Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Lunch Lady at School

Man, this lady's been an interesting character since I got here.

First, she didn't talk to me. Only stared and whispered to other teachers about me. She watched me eat (or not eat) the foods on my tray. One day, we ended up taking the same bus to school. ...Actually, I'm pretty sure this happened on more than one occasion, but it wasn't until the last occasion that she talked to me once we got off the bus. During that time, she ... well, as usual, I can only guess about half of the conversation. We talked about Korean vs. English language. About how when people meet, they'll ask "Have you eaten?" rather than "How are you?'   ... Oh, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure I've got this story right. I could be mixing the lunch lady with the store shop owner from my bus stop. But I did talk to the lunch lady as we walked to school one day. She even threw in some English words.

Since that day, she's been doing more than just watching at me while I eat. Now, sometimes she'll walk over to my end of the table and wipe it clean, then lean in close and tell me, "Mani meogeo" in a really serious voice. Which means eat a lot, or enjoy the meal, depending on the way the person says it. I used to nod and smile, but after hearing it said with such a serious whisper and piercing eyes, I'm not sure I want to eat a lot. She started saying this to me after an encounter one day with myself, her, and my mentor teacher. At lunch on that day, she asked my mentor teacher if I liked Korean food and what I thought of the spicy parts, etc. So after that, she started telling me to eat my food. At first, I understood this, because some days I really didn't like half of what was on my tray, and would skip eating it. Other days, I would eat everything and completely clean my food tray. I took her message to mean, "Please try everything. Please eat as much as you can, and go for seconds if you really like it." At this point though, I feel like I should be allowed to not eat something if I don't want to.

In the last week or two, she's added more to our interesting encounters. She now explains the names of everything on my tray. Honestly, I really appreciate this guesture. I truly thank her (a much older lady) for taking the time to teach me Korean in this way, to let me know what I'm eating. However, this also bothers me a bit. I selfishly think, where was she at the beginning of the school year when I really wanted to know what everything was. I mean, now I already know what half the stuff is.

Of course, I could try and tell her which foods I like and don't like after she tells me their names. ...But, I feel like if I deepened the conversation, I'd end up being dragged back to the lunch line and having my tray refilled. I don't mind talking to her, but I think if she could, she'd have me doing a whole lot more eating and explaining each day if I let her talk to me. Hah, actually writing all this is making me laugh. It's funny but I could actually develop a love-hate relationship with this lady. For now though, maybe I'll just mention to one of the other teachers how unnerving the lunch lady can be at times.

'Til next time!


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