Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Putty in the Eye

HE - Heh - huh... hoh boy.

Its nine o’clock in the evening. I am sitting on the couch in my wonderful and more “me sized” new apartment, and I am exhausted on a whole variety of levels. Its Monday. Someone’s not playing fair ~ maybe its me ^_^

So let me take this blog as an opportunity to fill in some gaps. The previous two blogs that were posted, were in the mindset that the previous week would be the last of my time at the school. I was advised by my new boss lady to stay until I got paid officially incase any treachery should go on and I not end up getting paid. The deadline of the 8th not being made clear to old-boss for what I hope are obvious reasons. Hey - if they want to give me time to give previous boss chance to find someone ~ I’ll take them up on it.

Aside from the fact that everyday was a 2x4 to the head and a slamming head against desk session... I weathered it, after miraculously getting sick on Tuesday too. None-too-ecstatic about that either to say the least. I was incredibly productive to. I was a model employee I felt. I was zoomin’ around printing exams for the next 3 weeks for all classes, for all three levels used a full bundle (ream?) of printer paper... it was a lot. Collated...stapled... labeled according to teacher, class and level and taught classes all in the same swoop. OH and I hired a new girl to take over 1/2 of my schedule. Look at me go. (Im a banana) (Im a banana) (Look at me do it)

In the whirl of retesting, and students who are “so happy” to find out they “passed”, I couldn’t help but feeling that their celebration was over a rather empty victory - much like doing a jig after winning Go-Fish in the final hand (Do you have any twos?... yup). And Yet, the ONLY student who didn’t pass.... for the third time... taking the exact same test... with a cheater study guide... came to me on the verge of tears essentially demanding that I bump him up to the passing zone. Hmm... glad he didn’t know that he was half of a percent from “passing.” Why didn’t I pass him? Because he failed two other classes, and failing three classes was the official mark for repeating the level. Otherwise we might as well let him “re-do” all of this total flop assessments for the other two classes, when his English level does not even resemble the true level for the program. Not to mention that he completely lacks logic and his short answer sections are like sandpaper on bare ass to quote some sort of T.V. show that my good friend loves that I can’t remember how to site. I stuck to my guns, and I told him that passing him was not an option, and that he did not only fail my class, but two others and would truly be better off doing the level again. The higher level would leave him frustrated and worn out. (Not to mention all of the teachers that would have to grade his forsaken offal and then apply soothing lotion to their buttocks.)

I literally resigned myself to weathering the storm for the week, knowing that somewhat smoother seas were ahead.

The week dished out its violence, and I rolled out the punches. The weekend came and went all too quickly, with me doing yet another demo class for the new company and shakin’ my money meykah. On Thursday or so I was told that after the demo class, I could move into my new apartment, so I packed up saturday afternoon bearing in mind all the torment of packing after university, and so I kept the “important things in two of the large moving bags that the Chinese use and my rolling suitcase (plus my violin, and sleeping bag... and tea set...). I call them “tarp bags”... because their basically a gargantuan (meter long foot wide two feet tall) bag made out of various fashionable types of tarp... and their six yuan each. WOO!

Wonderful as always, the new company had the company driver and an awesome crony help me make the move... which took about 10 minutes to go up the flights of stairs to my apartment and get my stuff and get it back down again. We then drove the city block (which turns out is quite the distance... Major road to major road right... we don’t count side streets?) to the new place and went through the hugest underground parking lot I’ve ever seen to evade a few one-way roads and get to my housing complex. I now live on the tenth floor of a 29 story building behind a pretty awesome mall and adjacent to all kinds of wonderful. Restaurants both of the kitchy nouveriche/ western variety and grungy super-awesome real chinese restaurants surround me. There is a super-market in the mall, and two more within the same city block. Its time to buy an oven I’d say. These souffle’s dont make themselves!

When you walk in, there is a shoe rack YAY. Next best thing, theres wood flooring! I’m not sure if its real, but its real enough for me for this stage, and beats the tar out of bad chinese tiles that are either cracked or come loose when you walk on them... not to mention are torturously cold. Next, on the right is a delightfully square kitchen with a very up to date gas range and exhaust hood with as much counter space and cabinetry as can be expected in a compact but awesome kitchen. On the left is my bathroom - with the gas “insta-heat” water-heaters that stream hot water to you as they heat it. I can’t wait till America gets ahold of these - you never run out of hot water! Not even if your sister has six-foot long “conservative/modest” hair!

Today I did good. I have tried my darndest to leave well given the circumstances. I did not only the two classes that were scheduled for today, but I also moved tomorrow’s class into an open slot. At the end of the day, my students (I have this group for 3 subjects...) were complete space cadets. Who can blame them though, reading and writing class after lunch/nap time? No one wants to wake up to learn about skimming and scanning.

We had our class, and in the last class I told them. I told them that I would not be having class tomorrow, because we did it today. I told them that the reason we did it today is because I would not be coming tomorrow. I would not be coming tomorrow because today is my last day. In the stunned silence that followed, I felt a sort of hallowed reverence as my students looked for words. I don’t mean to make this sound as if I am some sort of teaching deity, because I’m not. However, as words started to come back to them by degrees, I answered a few questions and gave them a general explanation that I would be moving on because... “This is no longer the job I will be doing.” Any more of an explanation would have only lead to loss of face on the part of my then current employer, and that served no real purpose.

As my students realized that this wasn’t some sort of joke that was just going to peel away, I heard some students say - (stand up, stand up). There was a massive rise as all twelve students got out of their chairs, thanked me for teaching them and bowed. I was about ready to turn around and see someone else on their desk proclaiming, “Oh captain, my captain!” I don’t even feign to be in the same realm as Mr... something or other of the Dead Poets’ Society, but that IS what it felt like. And it was humbling.

Between looks of severe disappointment that I was leaving, and wistful looks from this way and that in my class of misfits who have no real place in a program that is doing them no healthy service, I found it very difficult to be completely formal. Part of me will stay with my precious little space cadets. I furnished them with my email address, and strict orders for all of them to send me an email if they have any questions or issues.

Heading towards the door, one of my particularly interesting... and low language level... students told me (in English) “You are the only one responsible teacher there.” Responsible is a word in Chinese that really hits home for me in this situation, because I know his mental direct translation was using the words (fu4ze2 负责 which mean “carry on the back” (fu4) and “duty” or “responsibility” (ze2) or “to take your responsibility to heart.” To be a person that hasn’t viewed themselves as a truly gifted teacher, that is validating on a level that I don’t know how to express (particularly at the tiredness level I’m at this evening)

As my students realized that this wasn’t some sort of joke that was just going to peel away, I heard some students say - (stand up, stand up). There was a massive rise as all twelve students got out of their chairs, thanked me for teaching them and bowed. I was about ready to turn around and see someone else on their desk proclaiming, “Oh captain, my captain!” I don’t even feign to be in the same realm as Mr... something or other of the Dead Poets’ Society, but that IS what it felt like.

And it was profoundly humbling.

I stepped out of class for the last time and bumped into the two new teachers that I hired. We talked about a few issues that there were in their classes while the school’s driver started bellowing for me to hurry up. He’s a wonderfully happy buddhist with a schedule to keep! After quickly sorting out those issues with the new teachers, I trotted on downstairs and grabbed my various essentials like paper-clips and tea and then headed out with the driver. So much for long-winded fair-the-well speeches.

On the drive out to the main office, I told the driver that I wouldn’t be coming back. We had shared many drives over the past two months sharing new words and phrases in each other’s languages and using a whole lot of body language. He congratulated me on moving on and wished me luck, and then dropped me off.

I headed straight up to the accountant where I would collect my salary: deeply curious what it would look like. Interesting enough, it was complete and without deficiency of any sort. I counted it and signed for it. I then looked for boss-lady but she had evidently gone home. I said goodbye to one of the other bosses I’d had at the very beginning of my work at the school, and after some rephrasing to clarify perpetual misunderstanding on the fact that I was “leaving” leaving... I finally set out, knowing that the word would probably get back to old-boss from this source.

I hopped the bus back to my apartment and dropped off my stuff, lounged around for a moment before I decided I really ought to get moving out to my old apartment and claim the very last of my stuff at this point. On the return journey I looked at my phone and saw the notice “SIM Registration Failed” a semi-common occurrence where the SIM card in the phone just doesn’t connect to the towers for some reason or other. Give it the PC treatement!... yell at it and then restart it.

Firing it back up I get ASSAULTED with text messages.
(Bing) Hey, I didnt finish the class on friday and I’m supposed to give this test what do I do?.... [from a teacher]
(Bing)郑州消防温馨提醒:全民消防。。。[not even sure what this is about]
(Bing) Hi peter, i just heard that you will not come tmr. You should at least inform me of the date in advance....Or if we inform the security bureau, you will be illegal... [boss-lady]
(Bing) How about pizza night on friday. :-) [Oklahoman awesomeness friend]

OK backtrack (the following is unaltered in anyway save for the fact that it is no longer in a phone text but on a blog...)

“Hi peter, i just heard that you will not come tmr. You should at least inform me of the date in advance, and hand over your work, and we need to sign a contract to cancel our contract. Or if we inform the security bureau, you will be illegal.Pls contact me once you see this message.”
~Ok... i’ll contact... but I know that any reciprocation is not going to be pleasant. Frik... at least capitalize my name.

I sent the following text in reply to the above text:

“Hi (old-boss) - i apologize for the ambiguous date, however i originally gave you the date of november 1st. I came in to talk to you about the details today, but you had already left. I will come tomorrow to provide you with other important information. I did tomorrows class today, so you need not worry tonight.”

I received the following lambasting, which by the way if you’ve ever taken a class that involves a section on behavioral conditioning... you’ll know that you don’t ask someone to contact you and then totally chew them out... it makes them hesitant to contact you:

“I emailed you asking the date you will leave so I know how to arrange accordingly. It is so irresponsible and unprofessional for you to treat [me] like this. I am so surprise[d] you are this kind of person!”

Wow there Clark.
So I did go in, and it was a relatively fruitless venture in the way of a meeting, but a few things were arranged and files were transferred.

We will evidently need to sign a contract to cancel our current one, and I told old boss lady to email it to me as that will expedite the process for us both. Ain’t no way i’m signing something written by a vengeful person without THOROUGHLY inspecting it.

The new DoS which has been chosen, after being turned down by a previous co-worker... and old-boss asked that I “train them. I’ll offer a few “half days” to help guide them in the right direction. Otherwise... I wasn’t really trained, so I will just have to do what I can in the way of “training” while trying in earnest to not bias them...

Evidently this whole affair has shaken my credibility, and so I needed to go with an assistant to check the old apartment for damage before turning in the keys. Danger of savagery assuaged after a “thorough” going over with an assistant friend of mine (the one who I dealt with all the visa stuff with), I turned in my keys and we made dinner plans for the near future :D.

Returning to one of my new offices, I continued to get to know the teachers better, and even managed to provide them with my lesson plan template. Wow - look at me, mister productive in the midst of an ambiguously defined environment.

I get to talk Chinese most of the day and when I don’t know how to say something, I describe it in Spanish to the Chinese-Spanish teacher and she helps me translate it. Its real fun when the Chinese-French teacher kicks in too, because we have about 4 languages going at the same time trying to communicate ~ but we do a pretty good job of it ^_^

Starting to see a little bit of green in the ashes of this bridge, but there are certainly plenty of coals still burning.

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