Saturday, 14 March 2009

You know it's a bad week when...

...Friday the 13th is the best day of the week.

Thursday saw me so frustrated and pissed off that after my last class I just went home and drank two bottles of beer, then didn’t talk to anyone or leave my apartment because I was one tiny little incident away from pounding my fists against the walls and screaming ‘why did I ever come to this God-forsaken country?’

After a bad end to the weekend, things only got worse. There are three things I hate about China: the lack of organisation, the inability to give a straight answer and stalker tendencies. All three were amply present.

On Tuesday I’d gone to have an interview with the manager of a chain of bilingual kindergartens, where A already works. She had told A that she wanted someone to work at the kindergarten near where we live, called Ugly Duckling. I’d given this woman a copy of my school schedule in writing and discussed it over the phone, then at the meeting we went over it again. She wanted me to work in the downtown branch one morning a week, but as it would mean a four hour round trip for me, I said no, despite her pressuring me. We agreed that I would teach at Ugly Duckling for one hour on Thursday mornings at either 9.30 or 10 and she would call me on Wednesday to confirm which time. Wednesday comes and goes: no call. Owing to the Chinese habit of doing things at the last minute, this didn’t worry me. So I call on Thursday morning at about half past eight. Response?

‘Oh, it’s Thursday? I forgot it’s Thursday! I’ll have to call you later.’ Ok lady, you’re obviously either on crack or the world’s worst liar.

She calls me at midday to ask if I can work that afternoon at another kindy, again much further away from Ugly Duckling, despite the fact that if she’d bothered to check the schedule I’d given her she would have seen that I have classes then. So I’d wasted quite a bit of time and money, when if she could just have said what she was actually looking for in the first place….

Twice a term our school has testing on Thursday and Fridays, which mean swe get a long weekend. I wanted to plan a trip away so asked the foreign affairs office to confirm if it was the next weekend, as some students had said, because normally they only give us two or three days notice at the most. They said yes, so I tried to plan my trip, although I had to give up on going to the one place I really want to go because of frustrations with the Chinese railway schedule and ticketing office. Then I replan and start really looking forward to my weekend away. On Thursday I find out that the exams actually take place the week after, and the foreign affairs office just randomly told me the wrong date. So I’ve had to rearrange already booked spots at a youth hostel.

On Tuesday I was due to go to dinner with a woman whose private English school I occasionally work at. She was set on me staying over at her apartment, which I found kind of weird as it’s not very far away from where I live, I don’t know her that well and the journey between our neighbourhoods is much easier in the evening than during the morning rush hour. I had several errands that I needed to run in the morning too. I’d told her several times that I wouldn’t be staying over. On the trip to her apartment, she asks me when I will leave in the morning! Throughout the whole evening she tries to pressure me into staying.

the worst behaved kid in China?

Even if I’d wanted to stay, the behaviour of her two year old son would’ve decided me the other way. I have possibly never seen worse parenting: he threw his (live, for now anyway) pet chicks across the room onto a tiled floor, was fed beer, cola and peanuts and repeatedly tried to spit in the dumplings mixture. The parents response was to mix smacking him with total indifference.

She was curious about Skype, so we looked it up on the internet. She didn’t understand the English pages, I didn’t understand the Chinese ones. I took a long time to get this through to her, although I’ve told her several times I can’t read Chinese. She also wanted me to give her my mother’s profile details and home phone number! Er, no. So not a very relaxing evening.

I’ve also been phone stalked by two random teenagers wanting me to write a script for them for an English competition (which I’m pretty sure is cheating somehow!). I have no idea who gave them my number and the volume of their calls and texts was such that only by threatening to tell their school did I get them to stop!

This is probably far too long, and very boring, but given my week this seems apt.


  1. Argh- sounds something akin to my week! Mine was filled a little more with sleepless nights and frustrating neighbors than irritations at school. However, I would love to skype with you sometime from my classroom! I wonder if you'd be up for that, you could talk to my kids about what you're doing and how things are different and the same there??

  2. Sorry about all the problems. It was very interesting reading, though, to learn of all the frustrations.

  3. Oh my.
    I would have pounded my fist through the wall too.
    Um just so you know. I have been teaching for 22 years and sometimes I go home and don't talk for an hour or two to decompress.
    And, I would suck down a beer as well.
    I admire you for being there. I always considered going to China or Japan to teach English when I was younger.
    I chickened out.
    I look forward to reading more.