Before getting back to my Cancer Diary – and so much has happened since I last wrote any of it – let me relate that today was the first day of returning to the hospital to talk with the Professor since being discharged last Thursday, and as usual there were surprises.

See, this device he plugged into me has no proper “instruction manual” to go with it. I have really only just understood the proper function of the thing. So I have been avoiding the use of the lumen valve when in truth I should have been using it – during shopping or other trips out of my place, for example. The lumen valve, which is actuated by injecting water into the device with a syringe, prevents the outward flow of gut contents. I think you can probably figure out the rest…

The second thing is that now the resectioning operation appears to have been successful, the FDD will be removed next Wednesday. But I had received the impression (wrongly, it turns out) that the FDD was to be a permanent fixture, but no! – it now appears to only be put in place to serve as a hygienic conduit while the rectum wall was healing. Once this process is competed (three weeks after the operation), it can be removed. The remaining gut will eventually adjust to working normally as it did before the neoplasm was removed. Or so I have been reassured.

So, while I was discussing my (generally favourable) health with the Professor, he said that I was already able to resume work.

“Ah,” I said: “but the company has given me until the end of February to recuperate.” I will return to the use of this time period in a moment.

Afterwards, a time was arranged for the removal of the FDD and a barium enema x-ray shoot, which will almost certainly be the actual end of the cancer episode.

But how about the job? The company had been signalling previously that they would be “open” to re-signing me, but how “open” were they, really?

I left the hospital and walked back to our office, just down the road, to tell my manager what the Prof. had said. During our discussion, she asked me whether I had heard anything from the company in the interim, and of course, the answer was “no”; since our conflab in Seomyeon back at the end of July, I had heard nary a peep out of them.

The gist was that there was a possibility that (based largely upon negative reviews from the students, never mind the fact that too many of them needed some severe improvements in their English in order to be fully functional) they might not want to re-sign me after all. Great. Should I start looking for a new job already? If they were not going to re-sign me, then I would have to do this; the lucky happenstance of having been out of work for literally only two days before signing for the current job was the exception, rather than the rule, as historically finding something new would take months.

Additionally, when I was waiting to go to the hospital in December, I spent the weekends working on lesson plans and materials for a proposed new course due to commence after re-signing; but if they don’t re-sign me, there is no point in proceeding with this. They are not paying me right now because I am not working – and another foreigner from a different branch is covering for me while I “recuperate” – and I will only continue with that work out of a sense of goodwill _if_ they are going to re-sign, otherwise I have more important things to do with my time.

Personally, I have always felt prickly whenever this question of student feedback being in the negative zone rears its ugly head. In my experience, “proper training” is something that Korean employers tend to avoid. Lack of communication is part of the problem, but a desire to avoid wasting money, I suspect, is in there somewhere too, however irrational that may sound. After all, if you don’t communicate with workers as a matter of course and don’t provide them with the feedback and training they need for a specific job, what possible right do you have to complain, really? I myself have plenty of things that make me want to complain, but my response is tempered nowadays by the idea that simply complaining about something is not enough – one acquires greater legitimacy when complaining if one has a viable alternative suggestion, at least.

My own complaint is that a job of this kind requires far more training and orientation for someone like myself, with a lower-level academic background than some of my peers here. Otherwise, I am constantly in danger of appearing inauthentic to the students, primarily due to lack of relevant experience. So I made this point today – that I would be perfectly happy to re-sign but would appreciate further training in order to be more effective in the position. You’d think it was a no-brainer – after all, it is not every person who can simply walk into a job like mine and be perfect from the get-go. But as I say, in my experience this is a big issue with Korean employers.

The real stumbling-block for so many Korean language-related companies seems to be the lack of product diversity – what has emerged over the last few years, for me, based on my own observations, is that too many of the English-based businesses here are one-trick ponies – it is often a struggle to get the management to accept that they need to offer a greater variety of products to attract more customers. And they are often scared of negative ratings from students who really do not have a sufficient level of English themselves to (as in our case) progress to teaching their own students. Business owners are often inflexible.

So suddenly, in the immediate aftermath of a cancer operation, I am yet again faced with the possibility of having to mount a job search. I have every expectation that the company will prevaricate until me having already found a job in the meantime is upon them, by which time, of course, it will be too late… but this is Korea, so what’s new?