right now. Anyway, it seems as if Mr. Min, who was our best hope, is unable (unwilling?) to help us. So in one hour I will say good-bye to LG. It's quite sad - I hate what Jo has put us through, but I generally like my job and I really like my students. Kim Jun-ho, one of my exexs, says I should be positive - this could lead to better opportunities. I suppose change is equally likely to be positive or negative. But with the surplus of awful hagweons in this country, I don't know how good our chances are. We'll make the best of it I guess.
Maybe tomorrow, I'll wanna settle down. Until tomorrow I'll just keep movin' on...
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
So, we are fired again. We got a call from Jane last night. She told Barb that Jo had decided we would be working until the end of the month, and then they would be finding new teachers (through Jane's school interestingly). Yes, that's right, the end of the month. Which means the end of the week. Which means two more days of work (Friday is a company holiday). Fired with two days notice, nice.
We told Jane, for the umpteenth time, that she needs to give us 30 days written notice or 30 days pay. She went off, saying that we broke our contract, yadda, yadda, yadda. We told her what we've said over and over again - we didn't break our contract, and even if we did she still needs to give us 30 days notice. Barb asked her for a meeting to talk about our unresolved contract issues. Jane said she just wanted to talk about it on the phone. Barb pointed out that A) It's not professional to do it over the phone and B) there are two of us, it's not fair to just talk to one of us on the phone. Jane said she would only talk on the phone, and would not give us our notice. Barb told her, "Jane, you can either meet with us to discuss these issues, or we can go to the labor board," to which Jane replied "Fine, you go your way, I'll go mine." So that's where we were left.
After the conversation with Jane we typed up a letter to her outlining what we feel is necessary if she wants to terminate our contract. We went to the hagweon and dropped it off, but she wasn't there. We have documented everything that has happened in this sordid affair (not just on our Blog) and are preparing for a labour board hearing. Here we go...
Sunday, May 25, 2003
I had a Matrix weekend. Barb and I made plans with Rhonni and Pete to go and see Matrix Reloaded on Saturday night. In order to prepare for the movie Barb and I rented the original Matrix and ordered some Domino's Pizza. It's been a while since I've seen The Matrix so I had forgotten almost everything except for the basic plot concept. The movie is still awesome a few years later. A little more cheesy-looking and a little less awe-inspiring. That probably has a little to do with the fact that The Matrix itself has spawned quite a few cliches of it's own. Overall though, it's still a great movie to watch and it's nice to know that movies that weren't hyped to death before release can still become classics.
Watching the first movie definitely helped with Matrix Reloaded. I didn't have to spend any time trying to remember what had happened. Our seats for the movie were dangerously close to the screen (Korean theatres have assigned seating). I thought I might get an aneurysm, but I adjusted fairly quickly. Barb and I went with Rhonni and Pete, plus our friends Colin and Lilli. I think half the waygook population of Gumi was in the theatre with us though. The movie was amazing. The action was incredible. I was worried they would just rely on the same old bullet-photography/wire-fighting technique that made the original so cool - but that's been done to death in the past few years. They definitely stepped it up though. The martial arts in this movie blow the original away. The fight scenes are just damned cool. Reloaded has the kind of action scenes where you actually want them to end, because you need to blink and relax; you're tired of the adrenaline building up. The motorcycle scene with Trinity is amazing! Some of the people I went with said they noticed the computer animation a little too much. I'm usually really sensitive to that, but I didn't notice it in Reloaded. Maybe my eyes were too fried from being too close.
As far as plot goes, I've read a few mediocre reviews of the movie. I was worried that it would fall into the usual middle-of-trilogy constraints and would be a victim of The Matrix's popularity. This was somewhat true, but not to the extent that many of the reviews had me expecting. The story was really good (i don't think I would use the word great) and was only cheesy at certain moments. Neo's conversation with the Architecht of the Matrix (Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil anything if you haven't seen it) was a little forcefully complicated and the overall plot had a "I can be as good as Star Wars" legacy-making to it. There seemed to be a lot of laying the groundwork for possible prequels, Star Wars style, as well. I don't think the movie was as good as the first, but it was damn close. The story was really interesting, and it's the kind of movie you feel you need to watch again to really "get" (read: bling, bling for the producers).
The main things that bothered me in the movie were:
-Neo's flying thing (seen at the end of the original Matrix) - It's cool, but too Superman-y for me
-Morpheus' prosthelitizing in Zion - far too cheesy
-The Architect's speech - most reviewers felt this was the high point of the movie (except for one Australian dude) but I though it was pretentious and purposely overcomplicated
-An overall plot concern that I won't mention here because it'll give away too much.
Despite some bad reviews, and the fact that my fried Sarah fell asleep in the movie, I would highly recommend seing Matrix Relaoded. You probably won't like it as much as the first once, but you're really missing out if you don't see it. I'll probably see it again and It'll be on my DVD shelf when it's released. Oh, and if you're looking for another movie to see, go to X-Men 2. Man, this summer is sweet to us geeks.
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Today Barb and I went to Geumosan (geum-oh-sahn; the mountain in Gumi) with Rhonni (from Wales) and Pete (from Peterbourough). There's a gondola that spans part of the montain. We had never taken the gondola before, so once we hiked up to it we decided to take a ride. The gondola only goes partway up the mountain, but it was a nice ride nonetheless. We then hiked up to a small temple that's on the mountain and looked around. It was surprisingly peaceful for a Sunday at Geumosan. The goal of our journey was to see the waterfall at Geumosan. The last time Barb and I were there was in January, and the frozen waterfall was really cool. There's also a really cool little cave with a buddha statue in it. You have to clamour over some perilous rocks to get to it. There's a railing, however, so it's not really that dangerous. We climbed up to take a peak, but then it started raining. None of us were wearing jackets, so we didn't really want to continue up the mountain in the rain. We hiked back down and headed home, but at least we got some exercise.
Firday night was the usual drill - we went out to Club Psycho. There was a surpising number of waygooks we didn't know there. Our friend Brad from Daejeon (couple hours from Gumi) showed up and our friend Ryan's new girl (also from Daejeon) came as well. We stayed out until about 4:00am. Damn last-callless Korea.
Friday, May 23, 2003
I just finished watching a soccer game between the Purchasing Team and the suppliers they deal with. The suppliers won 2-0, but it was fun to watch nevertheless. I stayed late at work to watch it. It was my first social event with the Purchasing Team, which is too bad, because I've been sitting with them for five months now. They went hiking last week, but I missed it because I wasn't at work (stupid Jo!). Mr. Lee (Lee Hang-sang), who's the head of the Purchasing Team, actually played in the game too, as did Andy, the guy who sits next to me. Mr Lee is a very interesting fellow. He's very active and a very passiobnate person (which means lots of yelling). I guess this would be my first live soccer game in Korea - hopefully I'll catch a pro one soon.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
You should read this article on Leo Strauss, a philospoher who has had a great deal of influence on American Republicans. Also check out Morris' comments. Strauss has had a strong influence on neoconservatives, but one of his main detractors, Dr. Shadia Drury, is one of my favourite profs at the U of C.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
In other news Cougar discovered in SW neighborhood. I've seen many a cougar in the Southwest... But on a serious note, "If tranquilization doesn't work, officials say they may have to resort to lethal force"? Umm, I'm no expert but I can think of other ways to get a cat out from under a car. Has anyone thought of a big old bowl of milk?
High cost of speeding driven higher - Speeding in your Yukon and scarfing down McDondald's. Is there anything more Albertan than that? Ralph would be proud...
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Neighbours growing apart - Apparently American and Canadian values are not converging as much as we all think. Not the most objective article, but the data is interesting nonetheless.
So we're somehow back in semi-employed limbo, even though we're back at work. We started at LG again on Monday. We weren't banned from the bus or the gates of the company or anything, so the SARS paranoia hasn't hit too badly. The atmosphere here in the Purchasing Team is perfectly normal, although the same can't be said for Barb in the Training Team.
We were told to come back to work, but that we would only be teaching our executives this week, and not our group classes (save for my Purchasing class). We both enjoy our group classes, so it was a little disappointing. Since we've been back, Jane has been to the plant and has been in and out of meetings with people in the training team. Jo is apparently away for education (overseas, ironically...) and God forbid she deal with this in the two weeks she had. So Barb talked to Jane (I don't know exactly what was said) and she said that we will be teaching just our executives, probably until the middle of June. Now we were originally told that we would be starting our classes again after this week, but now it looks like no classes for us. It seems, in my opinion at least, that we are now re-fired. Or at least maybe re-fired. I'm not sure when anyone plans on telling us exactly what's happening.
I'm not sure where the logic in this whole thing is, or who exactly this benefits. We are back at LG, (presumably) being paid, yet we're not teaching our group classes. This doesn't benefit our students, as they have had their semester interrupted and have new teachers that are unexperienced with them. It also doesn't benefit the company, as their employees aren't getting the best training. We would be leaving our jobs (for a reason unrelated to teaching performance) and would be replaced. Our executives would then have to readjust to new teachers, who probably wouldn't have any experience. This also doesn't benefit the executives or the company. So if this situation plays out, the only person I can see benefiting from this is Jo. She can feel like she "showed us" for going to Thailand, at the expense of the company, its employees, and executives. Doesn't seem like a smart move by a low-level manager to me.
Our executives don't seem to know much about the situation. None of my executives thus far has seemed mad at me for missing the two weeks. In fact Mr. Cha thanked me for the "break." They're far to busy to be upset at having more free time. My group students are obviously confused about why I am not teaching them, especially now that I am back. I've been emailing them and trying to keep them updated. Some of them have also contacted Jo and asked her why I'm not teaching them. They seem to want me back, so that's a good thing. I could maybe understand if they replaced us within the timeframe we were gone from the company, but now that we're back it seems silly to replace us. What do they gain? Jo gets to assert her righteousness? Pile o' crap if you ask me.
Our executives all seem to like us pretty well, at least most of them. I'm assuming if Jo tries to fire their teachers (for no good reason) they will be pretty upset. At least I would be, were I in that situation. Add to that that the group students will be complaining and we've got quite a bit of support in our corner. Not to sound vindictive (ok, I am being vindictive) but if she tries to can us, I will ensure it's hell for her. Jane and Jo already got heat for trying to fire Ammaron, one of the previous teachers, and they even had a good reason for that (student complaints). Mr. Lee Hang-sang, head of the Purchasing Team (who likes me a lot too) essentially made them keep him on.
Jo and the Training Team are not our only problems. Despite the conciliatory nature of our last meeting with Jane, she is right back to being irrational about the whole thing. She's doing her usual non-listening and asking questions that have been answered hundreds of times. She has provided us with no help in figuring out what's going on and has told us nothing. She's crazy I tell you.
Sunday, May 18, 2003
So, we apparently go back to work Monday morning (i.e. in 6 hours, maybe I should sleep). For reasons unbeknownst to any reasonable person, we're going back, but we're not teaching our group classes - just our executives. Who knows what adventures the semi-return to LG will bring? Out of the frying pan and into the fire? Most likely...
Thursday, May 15, 2003
I am currently sitting in Lotteria in the city of Busan. Lotteria is a Korean fast food chain a la McDonalds, BK, etc. I am waiting for my order of a Crab Burger combo and playing on the computer. What a strange country. Oh well, let's see if it's as good as a McLobster. Ah, my food is here, time to go!
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
So, uh, I guess we are back in employment limbo. We had our meeting with Jane today. She was being very conciliatory and everything went fairly smoothly, although there was a bit of a bumpy ending. She started out the meeting by asking us what we expected when we got back from Thailand. We told her that we didn't know exactly what to expect, but we knew there was a possibility that we would be fired and that we were willing to take this chance when we left. She also asked us (essentially) why we did not respect her authority when she asked us not to go. She was confused with why we asked her for a day off, which seems to suggest we respect her authority, but then didn't listen to her order that we not go to Thailand. I tried to tell her (without losing my temper) that I don't just do things because people tell me to. There are legitimate requests and illegitimate requests. If I told Jane where she could go on vacation, she would obviously not listen to me, because I don't have the authority to do that. I said that although she is my boss, she does not have ultimate authority over me. I don't believe she can legitimately tell me where I cannot go on vacation. Even if I did believe she had this authority, I would still not believe it would be legitimate for her to tell me the day I was leaving. I would also not believe it was legitimate for her to tell me not to go somewhere for arbitrary reasons, like we were told with Thailand. She didn't say much, and I don't think it added much to her understanding. The whole idea that someone would question their employer's authority just seems completely foreign to Koreans. They don't seem to think that the fact that the anti-Thailand policy is ridiculous and illegitimate should factor in to it at all. Your boss says "jump" and you should say "how high?" not "why?" Oh well, the conversation got better after that.
Like I said, Jane was much more amicable than she had been on the phone. She stated that she wanted us to all put our emotions to the side for the conversation and talk reasonably. Coming from hysterical Jane this was welcome news. She said she wanted to rethink what she said yesterday about firing us and work towards a solution that would be best for everyone - us, her, the company, and our students. She said that perhaps that meant us finishing the semester (end of May), or maybe even finishing our contracts. She wants to find a solution that ensures no one regrets the relationships we have developed. She said that Mr. Lee (Jo's boss) still does not know the details of the situation, and he will be the one to make the final decision. She said she will talk to him about her idea and let us know what happens tomorrow. It's hard to believe that Mr. Lee actually doesn't know what's been going on
We weren't really sure what to expect with the meeting. One of the scenarios we ran through was being offered to finish the semester. We weren't sure exactly how to feel about it. It's a bigger deal for Barb than me. She has to work in the same office as Jo and Mr. Lee. I'm in a completely different plant altogether, and there's really no awkwardness for me going back. The thing is, if we are offered our jobs back, we can't really say no, because then it would be us breaking the contract and we'd have to give 30 days notice anyway. So if we do get offered our jobs back, we will probably take them.
There are substitute teachers at the plant right now teaching our group classes we're not sure who they are, but Gumi is pretty small so maybe we'll find out. Jane said that it was Jo's decision to get the teachers to fill in. Jane said that Jo has been in a very bad situation since we left for Thailand. Jane claimed that she had to miss her vacation with her husband to work on this problem and has been working on it ever since. I feel bad for causing Jane all this trouble. Jane didn't make up the stupid rule and was basically forced into trying to enforce it. I don't have any remorse for Jo however. If the English program is such a big part of her job, why the hell doesn't she do anything with it? For our five months here all she has really done is make a schedule for us. We have received no training and no resources. And she missed her vacation and has been spending all her time working on this? Doing what? All she seems to have done is not want to talk to us, not come up with any solutions, and seemingly not even talk to Jane. So she cancelled her vacation, went to the company, and sat on her ass going, "woe is me, the teachers went to Thailand, how could they?" for two weeks? Sorry, not much sympathy from me.
So, Jane is supposed to go and talk to Jo at the plant tomorrow. She is going to suggest that we be allowed back, even if it is just for the rest of the semester. She is going to call us at 14:00 and let us know what's going on. Once we had all that settled the more troubling aspect of the conversation started. We have still not been paid for April, and our cheque was due on May 10th. We worked a full month in April (and I had 37 hours of overtime), and none of this kurfufle occurred until the end of that pay period. There is no reason that we should not have been paid on May 10. We had already expressed to Jane that we needed to be paid. Barb and I discussed our different demands (in the event that we were to be fired) before we met with Jane, and getting our April pay was obviously at the top. If Jane doesn't give us that pay, we can take her to the Labour Board, which is something she obviously would not want.
At the meeting today Jane said she wanted to pay us half of our April pay, and give us the rest at the end of the month. When asked why she wanted to do that she told us it was to prevent us from running (fleeing the country). She said her business would be ruined if she asked Jo to let us back and then we bailed. We were obviously flabbergasted by this. First of all, we have completed the April pay period and we are owed that money. We were owed that money on May 10th. Secondly, you can't hold someone's pay to prevent them from doing something. Thirdly, why would we tell her we would go back to work and then bail? If we wanted to bail we'd just say "no" when she asked us if we'd go back, collect our money and then go.
Personally, even if I wanted to, I can't afford to be without my full paycheque. I have loan payments to make every month, and I needed that paycheque on May 10th. I told Jane this, and we also told her that in our minds (and in the eyes of the law) our April pay was non-negotiable. She said she understood and agreed but that she needed some assurance. We talked about it for a while and we were pretty deadlocked. We were very close to saying "Sorry Jane, you have to give us our pay, and if you don't it's off to the Labour Board." Eventually, however we (very begrudgingly on my part) agreed that she could pay me all my paycheque and Barb one million won from hers. Barb is to receive the rest of her pay at the end of next week. I didn't like giving in, but I guess we'll deal with it. Hopefully things start looking better now!
Monday, May 12, 2003
So I received another phone call from Jane tonight. She told me she wants to meet with us. We are going to the hagweon (hawg-wuhn, the Language School) tomorrow at 16:00 to meet with her. Should be interesting...
Well, we are apparently fired. We got a call from our Director, Jane, this morning. She was responding to the email that we sent her last night. She told us that she was waiting to hear from someone (Jo's boss) at LG about the exact details of the problem. Note that Jo told us that she told Jane what would happen to us on Tuesday. Jane said that if LG did not want us to come back she didn't want to employ us anymore. We told her that if she did fire us she would have to give us thirty days paid written notice, and that we also demanded Visa release papers. She tried to convince us that she did not have to do these things and tried to withhold our April paycheque (which was due May 10th). We have studied our contract quite closely and have consulted a couple Korean lawyers. We are well aware of what we are entitled to and what our rights are. We told her once again what we expected and that we would go to the Labour Board if need be.
Jane called us back less than a minute after the first phone call. Who knows what she did in that time. She told us that she had decided to fire us even if LG wanted us back. This is obviously a load of crap and this decision was made a while ago - but I digress. After this phone call I once again received a call from Mr. Han, our recruiter. He told me that I was going to be fired, yadda, yadda, yadda. I told him we deserved thirty days paid written notice, yadda, yadda, yadda. He tried to say that because "it was our fault" we would not get those things. While I (and the lawyers) would disagree with this position, it doesn't matter. Our contracts, and Korean labour law, state that we get thirty days written notice, regardless of how or why the employer ends the contract. I told him this, then had to actually explain to him what written notice meant (Well, Jane has to write us a letter...).
Following my conversation with Mr. Han, after which he obviously talked to Jane, we received another phone call from Jane. She was now much more flexible about our demands. We believe she is on thin ice regarding the legality of her position (We have contracts with her, yet we work at LG) so the last thing she wants to do is go to the Labour Board - especially if it means dragging LG into the debacle. This is a good thing for us. Hopefully we will be able to settle this as smoothly as possible and move on to other positions. I would really like to continue teaching my students, but I'm not about to make myself a doormat by blindly following my boss' stupid policies. Many people, like Luz, don't seem to have a problem doing this. We've already researched a couple more positions, and we will probably stay in Gumi. Who knows what's in store for us next.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Well, not many developments yet. I received an interesting phone call on Thursday from Mr. Han of the Etik recruiting company. Mr. Han was one of the recruiters who was involved in the strange chain of events that landed us in these jobs. Mr. Han informed me that he "heard we may not be working at the company anymore" and that we "may be fired." Well Mr. Han, you know more than I do. We have been trying to contact our Director, Jane, since Wednesday. She has not been answering our calls. Strangely enough Mr. Han was able to get ahold of her. Jane apparently told Mr. Han that she had yet to hear from the company about what was happening.
We finally got Jo to talk to us today. We called her and she told us "Jane knows everything." Professional as always, Jo would not tell us herself what the hell is going on (which leads us to believe that we are being fired). It is interesting, however, that Jane has known since Tuesday and has not seen fit to tell us. We have now spent one week in employment limbo - not going to work and not knowing if we will be fired. We sent some strongly worded emails tonight to try and illuminate the situation. We have already had some other job offers in Gumi so we're not too worried about not having jobs.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
Today is Buddha's Birthday! Happy birthday Buddha. It is his 2457th birthday if I remember correctly. What do you get the 2457 year-old deity who has reached enlightenment? Beats the hell out of me (if anyone has a good punchline for that, please let me know. The humour tank is a little low right now). To beat the blues that our employment-limbo have created Barb and I headed out to Jikjisa (jick-jee-sah) temple near Gimcheon (gim-chun) today. Gimcheon is just a fifteen minute train ride from Gumi. As you may or may not be aware, Jikjisa was one of our first trips in Korea in December. We met two monks named Mu-sim (moo-sheem) and Jang-myung there as well as a young Buddhist about our age named Won-hyo. We had tea with them and built a snow Buddha. So where better to celebrate Buddha's birthday?
Jikjisa was a quiet, solitary place in December, despite it being one of the biggest temple complexes in Korea. Today, however, was completely different. The place was swarming with Koreans, and a few other waygooks as well. There were colourful Buddhist lanterns everywhere. We wandered around for a while looking at all the buildings and prayer halls, and we both prayed inside the main hall. Eventually we ran into both Jang-myung and Mu-sim, who were both very busy with preparations for the day. We took a stroll up the mountain to Myung Jeok Am (myung-juk-ahm). Myung Jeok Am is a new conglomerations of temple buildings on a mountain adjacent to Jikjisa. Our friends took us there for tea on our first visit, and we wanted to see what it was like. There was a new (very beautiful) boddhisatva statue, and some of the buildings were newly painted. Myung Jeok Am must be a lucky place for us, because when I went in the prayer hall a nun (who knew no English at all) helped me pray and invited us in for tea. So we had a brief tea with the nun and some other Koreans (hongcha - black tea - strangely enough) and were on our way. After we came back down to Jikjisa we ran into our friend Won-hyo who was packing some serious video equipment. We speculate he was filming the Birthday celebrations for a TV station or the temple.
We were feeling a little hungry so we went back to town to grab some dinner (avoiding the generous meals the monks always offer us - we knew they were way too busy). We had some mediocre bibimbap (bee-beem-bahp - rice mixed with various veggies, egg, and pepper paste) which was overpriced for the tourist event; 5000 Won. We then went back to the temple.
As sunset approached the daily drumming ritual started in the temple grounds, with many there to watch. Following this the many plastic Buddhist lanterns around Jikjisa were illuminated. Then a (strangely Christian-ish) choir began to sing and there were many speeches that we could not understand. We then all lit our candle lanterns (crepe paper and candles, a winning combination if ever there was one) as well. What followed was quite enjoyable, more so for me than Barb. A huge candle-lantern parade began. Everyone walked two-by-two holding their candles, snaking around the entire temple complex. This went on for almost an hour. It was very beautiful as it got dark, although it was a strangely cold May night. I without my jacket (it is still at LG) was quite cold, but it was fun nonetheless. Following the parade Barb and I packed up and took the train back to Gumi.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Well, we still haven't heard any news. Our director won't answer our calls and Jo says she "doesn't want to talk to us" because she is upset. I think she is trying to set the Korean women's movement back a few decades by showing how professional she can be.
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Well, like I said, we are back from Thailand. We got in around 11ish Sunday night. As I mentioned previously our manager at the company, Jo, and our Director, Jane, tried to make us stay in Korea because LG placed Thailand on their list of locations employees cannot travel to because of SARS fears. When we were originally planning our trip we researched the whole SARS thing quite carefully. LG has a list of countries which, if an employee travels to, they must stay away from the company for 12 days. This is a SARS prevention measure, which makes some sense, despite the astronomically low chance that someone is going to contract SARS. The list includes countries like China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc. We checked before booking our trip and Thailand was not on the list - for obvious reasons. We did some detailed research and determined that there are no cases or suspected cases of SARS in Thailand. None. Neither the WHO nor the CDC have travel warnings for Thailand. The day before we departed Korea Thailand was apparently added to the list (we still haven't seen a copy of the list). I do not know why it was added to the list - the only theory I have is that one of my students (who is on the "SARS Task Force") panicked when he found out I was going to Thailand (because every other Asian country except for Korea must have SARS, right?) and had it added to the list. Some of my other students were worried that I was going to Thailand until I pointed out to them that yes, in fact, Thailand and Taiwan are two different countries. So anyway, after much arguing with our Director we ended up telling her we'd just stay in Seoul and Ulsan for the weekend.
On Monday we called Luz, our coworker, to tell her we were back (so that she'd know we were still alive, and yes, SARS-free). She told us that Jane had assumed we went to Thailand anyway, because we weren't answering our phone. Well, we didn't really think we would get away with convincing them we didn't go, but we wouldn't have talked to Jane on our vacation even if we did stay in Korea. Luz also said that Jane didn't want us to go to work on Tuesday and that she had been calling recruiters to find new teachers. Barb called Jane to let her know we were back (but did not give away that we went to Thailand). Jane said she called the airline and they told her that we boarded the plane to Thailand. Now while I would believe that Immigration in this corrupt country would have given her that information, I hold Thai Airlines to a higher standard. Plus, how would she even know which airline we took? Something seemed awfully fishy. We though maybe Jane was just bluffing to get us to admit we went, and that she made up the story to bait us. We were partially right. Barb called Luz back and figured out the upsetting truth. Luz had in fact told Jane that we went to Thailand. Luz, who we trusted, and who was the person who actually suggested that we lie, ratted us out. I could not believe it. We trusted Luz, we have defended her and stuck up to Jane for her in the past. Then she turns around and stabs us in the back. I can tell you how much that upset us. We thought we could put our faith in her and she ratted us out to suck up to the Director.
So, being turned in, we called Jane and told her yes, we had in fact gone to Thailand. She yelled and asked why we had lied to her (a legitimate question). We told her the truth - that she wouldn't listen to us, was harassing us, and could not accept that we were going to Thailand. Barb was the one on the phone but what I overheard was enough:
Barb: Jane, you wouldn't listen!
Jane: Ungh, what do you mean I didn't listen? I listened, I offered to call my travel agent...
Yes, listening indeed. Then as Barb tried to explain our situation Jane just kept talking and yelling and exhibiting more of her sensational listening skills. Barb asked Jane if we were fired (as Luz told us we weren't to go to work on Tuesday) and informed her that if we were, we required 30 days written notice. Jane then yelled some more:
Jane: Hire, Fire? Why you say that? I am your director and you treat me like this?
Barb: Well yes Jane, you're our Director, so why are you using Luz to tell us we aren't supposed to go to work on Tuesday?
Jane: I don't say hire, fire!
Jane told us to call Jo and ask her what we were to do. Now we really shouldn't deal with Jo at all. We have a contract with Jane. Jane has a contract with Jo. Jane should deal with Jo and we should deal with Jane. Nevertheless we called Jo. She told us she was upset at us and didn't want to talk to us... Umm, you're a professional, you don't get to make that choice. Maybe if this were Junior high and we were on the cheerleading team with you. But you have a job and that requires you to talk to people, even if you don't want to.
So this is our status so far: We have been told not to go to work. We have been told we are not fired. What does that mean? Who knows. But we did not go to work today. We called Jane and Jo and they would not give us more information. We called our executives and emailed our students to tell them why we were not there. What happens next? Who knows...