- onJuly 21, 2017
- Vol.36 Summer 2017
- byChang Kang-myoung
Tr. Teresa Kim 2015128pp.
Afternoon the next day, Eun-young called the girl into the conference room. She advised her that to work in corporate culture, you needed to be a “people” person.
The girl’s eyes welled up. “What does being a people person mean? People keep saying that I’m too curt, but I don’t understand. When a visitor comes, I know I should offer them refreshments but we don’t even have proper cups or saucers. It’s embarrassing to just offer something in a paper cup, without even a saucer, so that’s why I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know what to do. When I worked at the school, it was disrespectful to offer something in a paper cup.”
“You can just take in whatever. Or if you really don’t know, you could ask the president or the visitor. ‘What would you like to drink? Coffee or juice? Which would you prefer?’ Like that. Then it’s obvious what they’ll reply: ‘Anything is fine.’ Got it?”
“Last time, I brought a canned coffee to a visitor and they asked me if I was being rude.”
“It was probably a close friend of the president just joking with you. Wasn’t he laughing when he said it?”
“And it’s hard to ask the president anything. He’s so stoic, I feel intimidated talking to him. And a lot of the time, I can’t understand what he’s saying because his dialect is so strong and he talks too fast. And I’m too scared to ask him again.”
“Our president isn’t that stoic.”
“If I was able to at least buy a set of cups and saucers, then this wouldn’t even be a problem. But I’m not authorized to purchase anything. It feels unfair.” A tear ran down the girl’s cheek. “I didn’t know that the president was keeping such a close eye on me.”
“I’ll give you my purchasing card so you can go buy a set later. In any case, the president has talked to me on numerous occasions regarding your people skills.” (You should’ve gotten in trouble a lot more is what I’m saying.)
“I guess you got in a lot of trouble because of me.”
“Would you possibly consider working only in the mornings and getting paid 800,000 or 900,000 won a month? If you were preparing for an exam or something, this would work out better for you.”
The girl’s expression suddenly changed. Eun-young got the impression that all those tears had just been an act.
“Did the president say that? Is that what he’s suggesting?”
“Frankly speaking, the work you do doesn’t require you to sit at your desk all day. And I think it’d be easier for you to go for your treatments at the clinic. If you worked only four hours each morning and got paid 900,000 won, then your hourly pay would actually be higher.”
“It takes me an hour and a half to get to work. That’s three hours round-trip. If my monthly salary is cut then there’s no reason for me to continue working here. I still have outstanding student loans from my night classes. And, as for going to the clinic, I’m not going because I want to, but because I’m in pain. You can’t hold that against me.”
Eun-young said she understood and sent the girl back to her desk. The girl, who’d turned ice cold at the mention of a pay cut, once again put on a sad face, returned to her desk, and the large tears welled up again. The male employees noticed the girl crying, but no one dared to talk to her.
Eun-young couldn’t send a crying girl on an errand so she went to the bank herself. (People only care about a girl crying if she’s young and pretty. If you hadn’t made so many excuses, then I would’ve . . .)
It was the end of the month. Eun-young took a designer scarf she’d received as a gift but never used, put it in a paper bag, and went to work. The morning was busy again because it was the end of the month. The girl was staring at her computer screen with a blank expression. (Does she have to be like that until her very last day?)
After work, Eun-young gave the bag to the girl, saying that it was a gift. With a look of surprise, the girl took it.
“I thought it’d be nice if you had at least one item like this.”
“But why are you giving this to me?” The girl’s expression was like a child’s who’d just been caught lying by her mother.
“Because it’s your last day. I brought it as a farewell gift. I hope you like it.”
“My last day?”
Her act of feigning ignorance was so fake that Eun-young let out a laugh.
“I told you we only needed you until the end of the month. Are you going to say you don’t remember? That’s why we went to Outback for dinner together.”
“You told me you didn’t need my services anymore, but didn’t tell me an exact date.”
“You really don’t remember? I told you about three weeks ago in the conference room.”