When I arrived at school this morning, the staffroom was FREEZING. The temperature outside had been a chilly -4C when I left my apartment, and I doubted it had risen much in the 7 minutes it took me to walk to school.
I wasn’t sure if it was colder inside or outside.
My co-workers were looking frantic. The lights were off, everyone was still wearing their coats, hats and gloves, and nobody was drinking coffee. Even more odd, nobody had turned their computers on. What was going on?
Apparently, the school was running low on electricity. Because of the unusually cold weather, the principal had grudgingly allowed the heat to be turned on for a few hours every day. But it seemed that we had used too much electricity. There was now only enough for the staffroom to have either heat or electricity. Did we want to be warm but not be able to do work? Or did we want to work but be cold? What a dilemma!
I was politely asked my opinion but I didn’t flatter myself that anyone would take it into account. It didn’t matter anyway; I had class. I was intrigued to know what their answer would be. Would Korea’s famous work ethic win out over the need for warmth?
I had to go to class before the issue was resolved. When I returned after class, the staffroom was still cold, dark and powerless. After much discussion the teachers had apparently decided that it was better to be cold and productive. But when they had tried to turn their computers on, a fuse had blown somewhere. Now there was no electricity and no heat.
Pitiful didn’t begin to describe my co-workers. Wearing coats, hats, and gloves, and swathed in scarves and blankets, only their eyes were visible. I began to lose feeling in all my extremities during my 10 minute break.
Thankfully, I had classes all morning. The classes aren’t exactly tropical but between the little heat we’re allowed, and the masses of squirming small bodies, it’s bearable.
By the time I went back to the staffroom after lunch, the problem had been resolved. The computers worked, and the thermostat was set at 15C (the highest it could be set without blowing any fuses). It wasn’t balmy but it was certainly better than sacrificing my toes to frostbite.