There’s a whole lot I love about Thailand, as you may have gathered from all the posts since I got here. The food is out of this world, almost every meal a mouthwatering delight as long as you know which stalls to avoid. The people are, by and large, a hell of a friendly bunch, especially compared to the typical denizens of the UK. Okay, the odd Thai does slip a little bit of venom behind their use of ‘farang’ but I can live with that. It’s a properly cheap country, especially by UK standards, and also considering that as an English teacher I earn about 3-4 times your average barman’s/Muay Thai trainer’s salary. If I wanted to I could live comfortably off a third of my take-home pay every month but I choose to splurge on another of Thailand’s attractive features – the islands, beaches and national parks it has in abundance.
And there’s Em. Oh yes, there’s Em. See for yourself, I’m happy…
I could go on at extreme length but I’m not here to gush about the good things, oh no, I’m here for a rant about the things that piss me off about my job. They are plentiful.
First off is the high school I work for, which shall remain nameless for fear of retribution. There’s incompetence, then there’s being unable to organise a piss-up in a brewery and then there’s this place.
On at least four occasions to date I’ve turned up a little ahead of class time, all ready to do some much-needed photocopying, stapling or other prep work, only to be told “Oh Paul, just so you know we’re doing 45 minute classes instead of 55 so your 13:50 class will now be starting at 13:00, hope that’s okay.” I mean, how could that not be okay? Hey, my hour of prep I just gave myself has been shortened to five minutes, how could I have a problem with that? I only have to photocopy, collate and staple together 64 tests after all.
Would a call or a text that morning have been too much to ask?
Then there’s the general lack of communication. Today I find out, at a little before noon, that there are no classes tomorrow and we’re doing New Year activities instead. Seems this was decided last Friday. Okay, so pissing around instead of teaching may sound like fun but I assure you, having seen the Christmas activities fiasco, that it’s just going to be excruciatingly inept . In any case, the random holidays at this place leave me with a deficit in my class time and I can’t afford to have my kids fucking around if they’re already behind.
My actual employers are a lot better in terms of letting you know what’s happening and when, they’re more structured overall, but therein lies the problem. They gone past organised and ended up in anal-retentive, bureaucratic idiocy territory.
Item 1 – I can be fined 1,000 baht, nearly 5% of my salary, for having my work shirt untucked at any time, in class or out, during school hours or in my free time. I have actually been threatened with this already.
Item 2 – The fact that we actually have a uniform. We’re the only teachers in town required to wear one, at our own expense of course. The polo shirt is a piece of shit designed to make you sweat profusely while looking like you work at Radio Shack.
Item 3 – And this one really gets me. I can only take personal leave if friends or family are visiting. No matter that I have people ready to cover my classes, that all my lesson plans and materials are prepared and that I won’t be getting paid. Unless you have someone coming to see you then there is no leave of any kind, full stop. Fucking ridiculous. Again, we’re the only school in town with such a fuckwittedly insane rule. Apparently the logic is that if we were allowed to take leave whenever we fancied then people would take advantage and we’d end up being on holiday more than we’re at work. Horseshit. We still have to earn money and our friends still have to cover our classes. Never mind the fact that every other school seems to be functioning just fine with their teachers able to take leave whenever they need a break.
That little lot is just for starters. It gets to be a tad wearing when you discuss work with people at other schools and they either wear a look of astonishment for the whole conversation or just laugh in your face. I get where they’re coming from though, it’s a joke.
Don’t get me wrong, the good things about Thailand waaaaay more than compensate for having to deal with a tangle of red tape and an utter lack of management skills. I’m happy here, much happier than I was in Edinburgh and even more so for the current situation with Em. I’m allowed a rant now and again to get shit off my chest though.
I promise that’s the last one for a while 🙂