18 April 2011

So you got to let me know... should I stay or should I go?

So it goes…

Many moons ago, I was a fresh-faced girl straight out of grad school, who longed for nothing more than to land a good job in a good school district. I sent résumés out to schools all along the East Coast, attended job fairs, made endless phone calls, and, generally speaking, jammed my big-ass foot into any door that opened even the tiniest crack. And I got requests for interviews… many requests… I was, for the first time in my life,[1] sought after and in-demand.[2]

I got so many out-of-state interview requests that I decided I would take a two-week road trip, and interview in-person at as many schools as possible. My first stop was Louisville, Kentucky. After a six-hour drive, I arrived in Louisville in the early afternoon. A little tired, maybe, but I was ready to go. My interviewer and Louisville city guide was a sweet man named Robbie who had the kind of gentle Southern accent that would have made me want to bear his children if he hadn’t already been married and twice my age. Robbie interviewed me, then took me to see the sights of Louisville.

Here is where I mention that I sometimes get carsick. Usually it isn’t too bad, just a little bit of queasy unpleasantness that’s generally manageable if I have fresh air in the car, and it isn’t too hot, and I don’t really eat anything before I get in the car. But… see… When we went sightseeing, Robbie had the air conditioning on in the car, making fresh air out of the question, and it’s kind of warmer in Kentucky than it is in Northeastern Ohio, so I was wearing a heavy jacket, and I couldn’t turn down the food Robbie offered me…

And so I threw up, right in front of Robbie. Not exactly in the middle of the interview, but close enough.[3]

This is the long way of saying that now, whenever I have a job interview, and I’m nervous as hell beforehand, I can always soothe myself with the following thought: Well, I probably won’t vomit like I did in Louisville. Because really… it doesn’t get a lot more humiliating than that.[4]

Anyway, I had my first job interview since I started job-hunting today. I wasn’t sure what to expect, exactly, because I’d never had an in-person interview in South Korea. Previously, the interviews I’d had for South Korean jobs involved awkward phone calls over fuzzy connections with people who didn’t necessarily speak English particularly well. Because I had to work until 4:40, and had an hour and a half commute to get to the university, the interview was scheduled for 6:30. With some sweet-talking to my employer, I got out of work a bit early so I could be sure to make it on time. By sweet-talking, I mean that I told them I had to go to the bank. Since the bank closes at four, I left work at three. This gave me ample time to get there, find the appropriate neighborhood, and sit at a coffee shop while I waited for it to get a bit closer to the scheduled time.[5] At six o’clock, I walked over to the building where the interview was to be held. I went into the washroom, and blew my nose four hundred times to make sure I wouldn’t have snot running down my face during the interview.[6] I checked myself in the mirror to make sure I didn’t look too old and haggard, no mean feat for a woman of my age and sleep-deprivation problems. Then I went upstairs for my interview.

The interviewer was one of those impossibly thin Korean women, with a friendly smile and a gracious manner. She led me to a room where we sat and talked. It all felt very casual and comfortable, but I also felt as though I was fumbling my answers a bit.[7] The interview went better than I expected, though, because I was offered a job, pending release from my current contract. I don’t know if they’ll release me or not… and I’m not one-hundred percent sure I want the job. It’s far away from where I am now, and it was indicated to me by a friend that I would be missed if I left the area.[8] The university seemed almost too eager to have me, and it all happened very fast… I left the interview in a quandary, stewing in indecision and doubt. I wandered around the campus a bit, to see how nice it was, before deciding to head back.

As I walked back to the subway, I passed one of those claw machines, where you can win a toy if you have the right combination of luck and skill. I decided that I would try it, and if I won a little stuffed radish, I would push hard to get the job. Yes, because I believe in juju, when it suits me.

But I didn’t get the radish, so now I don’t know what to do.

I have another interview on Wednesday, and hopefully that will provide me more insight.

And hey! I didn’t throw up on my shoes, so it wasn’t so bad.

[1] Only time, really.

[2] How did it feel? Totally bitching, thanks.

[3] I didn’t throw up in the car. I had enough foresight to prevent that, thankfully. But somewhere near the Louisville Slugger factory, I stood on the side of the road and puked my guts out. I even got spatter on my fancy-ass suit. Truly one of the greatest moments of my life.

[4] Incidentally, Louisville offered me a job anyway. Why? Because I’m a badass. Actually, I still sort-of wish I’d taken the job there. Louisville’s a nice little city.

[5] Coffee shops near college campuses are filled with college students. I sat there and read a bit while I drank my tea, and admired the students. They’re so young and pretty. It seems terribly cruel that they spend their time hunched over books and computer screens, studying away. They should be out in a field somewhere, frolicking like bunnies.

[6] One of the beauties of having bad sinus problems is that I spend all of fall, winter and spring blowing my nose incessantly. At times, I swear half my body weight must be comprised of mucus.

[7] At one point she said I seemed demure, and questioned whether I could be assertive enough to lead a class. I assured her that I become a different person when I teach, which I do. I will pretty much dance like a monkey if need be in order to get my students to learn. Yes, in real life, I’m pretty reserved. But, I’ve found, if you’re an introvert, you have to force yourself to have a knack for theater if you’re going to manage in any professional sphere.

[8] Though I’m pretty sure it’s not actually me that will be missed, but my cat. I can’t blame anyone for missing Kaiju more than they’d miss me. He’s both cuter and friendlier than I am, and generally more fun to spend time with.


  1. This has become my favorite serialized story. Can't wait to read more. Good luck finding something that suits you too.

  2. Thanks Loring. I knew if I upped the bodily fluid content, my biggest fan would appreciate it. ^^

  3. Getting a job interview in Korea is almost like being promised the job. In my experience if they like you they end up asking you to join that school on the spot. Just let them know a deadline of when you will have a decision and that you will inform them asap.

    I have moved 4 times since living in Korea and have had to get use to a new neighborhood and people. However with the great public transit I can meet friends anywhere in between. I wouldn't let your love for Suji keep you away from a job opportunity.

    Where is this University?

    Anyways get a few interviews done then make a decision. Have a list of priorities and see which one fits the bill.


  4. I guess I just expected the interview process to be more... rigorous?
    It isn't a great love of Suji that makes me hesitate. I've moved... nine times since I earned my undergraduate degree. I don't get attached to places, but I do get very attached to people, and have a hard time leaving them behind. That and their vacation time is kind of weak.
    Anyway... I don't want to say exactly what university it is, in case they're out there googling me, but suffice it to say that it's located about midway between Sangdo and Heukseok stations.