T is for Turtle

| May 3, 2014

It’s the end of the semester, again. How many more beginnings and ends of semesters do I have to go through?

When I was working full-time before, never thought I would ever go back to school again. The best thing of being out of school was not having to take midterms and finals, didn’t have to procrastinate and slide in handing in papers at deadlines, nor had to worry about grades. But going back to school happened so unexpectedly. It happened when I decided to leave my current job, friends and family, and come to the U.S.. I decided to take the change before being deprived of motivation or energy, as well as having other obligations here.

I used to work as an art curator at the Seoul Design Foundation that was directly affiliated with the Seoul city government, so the atmosphere was pretty bureaucratic and several city officials were dispatched to our office. Every morning we had to stamp our finger into the machine that was installed next to the main entrance door of the office. The machine would automatically record the exact time, min, and second of when we first came and entered the office. If we came later than 9:00:00am – like 9:00:01, we were officially “late.” If you were late more than four times a month, you had to submit a “letter of apology.” I remember writing those letters because I was so bad with consistently keeping set rules like that. I think it kind of made me more resistant and at times I would intentionally not keep the time. I remember walking really slow towards the office when everyone else was running and rushing in to catch the elevator. When I was early I was really early like at 6am or 7am, being the first person to come to the office and to greet the cleaning ladies. But when I was late, I was late although I would often come in between 9:01 and 9:05am. But then I got tired of writing apology letters- it was one of those things that made you feel really stupid, and it was a bit embarrassing too. I think it made my division boss embarrassing if I was late, so then I would try to be on time.

It was the end of the year, so the entire company rented out a restaurant (pub) to celebrate. They made up all of these awards and were calling up people and giving them presents. The next award was the “Turtle Award, ” I was suddenly called up to the front as the recipient. It was the award for the person who was late the most throughout the year. When the director was offering the gift to me, he told everyone to do things with certainty and with distinctiveness like me instead of being luke warm (he said a Korean expression that is hard to translate). It was a bit awkward, but I got my prize worth fifty dollars.

I think I’ll be the Turtle awardee again for this semester too :) I don’t think I’ll be able to post all 26 by tuesday (and to be honest, I think I was more about seeing of how things go…) , what will happen if I don’t and what will happen if I do? Can I still get my prize (in terms of learning or anything… what is a prize anyway?) out of something either way?