You beast

December 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

A few years ago, I was in the library of the language college where I worked, about to pack up and head home. A young student rushed in, dressed immaculately in a pinstriped skirt and high heels, with a briefcase in one hand and a bakery bag in the other.

‘Correct you my CV, teacher?’

‘Sure…do you have a job interview?’

She took a moment to translate my words into Korean, and then nodded.

‘Today! Interview today!’ And she thrust the paper bag into my hand as a reward. ‘I bring you muffin to thank.’

She perched on a stool as I lined my red pen next to the cover letter, confident it wouldn’t take long.

I read the first sentence, and blinked.

I read it again.

I’m from elementary school through university in Seoul, South Korea, and graduation from, has grown.

 ‘Ah…did you write this yourself?’

She nodded so hard I thought she’d fall off the stool. I knew better. After years of teaching, I can sniff out an internet translation within the first ten words. Online translators are totally unable to decipher idioms or proverbs or colloquial terms,  or to understand the subtle nuances that make language so beautiful. And students always think we won’t realise.

But we’re canny creatures, teachers; able to differentiate between true illness and a hangover, to hear a whispered word of Turkish or Thai from a hundred paces away, and with an unerring ability to call on the one person in the class who hasn’t done their homework.

It’s a gift, but I use it wisely.

And I love a good mashed up internet translation – lord, was this a doozy.

I’m curious childhood, it was a very lively personality. If you have any curiosity, I did not want to try but it was well studied, Art, Physical Education, and Art, have the makings of a lover could.

There were over a thousand words of this fabulously absurd, yet somehow strangely elegant ‘English.’ I got through correcting one sentence before I realised she wasn’t going to make her job interview. I tried, believe me, to sling my rescue rope down and haul the words up to safety, but in the end I had no choice but to pull the sheet slowly over the cover letter and let it slip away.

By which I mean I asked her to rewrite it for her next job interview, fingers crossed. Then I took the muffin.

Checking job applications and resumés has given me so much mirth, such as the following:

• In my six months in Australia, I have been working as a vacuum cleaner.

• For the last two summers, I have been doing a lifeguard at my local beach.

• My father is a professional gopher.

• Even though I am just a woman, I think I could still do this job (?!).

• I am experienced in teaching children, in areas such as lesson preparation and explosion plans.

• My hobbies are cooking, cycling and houseriding.

• Thank you for considering my application. You beast, X.

But I’ll leave you with my favourite sentence from the first student, which still makes me laugh after all these years.

When my junior high school before to enter art college, but seriously, some parents were unable to reverse.

I love my job so much.



  1. Michael said,

    I have always wondered is it really so wrong to be a professional Gopher?

    Great to see the effort and I hope they all keep the originals to look back in 10 years.

    • inkymouth said,

      Sure beats being a professional vacuum cleaner 🙂

      I keep a folder of these inky gems, and it’s currently so fat I have to invest in a new one, I think. Bring it on!

  2. gretchen said,

    Babe if you hear of any summer jobs that need lifeguards getting done – I’ll be on the next plane back to Australia… keep me posted. (The muffin sounds delicious.) x

  3. loopsta said,

    I wish all writing ended in thank you, you beast! So funny!

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