Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Korean Quotidian: Office Routines

I'm sharing an office with one of those OCD guys every Korean office seems to have. He's very nice and constantly cleans. When he's not cleaning, he's teaching; when he's neither teaching nor cleaning, he's hiking. He's mopped our office floor five times in three days. I think he needs some help.

The mopping at my school involves the coldest water and a mop. Nothing becomes clean: doesn't look clean, doesn't smell clean, isn't clean.

Constant dirty pooled
Water and wet smell,
Dust and mop cotton.

Keywords: musky, dusky, dank, dirty.

Wet concrete, kept wet, only slightly visibly erodes leaving a fine and consistent gray dust on its surface. It's a sneaky erosion. It makes my obsessive and anxious office mate believe the floor is never quite clean enough to leave alone. He's expediting its erosion. A wonderful signifier for his state of mind.

His look betrays the kind of anxiety that quietly unsettles the daily order, gives the appearance of cohesion and adherence to a routine that is always unraveling. Where am I going to find enough time to clean this office before I have to teach. It suggests when he returns from the classroom, fifty minutes later, he'll have forgotten he worked so hard to get it right the first time. He'll clean again.

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