translated by Sora Kim-Russell
Must be nice to be a Martian.
Summer that year was so muggy I couldn’t help thinking that way. The vocational high school’s holiday was longer than I thought, so I wouldn’t have been able to stand it if I didn’t at least daydream about Mars. It was a long, long summer and to make matters worse I was holding down two jobs: the petrol station in the afternoon, the convenience store at night. Sure, there were girls at each place, neither good nor bad, but since they were neither good nor bad, I was bored all the same.
Since I was only making fifteen hundred won an hour at the petrol station and a thousand won at the convenience store, I felt disgruntled all the time. I mean, it had started off OK but . . .
My boss at the convenience store said that’s how you learn about the world, and I didn’t feel I could ask him if it would really kill anyone for me to earn two thousand an hour while learning. And if what he said were true, how come he showered so much money on his own kids? I always thought that what I was doing was worth at least two thousand an hour. Seriously? Only a thousand?
It was around that time that Coach came to the store one morning.
How’s it going?
Since he was the one who’d got me the gig in the first place, I had no choice but to say it was fine. You could say he had the corner on all the part-time jobs in the area. He liked helping the younger guys find work and coaching them on this and that.
Well , that’s convenient, I thought, taking a Capri-Sun out of the fridge compartment and handing it to him. It’s on me. I said it with a smile but as I glanced up at the clock I thought, I hope you know that’s worth twenty-five minutes of my life. This place I’m working now, Coach said, the boss is an idiot . . . even today he touched a girl’s thigh . . .
Man! How do you get away with that? Right or wrong, if you touch a girl’s thigh, I think you should at least pay her ten thousand an hour. There’s nothing wrong with touching. But there is something wrong with only paying her a thousand. Anyway, that’s what I thought.
Say, are you good at push-ups?
You know, press-ups.
I automatically said I was. Saying yes automatically was what you had to do to get a job. That was already the basic of the basics by then. The pay’s good. Three thousand an hour . . . but it’s a little hard on your body.
Three thousand? That was all I needed to hear. The words three thousand an hour knocked the wax right out of my ears. To think that a business with such a high rate of return existed near me! Even just getting the offer made me feel like I had suddenly become a member of a highly advanced industrial society. No problem! In comparison, do the rays of the sun that reach Mars at last, after passing Mercury, Venus and Earth, feel the way I do? So long, neither-good-nor-bad, whether-I-get-it-or-not Earth!
That’s the reason I became a pusher...
We hope you've enjoyed this extract from the article. TO CONTINUE READING, click on the link below to sign in or on Subscribe in the bar at the top of this page to buy the eBook of this issue for immediate delivery.
Please subscribe/sign in
to view article.