Tag Archives: vacation

When the Cat’s Away, the World Might End

It’s final exam week here at my university and as I sit here and proctor a reading exam, it seemed like a good chance to write some flash fiction. This is dedicated to my sister, whose birthday it is this Friday.

FF188 Sandra Crook

copyright Sandra Crook

“Maybe I should call them.”

“Don’t call. They’ll have a great time home alone. We’re in France. Relax.”

“We should have brought them.”

“It took five years to save enough for us to come. We’d never save enough for all of us. Just go take a shower, get dressed up, and we’ll hit the town.”

She’d scarcely shut the bathroom door when he called internationally.

“Hey Dad,” his eldest said. “The plumber stopped the leak, but it’ll take a week to dry the basement out.”

“Okay. Call the insurance company. And do not tell your mother until we get back.”


Desk Warming the Day Away

If you’ve ever taught English in Korea, you know of the joys of desk warming. I did a Google search for “desk warming” and the whole first page was about Korea, so it seems to be a largely Korean phenomenon (maybe Japan as well).  Basically, it means going into work when there is no work to do and killing time however you want.  It is what I am doing right now.


There are two main strains of desk warming. The first is during the school year. Normally, English teachers in a Korean public school teach 22 classes a week, which equals about 15 hours of class time for me. However, we are expected to be in school about 40 hours a week, preparing for classes or whatever.

Now, if you are in one school, that is not unexpected. You probably have a desk or maybe even an office and can sit and do what you want until it’s time to go home. I, however, teach at four schools a week. I have known teachers who have taught at up to 7 schools in a week. When you are at multiple schools, you don’t get a desk. You either go directly to the classroom or sit in the teacher’s room, awkwardly out of place. So, a bizarre situation arises where you are supposed to stay at school all day but the school doesn’t necessarily want you there. You can go to the Education Office to kill time but they don’t necessarily have a place for you either, although they can stick you in a corner somewhere or in an empty meeting room.

Yay! I'm being productive!

Yay! I’m being productive!

The other type of desk warming is during vacations. The average English teacher gets a week or two of vacation each break but the school vacation is always longer than this, which means any day we don’t have a vacation day and there are no classes, we have to go into the Education Office for 8 hours.  Some people read, watch TV shows, play computer games. I knew a teacher that curled up in a blanket and slept on the floor every day. The bosses don’t care what you do, as long as you’re physically present.

Laptop, Kindle, Chinese textbook. I'm in for the long haul.

Laptop, Kindle, Chinese textbook. I’m in for the long haul.

Summers aren’t too bad. The summer vacation is only about 4 weeks long now and after doing some English camps, I ended up only having to desk warm for two days this year. In the winter, though, the school vacation is over 2 months long, which means you generally end up sitting in a cold meeting room for about a month.

I’m the only one here today. I took the picture above this a few minutes ago. Either the other teachers have classes today or they just didn’t come in. I’m not really complaining  since it’s not a bad gig to get paid for doing nothing.

Still, I could do nothing at home.

Caves for Rent – Inquire Within

“Ugh, I feel like a zombie,” my wife said, crashing facedown onto the bed.

“Nonsense,” I said, surreptitiously checking her skin for a greyish pallor. She had been saying that sort of thing for about a week now and although I never truly believed her, I kept a baseball bat by my side of the bed.

“I’m just so tired. I never get enough sleep. I just wish there was a cave I could crawl into and sleep for a month.”

I’ve never been really big on metaphors, so I googled “caves for rent”. There were a surprisingly large numbers of results: some absurd, some merely expensive. To narrow it down, I typed, “just a cave to sleep in for a month”. One result came up.




I wasn’t sure what a troglodyte was, but the ad sounded enthusiastic and anyone who used five exclamations points in a row had to be sincere. I called the number.

A week later, I packed my wife’s bag while she was in the bathroom and told her we were taking a ride. She wouldn’t get in the car until I gave her some explanation, so I said we were going for ice cream. Then I felt like a jerk, so I really did stop and got some. We were almost finished our cones when we pulled up to the cave I had rented. It was just a dark hole coming out of the side of a hill with a steel door inset into the entrance.English: Tom Taylor's Cave, How Stean Gorge. T...“What’s this?” she asked. “Are you going to kill me and throw my body in a cave?”

“Surprise!” I said and then had to explain I wasn’t referring to killing her.

“So . . . you’re going to lock me in a dark hole?” she asked hesitantly.

“Well . . . yeah, but not in those exact words. I rented you a cave. You said you wanted to sleep in a cave for a month. I booked it for a month, but they threw in an extra week free. Food’s provided and there’s—I checked the brochure I had pushed up my sleeve—natural air conditioning.”

“So . . . you want to lock me in a dark cave all by myself for five weeks?” I couldn’t interpret the expression on her face, but my confidence in the merits of my plan was beginning to be shaken; even more so when I saw tears forming in her eyes.

“Well, honey, you know—”

“Thank you!” she cried. “Thank you so, so much! I love you.” She threw her arms around me, gave me a quick kiss and then ran off towards the cave entrance, suitcase in hand. She pulled the huge steel door shut and it made a loud clang as it locked.

I got back into the car with a self-satisfied smile. Now it was just me for five weeks, just like when I was a bachelor.

Uh, I guess I’ll have to cook for myself. Well, no getting around that. I liked ramen.

And do the laundry and dishes. Ugh. Maybe I could make a big pile for five weeks.

No sex for five weeks. Dang. Dang, dang, dang.

I jumped out of the car and pounded on the door of the cave. “Hey, honey! I was thinking, why don’t we put up dark curtains in the bedroom. I can try to snore less . . . sometimes. Honey?”

There was no answer. I turned and sadly got back in the car.


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