Working on Christmas Eve is never what you want to be doing, but when you do have to work, then working in a school is much better than working in retail. While there isn’t nearly as much planning for Christmas as there was for Halloween, Christmas at the hakwon was pretty good if you ask me (if you ask Josh you’ll get a very different response).
When I arrived at work I was given my Santa schedule. I had only three Santa slots in the day and the rest of the time I was with my normal classes. As a Santa it was my job to go around the classes and give out the Secret Santa presents that the students had bought each other.
My first shift was at three with some combined classes that each had a few students of mine. I went for the bad Santa style, stealing presents and snacks and only giving up presents in exchange for sweets or crisps. I enjoyed being Santa but I was also glad when it was over. My normal classes were much more fun. We played games, did some colouring in and even played a Korean version of Monopoly, called Blue Marble, in one class. I’m pretty sure the banker was robbing the bank while one of the girls was stealing property cards from other players, badly. Musical chairs was especially good, if a little hectic.
After work we went to Bupyeong and did the usual trip around our favourite bars. Tequila seemed to be the theme of the night. I managed to keep a reasonably clear head but one of our number had to be assisted home. Despite this, a good time was had by all. We took a cake with us to Woodstock and shared it out with everyone and managed to get people dancing.
The next day was Christmas day.
I woke up early (about 11am) with a surprisingly clear head and a rumbling tummy. We had resisted eating any junk food the night before and now I was hungry. At home on boxing day I know my dad would have already started a huge, delicious, greasy fry up and I decided that was what I wanted. I went with Susie to the local megamart, Homeplus, to pick up supplies. We also decided to pick up a few fish to go in Josh’s new fish tank.
We chose just four fish to start with, a big fat ginger goldfish, a black and grey fish, and two small, electric blue fish that glittered in the light. They went in a bag which Susie kept in her jacket as we walked home so they wouldn’t be too cold in the -5*C of the early afternoon.
We put the fish in the tank and I got breakfast started. Owing to the fact there are no real sausages in Korea, it was ready in a flash and eaten faster than that. After this, having not sent the box of presents for my family home, I instead took a photo and sent them that. The “card” in the picture have my name (right) and Susie’s written in Korean.
By now the fish had been released from the bag but we noticed a problem. The output of water from the filter was so strong that that the fish were being blasted around the tank, unable to control themselves. We decided to change it so it would be less powerful but didn’t turn off the filter to do it. At one point a fish, one of the small blue ones, was shot with a full blast of water and instantly went belly-up. It was dead, no movement, no nothing.
I scooped it up and took it to the bathroom. We had been warned that the little ones could die easily if too cold or too stressed. I put it in the toilet and reached for the flush.
It wriggled. I told myself I was wrong but then it moved again. It was ALIVE! I called out and Josh came to look. Then he grabbed a small cup and began to rescue operation. It tried to evade, even swimming deeper into the toilet but he eventually got it out of the toilet and went back into the tank. He then washed his hands and we wished each other a merry Christmas.
I went to Susie’s that evening and the next day Josh and I used a coke bottle and a plastic bag to make the tank safer for the small fish, named Flushy.
Edit: Sadly the small fish died over the next few days, only the big ginger one, always the happiest in the tank, has survived.
James Vs World