Strange encounters of the foreign kind
Amusing recollections of foreign teaching colleagues
In order to be fair, I thought I should write about some of the more interesting or obscure behaviour, that I have witnessed from foreign ex-pats living in Thailand, or have had related to me by others. Although I'm going to travel back a bit in time, so as not to put anyone's nose out of joint that I know at present.
"You alright, mate"
Sean a thirtyish, diminutive, Irish male teacher, who I had struck up a working friendship with, and who I used to chat to extensively in the teachers' office. And Russel a shaven-headed fortyish, sturdily built English male teacher that by contrast, I had never spoken to. That is, other than to say, "Hi." whereas he always said "You alright, mate." before quickly walking off.
About three years ago on one particularly memorable Saturday afternoon, a little past midday and into the break, insomuch the Irish man not unusually had gone outside and was sitting upon a low retainer wall in front of some plants and shrubs enjoying a sandwich whilst focused on his mobile phone.
When Russell charged over to him grabbed Sean's mobile and shouted at him, "STOP F _ _ _ ING FILMING ME!" then looked briefly at Sean's mobile screen just before tossing it amongst the plants and shrubs. Whereupon, he lunged at Sean with both hands and caught him roughly around his neck, and next forced his head and back onto the vegetation.
Now, pushing his weight down upon him, whilst holding Sean securely, he went into his narrative. "You've bin comin out here, every week, for the past year, to film me eatin my lunch." "And you and that lanky c _ _ _, (referring to me) hav bin standin outside my classroom door, talkin about me an takin the piss, for even longer."
With that, he released the Dublin native and promptly walked off. At which point a Thai security guard at the mall came out to see if he was alright. Slightly shaken, severely stirred; even more than astonished, Sean had no idea who Russell even was. As the gentleman from the Emerald Isle only ever came to do his job, other than speaking to me or the Thai manager, he kept himself to himself.
However, after the related this story to me, and I enlightened him to the fact that Russell had been working there for about 18 months, Sean complained to our Thai manager, and she, in turn, told the owner of the language centre of the Irish teacher's encounter with Russell. And Sean never so much as heard a word back.
He returned to Ireland two years ago whereas I'd already left a short time before while as far as I know, Russell is still working there.
Again a few years back I was teaching in a government school that was procuring a high turnover of foreign teachers. That is after the Thai teachers had had their photos taken with the foreign new recruits, they would soon find a way to get-shot-of them.
How did I survive? No idea, other than in those days I was under the illusion 'That I was the exception to the rule.' just like so many foreign teachers do these days.
Of course, I got to work with a whole load of different people that year, but Bill and Dave have stuck in my mind.
Bill an American, who had previously taught at a Thai university, but there had been issues. Our Scottish agent wasn't exactly sure but to use his words, "Bill might hav bin a wee bit over-friendly, wit some o the young lassies." Great! I thought to myself because we were at a girl's high school, but like the agent said, "Ah, dun nae worry, he will nae last anyways."
After a couple of days and a number of conversations dominated by the topic of young Thai women, where Bill had hinted at professional misconduct. Foremostly, he had confided to me, " If one of them asked me out, I thought to myself why not! She's an adult Goddammit!" I wasn't totally unsympathetic towards Bill's plight as he was only 26-years-of-age.
Although he didn't show up on Wednesday, and neither the agent nor the school was able to contact him as he wasn't answering his mobile phone. No matter, they had sent a substitute teacher to cover his classes. However, by Friday and still no Bill my mind was working overtime on what if's and maybe's.
Though I needn't have concerned myself, because on Monday morning as I walked into the office we shared sitting there bold as brass was Bill.
We exchanged greetings then I sat down and waited to hear his explanation, though it wasn't forthcoming, so I asked. "Bill, where were you for 3 days and why didn't you answer your phone? Bill replied, "Well, late on Tuesday night I took 2 really strong sleeping tablets, " clenching both fists to indicate their strength "and I didn't wake up until Friday night."
The school allowed Bill to teach there for the rest of the week as the agent couldn't find an immediate replacement.
It might have been Dave that replaced Bill, still, I cannot remember. Dave was a 23-year-old South African, with a handsome face, fair hair, crystal blue-eyes, and being a slender 6 feet 3 inches tall, made for a striking figure.
He was also fluent in a number of languages, surprisingly, including English, and was very well-spoken as he had studied at an international school.
Needless to say, Dave was at the very least extremely popular with the females; Thai teachers and students alike. In fact, they could hardly stay away from him in and out of our office on any pretext or for that matter keep their hands off him.
Sadly, he didn't appreciate the attention despite being highly confident with a very amusing personality. The thing was I never figured-out Dave's sexuality, (none of your business you might say and I would agree with you) still I had speculated upon it, gay, asexual, or maybe a late developer.
Cindy a senior female Thai English teacher in her late forties, with a mangy mop of hair and thick-rimmed glasses; unmarried, was the bain of Dave's Thai teaching career, and who he avoided at all possible costs. More than once, I'd see him hot-footing it away from a grinning Cindy, whilst rubbing a cheek of his arse. Yes, there was a good reason why he'd only ever been alone in an elevator with her the one time.
Though safety in numbers, he would venture into the elevator if I were also there. Even so, this didn't prevent Cindy's lewd remarks, "Dave, I can see your pubes." Dave, "I'm sorry, I can't think what you can mean." Now pointing to his especially hairy chest, "Your pubes!" pause "Oh, I see!" a very much relieved young South African.
The students were also touchy-feely with their blond teacher adonis. And some of them were even clever enough to say, "You!" "You no black!" whilst stroking his forearms "Youuu, no black!" with a heavy inference in-that he was from Africa.
Ironically on the school's Sport's Day, he excelled himself by dashingly leading the procession. Donning a woman's wig, long evening dress, full make-up, and 4-inch heels. Apparently, the sixtyish female director nearly blew a fuse and directly phoned the agent to book Dave to teach her private English lessons.
The following week our agent came to sort out an evening schedule for the Sport's Day drag queen to teach the big boss, when he foolishly mentioned that she was very frustrated, (however he thought he knew, I will never know) where our boy refused point-blank to teach her.
After that, Dave could never do anything right by the school and the agent had to let him go a few weeks later - subsequently, he went to teach in India.
At this time, I had been working as a cover teacher for a well-known agency which was a good gig with a full salary, lots of variety, and only 3 teaching days per week. However, I missed the teacher-student relationships of being based in the same school permanently.
Although on the very last day I was called to cover at a government school for an Australian teacher by the name of Bryce. That is, Mark the Welsh programme manager had told me that, Bryce was supposed to be going out the previous evening as it was his fortieth birthday for just one drink. Unfortunately, they were now unable to contact him, and nor could the school.
So there I was on the final day of the final semester with his M2 students asking where Mr Bryce was, and trying to hand into me 5-week projects, that Bryce had set for them. This all made for an ominous third-person introduction to the teacher in question.
Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that for the new school year Bryce was going to be teaching M3 at a known private school whereas I was going to be teaching M2 alongside him.
However, everything seemed to be going fine when the new semester began as Bryce was always well turned-out - smartly dressed and clean-shaven. What's more, he always arrived in our teachers' office before myself and our 4 teaching colleagues.
Contrastingly, after our first payday those teachers with who Bryce exchanged phone numbers; everyone excluding myself received an early morning inebriated call from Mr Bryce, at somewhere between 4 am and 4:15 am to be precise. And each soon hung up after they had realised it wasn't an emergency.
(Bryce once told me how he'd previously had a successful career in TV research, and he certainly did appear to cut that cloth. Furthermore, he had confided to Abe another colleague that he had been engaged to be married to a girl back home, but something had gone wrong and he'd come to Thailand a broken man. This was all very different too the situation he was in at the time because he was sleeping on an ex-Thai girlfriend's sofa, and paying her rent of 4,000 baht a month.)
Bizarrely, the routine continued for the next four months or so, therein he was always first at the office, and always dapper. In contrast, the day after payday or the day or so after that according to how it fell. Thereafter, each of our teaching colleagues would get an alarmingly annoying drunken call at around 4 - 4:15 am.
Consequently, until nice guy (pushover) Mark left and American Peter the asshole took over as programme manager. And yes, I'd forgotten to mention that Bryce also used to phone Mark and his Philippine PA on the same monthly basis.
You've guessed it after Peter got his first early morning call he made sure Bryce's feet never touched the ground and the boozehound was never seen or heard of again.
Well, I hope you were at least a little amused by my recollections of a few of the foreign teaching colleagues I've known over the years.
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Yes, amusing. I have a short one for you. It's about an ex Thailand teacher with an Industry related website online. A very informative place that provides an excellent service and lots of good info. But I fear hard times have fallen upon it.
One day.. and when it started who knows - but Mr X decided to post fictitious articles and try and pass them off as real. Hey, the Teflers will never know right?
The only problem was that when he rehashed some of the old material with a negative derogatory slant. Mr X probably thought the original poster wouldn't notice or his fellow countrymen wouldn't realize the geographical gaffs he'd made when rehashing the story . And Mr X was from OP's original country so he should've been better informed don't you think?
Anyway, I suppose times are hard and stories have to be created with fictitious names so you have to smile about it.
Well, the moral is if you're going to be creative like that at least be educated about it or do some research in advance. As not all people are easily hood winked. And that way you don't end up looking like a rite Charlie now!
By Nicky Farang, Around And About (17th April 2021)
Yes Frank, I appreciate what you're saying, whereas my next 2 blogs will also have a lot of negativity, so I'll apologise in advance.
However, I'll make sure to give a more positive and balanced view of things in the one after those and in future blogs.
By Richard Constable, Bang Na (17th April 2021)
"You alright, mate"
I mean you werent being petty with him were you. I'd leave him be and allow others to work regardless if they are interested in you or not. We arent cats now..
Lets be honest there are many passive aggressive & petty males working as teachers.
Was an interesting read but more focus should be on the positives and keeping it real about work environments.
By FarmerFrank77, BKK (17th April 2021)