Mandatory , It’s More Fun!

Happy Teacher’s Day everyone! This upcoming Friday will feature a dinner gathering event at my school! Free food , some games , and little prizes to be won.

Attendance : MANDATORY.

That just sucks the joy out of it for me.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s sort of a fun event . In any case there is free food and some small prizes to be given out. Can’t beat that. But just the whole ATTENDANCE REQUIRED thing just gets me thinking how much I would prefer just to clock out at 4pm on Friday , relax , chill out , and hang out with friends instead of co-workers. On the much coveted Friday evening now I have to sit in the office and wait an extra hour before trudging upstairs to listen to some boring speeches , and then eat with a bunch of people whom I don’t really share a lot of cultural common points with.

Oh you were born under the red rule of Mao Zedong , revolutionary hero and extreme idiot, who got millions of his own people killed? That’s great! I was born in the dark days of George H.W Bush who uhh Gulf War…….

Nah , nah , I’m exaggerating things a bit for the comic humor but yea this dinner isn’t quite like kicking over a BBQ back home with some brews.

Lots of Chinese companies have this kind of mandatory forced fun. My girlfriends company has monthly dinners. Sounds good right? Well now the stingy bosses are deducting 5% out of everyone’s commissions to pay for said dinner. Before it was free. Now all the coworkers have to pay to have the right to eat with people they don’t really want to hang out with. Great.

Out in the countryside where there isn’t much to do, and everyone lives in communal dormitories at the factory , things are a bit different. Perhaps the company dinner with KTV (karaoke is super popular in Asia) is a great thing to ease the dullness of 6 day a week 14 hour a day mindless work while sleeping in a room with 5 other people. I don’t know . I’ve never experienced anything like that. I’ll just count my blessings and make it through a slightly elongated Friday. It could be worse.

New Students New Teachers

In comes August, and with it a batch of new students , kicking and screaming , leaving their parents for the first time arrive. With them comes a batch of eight new Chinese teachers in the school. Whoa, eight of sixteen teachers opted not to renew their contracts, and most of these teachers were newish arrivals from the start of the winter semester. I guess I should have expected that but it took me by surprise.

Now for the most part I like my job. My schedule is pretty relaxed , my wages are nice , and the kids are cute. I’m the big goofy clown that everyone loves. Walking into the school every morning I’m created by a choir of kids all chanting my name. Hugs in the morning? Try that in the corporate world.

However, my job and the Chinese teachers’ jobs are much , much different. More work , more kid discipline , endless meetings , constant children progress reports , and non-stop preparations. Oh yea , and at a 1/4 (yes a quarter) of my pay. Ouch. So it makes sense the turn-over rate was as high as it was.

It’s like the fast food industry back in the U.S.A . An overabundance of unskilled workers willing to work for peanuts and quickly realizing this job sucks. Quit. Repeat. I’m not exactly sure how I myself survived two years of work at K.F.C .

These teachers aren’t of the same unskilled KFC worker cast but the huge population of China is working against them in this situation. Go ahead and quit. You are replaceable. Want too much cash? Ok , we can find someone who will work for less. Somewhere in this labor people of 1.4 billion people are tens and tens of millions of teachers. The eight positions were filled very quickly.

The former manager-type of the kindergarten (Principal’s Right Hand Woman) just up and stopped coming to work , wouldn’t answer her phone calls , and surprised everyone by leaving. She really did work hard and did a good job. My guess is that she tried to get a much deserved raise , her demands were rejected , and she said f*ck it ,and dipped. Now one of the former teachers was drafted over to the administrative job . She is in over her head just a liiiiitttle bit.

That’s how it is in the workplace in China. Bosses aren’t good to the workers, and don’t reward them , because they can afford not to. My girlfriend works in the corporate world and it works the same way there. In her 8 months of work in the company she has seen countless people come and go , with the majority quitting in two weeks or less. I can’t remember how many times she has come home in a rage , cursing the bosses , and vowing to not take their shit anymore. Guess maybe it’s a good thing guns are outlawed here.

Back to Reality

Well , here I am again. Sitting in an office , the sky gray , the raining pouring down( update-  It’s been a few days since I’ve started to write this and the rain has now upgraded itself to snow) , and the temperature a far cry from adequate, enjoyable temperatures. My body has reacted badly to the switch from the hot tropics to the cold, cold, winter. I’m sick , my skin is peeling, and I think my lips have begun the process of petrification. I’m back in Shanghai. It’s weird to read that out loud, back in Shanghai. Back in Shanghai? You mean I’ve been there before? Huh? I’m back home , in Shanghai?

Gone are the carefree days when the biggest problems were, 2 cups of coffee or three? BeerLao or Angkor? Fish Amok or Beef Loc Lac? and
“Mr. Nice” or “The White Tiger”? Travel time is over and I’m smackback in reality – work. Bye, bye , blue skies (with the white puffy clouds) , motorbike rides along coconut tree-lined streets , lazing on the beach , reading 500 pages of books a day , hiking through thousand-year old ruins, a smorgasboard of  tasty Southeast Asian brews , and not being able to comprehend the language flowing around me neither speech nor text. Oddly enough being back in China I can
once again comprehend the speech and read the language , how did that ever happen?

One good thing about being back in China is catching the tail-end of Chinese New Year celebrations. Fireworks are exploding everywhere and it sounds like Shanghai is a war-zone. Standing on my balcony I’m really impressed by the size of these fireworks and the fact that they are exploding in between buildings and I see fiery debris slamming into the sides of buildings. The funny thing is that technically fireworks aren’t supposed to be set off in the city and our apartment complex had signs up proclaiming no fireworks but I swear I’ve seen guards themselves lighting off fireworks.

Like it always does the time passed far too quickly. My trip to Cambodia is over and let me say Wow! Or perhaps WOOOOWWW!!!!! would be better. Cambodia is an amazing country and I want more time there , much more time. I got a taste  , it was delicious , and I’m craving more. I tend to fall in love with a country upon arrival. Minor things are intriguing to me. Such as , the different products inside the convenient stores , how the language sounds , the kinds of cars there as well the big sights. Temples! Flooded forests, Ancient Ruins , and Landmines!

The people are super friendly and the language has got me hooked. Khmer script is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia (based off a long ago variant of Sanskrit) and is beautiful. Signs are decorated with calligraphic scripts and I am in love! Unfortunately I left my learn Cambodian textbook I purchased in Cambodia. Not much use for the people there but somehow , someway I will get another one.

I will be blogging about the entire adventure – as fast as possible -while the details are still fresh in my brain. Live vicariously through me , yea?

I’ll give you a taste of upcoming content

Bio- luminescent algae
Motorbike Rides
Wild Monkeys
All things Angkor
Bamboo Train
Killing Fields
Also, here is my upcoming life

Work
Writing about things for you
Starting up Matador U’s writing program
Loud roommates and little of a poor-quality sleep
Finding a new apartment
Waiting to travel again

Damn!