In the cafeteria last week Miss Hwang (황숭미) told me about Joe, the previous Native English Teacher that Idong High School had employed. He was in his fifties, introverted, something of a recluse. He never ate lunch with the other teachers, only an apple or a sandwich at his desk, and he rarely went out for group teacher dinners (a major points-scoring event in Korea, but more importantly a good time just to get to know people). The vice principal - arguably the most important person in the school - disliked him because Joe never bowed to him in the hallway nor even said hello. Joe wanted to come back to teach another year, but the VP wouldn't allow it.
I asked Miss Hwang what I could do to ensure a good relationship with the school veep. "Just smile at him," she said. "And stop by his office once in a while to greet him." So a couple of days ago, on the way out of the school building, I stopped by the teacher's office on the first floor. The VP greeted me. "What do you need?" "Oh, I was just stopping by to say goodbye. Have a good night!" He and the other teachers at his desk smiled and said goodbye. The next morning Soon Yung, my co-teacher (and the other most important person, for me, anyway, in the school), said she heard that I stopped by his office. "They were VERY happy."
A little bit goes a long way.