Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Doctor's and the Contract

This past week, two main problems arose, one regarding my contract, and the other, my health. Last week, as previously mentioned, I had a sore throat. On Friday it felt like my throat was bleeding with every word uttered, but I made it through my afternoon classes. Friday night I went out for dinner, used my voice a bit more, and on Saturday morning I completely lost my voice.

I stayed in all weekend, whispering only when needed. Sunday noon I started to become concerned about not being able to teach. Sunday night I had Ryan call our director (bless his heart!) to warn her. As predicted, Ryan was asked to wake up early to teach my first preschool class.

While he did that, our director took me to the doctor, which turned out to be a stone's throw from the school. I handed the receptionist my 'insurance booklet' and we sat down on some orangey-brown leather cushions. The room was quite 'stately.' A round mushroom-couch sprouted from the centre of the white marble floor, though nobody was sitting on that one. The wood cupboards and trim were of three dark shades. The door looked mahagony.

My director and I sat silently, not talking. She picked up a newspaper to read. Upon calling me in, they ushered us to a second marble-floored room, the same size as, and in plain view of the main waiting room. Around the large room were small doorways concealed with beige curtains. The doctor had a desk; beside it sat a dentist chair surrounded by a plethora of unidentifiable tools, and some more easily identifiable bandages, gauze, and the like. The tools were almost all long metal rods and large metal pliers. I went to sit in the dentist chair, but the assistant waved us to a secondary orangey-brown waiting couch in the corner. The doctor followed up with the patient before me and did some probing in her ears and throat, discussing her problems in front of my director and I.

Then it was my turn. The doctor was in his early to mid 30's, a little on the plump side, and pleasant. He spoke a little English. He checked my ears, and that was the end of the similarity between Canadian and Korean clinics. He then took one of the long metal rods. I opened my mouth, but he shook his head and instead inserted it up my nose. "To take a picture," my director translated. Behind me, a large, clear picture of my nostril appeared on the monitor. In it was a bump. "This bump," said the doctor via translation, "is blocking the air passage. Thus you breathe with your mouth and this can dry your throat."

Funny, I never knew I had a bump in my right nostril, and I hardly breathe with my mouth. Perhaps this occurs when I'm sleeping. Next, the assistant pushed me forward a bit and had me open my mouth. Then, to my dismay, the doctor picked up one of the longest metal probes (about a foot long) and pushed it into the back of my throat while I gagged. The doctor was smiling, the assistant and director giggled in sympathy, and I smiled as well, to ensure my love of this newfound sport would be conveyed through language barriers. The doctor had to try three times before he got a photo. Lucky I didn't eat breakfast, or he would have been wearing it.

A photo of my larynx, deemed 'swollen' and 'pale' appeared on the monitor, and the doctor presented me with a long list of what to do. It was all in Korean, but just so there was no mistake, he explained it to me (in Korean). Apparently I needed an anti-inflammatory shot. The doctor asked if I smoked, had allergies to shots, was diabetic, or heart palpitations. I said no (even though I do have a slightly irregular heartbeat). The assistant then took me behind one of the curtained rooms and gave me a shot in the derriere. I paid about $10 at reception; my health card covers half.

Then, as if that weren't already over-medicating a lost voice, we went to the pharmacy to get me pills (about $2). They come in little packages of four. I am to take 12 pills a day (!), for three days. As we walked back, my director told me that sometimes female teachers do lose their voice in the first few weeks, and acknowledged the first few weeks are tough (A big admission, if you knew what she's like). We returned to the school, where Ryan had just finished teaching my Y5 with positive results and Brent was about to teach Y3 (thank you guys.. next dinner's on me!)

I opted to take a sick day today, but not before spending an hour writing the day's lesson plans. I may need to take another sick day tomorrow, as my voice shows no signs of returning right now. My stomach also hasn't been digesting properly since last week, and I feel mildly feverish at times, but I'm not as concerned about those as they don't interfere with teaching as much. I was very worried about how my director would react to me being sick, and that she'd force me to teach with no voice, so this morning has been a relief.

Before I left for my sick day however, my director wanted to discuss my contract with me. Last week, she had privately asked me what my remuneration was. I told her 1.95 million won, as stated on the contract I signed and mailed in. She insisted it was 1.9 million and that Ryan’s was 1.95 because of his English major. Before we left Vancouver, both Ryan and I initially were going to get 1.9. Then, I asked for a raise. This was considered, and it was decided I would get still get 1.9 and Ryan would get 1.95 because English was his major. However, suddenly, near the deadline, the HR lady agreed to raise me to 1.95 and sent me the final contract which I signed and mailed in.

Last week, after my director approached me about this, I brought my copy of the contract and pointed to the 1.95. I also forwarded her my email from the HR lady that stated she was changing it to 1.95. Brent advised me to kick up a fuss and possibly threaten to leave. My thoughts were as follows: the contract stated 1.95, so they should be adhering to the contract due to principle. If they chose to change my contract, I wouldn’t push the matter, as the onus would be on the school to treat me better, knowing they screwed up. If they chose to adhere to my contract, that would be an extra $700 for me, for the year. Win/win situation.

“Oh no,” said my director today. “It is a mistake.. I made sure you would be getting 1.9.” She checked with the HR lady, who stated she had emailed Ryan AFTER our contracts were mailed in, to let me know mine had changed to 1.9 again. I had been in Tofino at the time, and she expected Ryan would tell me. I asked Ryan today and he never heard a word about this.

My director then took out the copy of my contract she had. She showed me how she had ripped out the page with my remuneration on it, changed the amount, and stapled in a new page with the lower amount. She had already submitted this new contract to immigration. My signature remained the same and I did not re-sign the new contract.

I was rather aghast at seeing my contract arbitrarily altered like that. I didn’t say much, but I made sure not to look very pleased. “Aw..I’m sorry.. are you disappointed?” she asked. I told her it was okay. There is now a mutual understanding that the school has done something illegitimate with my contract, and now the onus will definitely be on them to be nice to me. I will also feel less obliged to do unpaid overtime to finish up extra work.

To add hotsauce to the kimchee, I know that “1.95 for English majors, 1.9 for other majors” rule is BS. The couple we replaced were science and history majors, and they were both making 1.95. The school is just trying to save money, and used the rule as an excuse to pay me less. However, as stated above, my .05 million won of remuneration comes in the form of my director’s guilty conscience.

And now for my sick day.


Blogger FauzaN said...

Nice blog here!
Blog hopping!

12:59 AM  
Blogger moolz said...

Poor Mocie. Recover soon!

4:06 PM  

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