Daily Life in Korea 15

I can’t stand on two feet.

I am notoriously clumsy.  I have had more scraped knees as an adult than anyone I know.  I trip up all the time it seems.

Remarkably, it seems I only started tripping when I realized I could start tripping.  As a child, I don’t remember getting many injuries.  Most of my scars are post-adolescence.

But today, after taking a sick day yesterday, I fell to my knees on my way to work.  Literally, I tripped and ripped the tips of my shoes (which are too big for my feet) and landed on my knees.  My right knee  took the fall.  Torn tights and bleeding wound-still late for work, but now it seems so much more legitimate than just “over-sleeping”.  And the perfect excuse to take a cab.  But the Korean man who saw my tumble needed to ask, “What happened?”  (I might have liberally translated whatever sounds he uttered into that-mid shock.)

My co-teacher looked at my face and said I needed to take a rest.  Actually, I need to go to the nurse and get a band-aid, but we still talk about what happened yesterday and how sick I look until there is nothing more to say.  Then I point to my bleeding kneecap.  Off to the nurse I go.

The nurse is awesome because she likes me, talks to me, and offers me the use of her microwave when I heat my non-kimchi lunches.  But we haven’t visited since I relocated to the fourth floor and started eating cucumbers.  She also had heard about me resigning  … (if only I could eat Korean food well like Ping Ping’s husband).

So, I am sitting up on a sick-bed, getting my knee disinfected.  Alcohol is put on it.  And I need to have fabric pulled from out of my scrape.  The nurse tells me she is a registered nurse.  She asks if I knew.  I realized I assumed she was and I know better than to assume things in South Korea.  And more disinfectant.  There are literally four students lined up to see the nurse now.  The last boy got a big smile when he saw me and then respectfully bowed.  It must make a kid’s day to see his exotic white giraffe of a teacher with a scraped knee in the nurse’s office.  He just keeps smiling.  I try to ask him if he is sick.  Being talked to in English took that smile off of his face right quick.

The band-aid actually covers all of my knee.  I limped up to my classroom, but the teachers I work with are busy with their own classes which have already started (I’m lucky to have first period off).  So I limp off to the sixth grade teachers’ lounge.  There I drink green tea, look at a yearbook that I had to take my photograph for but which has no photograph of me inside, and eventually meet Gaby-a sixth grade homeroom teacher who is just that (her American friend gave her that nickname).

My American friend suggests I visit the doctor to confirm I don’t have a fractured kneecap.  I seriously consider this until he suggests that I merely exaggerating.  Which I am-I don’t need to be limping-but I do have my entire knee covered in the most giant band-aid and what else am I supposed to do with that.

So, off to my classroom where students ask if I am okay.  Because their teacher told them to ask me that.

And I’m off to teach.  And sit in a very short chair because my leg hurts.  And say the word “ball”.  Actually, today’s lesson was “It’s a ball.”   But the lesson title was wrote as, “It’s a Tall.”  Not kidding you at all.

After three classes, it is lunch time and then eventually I take a cab ride home.  I sat in the cab until the driver pulled onto the other side of the street where my building is.  Because I refused to jay-walk with my busted kneecap.  It is just a matter of principle.

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