Friday, October 31, 2008

haulein Halloween (I'm a sucker for some fun alliteration)

Happy Halloween! This year unfortunately I won't be able to go out and celebrate / get rowdy like I normally do. There are tons of cool parties here tomorrow night, but I will spending the night on a 2 hour train ride to Haulien. Haulien is about 3 hours from Taipei on the Eastern part of the island. Supposedly it's beautiful, majestic, awe-inspiring etc. It'll be my first serious trip outside of Taipei since I've gotten here which to be perfectly honest is pretty disappointing. My schools here have a very strict mindset when it comes to work...I had given notice literally the day I got the job that on November 1st I would not be able to work. They seemed understanding at the time. But then last week, even though they knew why I needed the day off, and with all the advanced notice, my boss asked me: "do you think you can make it back in time to teach your class on Saturday? (my class starts at 12) because we can't find a replacement teacher for you. If you can't make it back to teach your 12 o'clock class, can you make the one that starts at three?"

Really? Sure yea, I'm just running a marathon, three hours away at 7am. BUT I'm sure I can make it back in time and would be willing to show up, sweaty, exhausted, probably delirious, to teach a class. How does that make any sense? Just the audacity to ask me to come back after running a marathon to teach is indicative of the work environment at my adult school. Lately I've felt less and less respected (if I even was to begin with). What they do is tell students that I will teach a class at so-and so time. Then students sign up, and when the class is all filled up, then and only then do they tell me I have a class to teach. The conversation goes something like this:
Boss "ummm hi Brian, How are you? (feigned interest in my life) are you free to teach a class on Wednesday from 830 to 10?"
Me "well I'm not sure, because I work till ten every other night of the week, and I'm already working 14 or so hours here. Between this and my kid's school I'm a little busy. Plus I'm only supposed to work 30 hours anyway. And I really need that time to study Chinese."
Boss: "ohhhh well actually we already have students signed up for the class. It's filled up.... and welll......they would be disappointed if you didn't teach it. Is there any possible way you can do it? Because like I said the class is already filled up, and they think you're going to be their teacher."
Me "well I wish you would've told me earlier. I mean like I said I had no idea about the class. I just don't know. Can I think about it and let you know?
Boss: "sure but it would really help us out if you could do it....I know you're a good teacher (lies) so I wouldn't want to be I'll pray that you will do it"

etc etc and so forth...just a little disrespectful I guess. It's very passive aggressive. Like instead of telling me in person if something is wrong, I'll get a little note on my time card saying : your new class starts Friday. Can you prepare for it. Thanks. Meanwhile my boss sits right in front of the time card machine and could easily jsut tell me....Also because they couldn't find a replacement for my Saturday class, they wanted ME to tell the class that I had to cancel the class. So instead of the school looking bad, I am the one "losing face"...I played it off good though I told my class "I made a commitment months ago, but the school couldn't find a replacement so THEY decided to cancel the class. I'm sorry but if there's any problem you can ask THEM why the class is canceled."
I mean I've got my pride too....I'm no chump.

Before I came here I heard that a big thing here was the idea of "saving Face"...I've mentioned it before, that one of the worst things to do is to lose face; hence the passive aggressiveness of my bosses. I'm the one who ends up looking bad, not the school. I'm the one at fault. I've found that in my other interactions here as well. But a big part of being a responsible adult is admitting mistakes, I think it takes a certain amount of pride to concede that you're at fault....and if something is bothering you, you gotta confront someone about it. I mean what kind of NYer would I be (or what kind of a man for that matter) if I backed down from confrontations or failed to confront someone straight forwardly?.
..just wish I'd get treated more like an intelligent employee, rather than a "foreigner" Anyway more on the issue of constantly being called a "foreigner" at another time...

Point is ...I'm headed to Haulien for Halloween. Running a marathon in Taroko Gorge there at 7am tomorrow morning...and hopefully getting back to Taipei Saturday night. Seeing as how this is one of the only saturdays I'll be off, I plan on making the best of it for sure...but the weather is supposed to be T-storms and 80 something degrees...sweet

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wow I've been here a long time...almost 5 months...pretty crazy

Everything's been good, had a little fiesta at my apartment the other day, between me and my roommate we were able to get about 35 people to show up, it was pretty fun. Surprised by how many people showed up, a lot of Expats, random foreigners, a bunch of Taiwanese was quite the montley crue. Planning another one around Thanksgiving or Christmas time...

Found out my Dad and sister and brother are gonna come to visit. I'm excited it'll be awesome to see people I'm so close to...I really want to show them a good time.

In other news, I've got the marathon coming up on November 1st, in Taroko Gorge. The one I ran last year was painful, brutal, absolutely challenging; but that was also after intense training. This one I'm not feeling too confident. I've been lazy in my training and to be honest Taipei's weather and unfriendly (to pedestrians) sidewalks make training and those long runs really tough to deal with. I'm skeptical about how well I'll do in the race, plus it's in a gorge so the course will be much more hilly than Philly....anyway I'll see how it goes, but I'm not feeling too optimistic about finishing in a respectable time.

Gonna sign up for Chinese classes next week. Enough is enough, knowing how to say "eat shit" and "f--- you mother" in Chinese can only get a person so far here...