May 24, 2006

Work is a necessary evil to be avoided

So I don't write about it much. In the past five years or so, it's just been a grim topic to dance a slow dirge around and I'd rather just bullshit about elevators. Anything, but work.

Y'know, I've been here for almost six-and-a-half years and I would trade much of that time for a pittance. The days here have been dreary slogs with occasional accents as uplifting as rainbows or as wretched as toenail removal. Six years and near six months. Three different schools. I was six years at one place, and it couldn't have been that bad you must think, but my last day there was one of my top five in Taiwan. Not ahead of my wedding day, but you get the picture. I came back from Thailand with a CELTA certificate and wasted the next four months working as a Language Consultant. Dark Days.

I'm currently working at a place that took a lot of "What ifs" and tried them out. The result is ... well, the result is a place that I've been singing the praises of for about three weeks now. I can't remember going to work and being happy to see every one there and the feeling that everyone's greetings came from the heart. It's a brand new business made up of two-hands full of wonderful people that were fired in a fit of anger from the second place where I worked. Everything in Taiwan has a soap opera feel to it if you look from the right angle. The very first day I walked in I noticed that the light was right, the music was right, and what's that smell, oh my god there's a coffee bar in the back and the smoking area is a beautifully landscaped balcony with a lawn that is hand-trimmed. And more money than I've ever been paid in Taiwan.

The meetings are not dictatorial, but are open discussions that often run over time if they don't break up early. The ideas bounce around the room like ping pong balls in the rec room at a summer camp for the blind. The manager helps to shape them and steer conversations, but sits back and takes notes on the high points mixed in with the badinage and works them into the plan.

I made a rare trip to the 89K bar the other night to see Boogie Chillin' and ran into a raft of former co-workers who all wanted to know what had been keeping me busy since we lost touch, the week or year before. This being Taiwan, straight answers are often not the best ones to give depending on with whom you're talking. So I gave out a straight answer for every four or five bullshit answers. I hate to do it, but this is how the rumor mill in Taichung operates. I'm either going back to work for the old company as a manager, or I'm moving to the States, Thailand, East Coast of Taiwan, opening my own school here in town, or taking some time off to figure out what to do with my lottery winnings.

The folks who got the straight dope, however, got it with both barrels: "I have not uttered the words 'I love my job' in years and years and years but I'm tellin' ya now;" " Everyone in the place is happy to see each other every day and we all show up for work early each day;" "The gourmet coffee, the carpeting, the 1:1 ratio of computers to teachers, the fact that we're called 'teachers' and not consultants like at that other horrible place, y'know, it's as if we're working in a great, big, fluffy, lavender pillow." Isn't it gross? I can't think of much worse.

I said it before, and I'll say it again, "You Too Can Teach In Taiwan."


Teacher Gerry said...

Nice story Paul, glad you found something nice here - after six years. Change can be very healthy. I wonder though, I went to your link about anyone can get a job teaching here, and I wondered if you were talking about the same job that you just quit...It doesn't sound so bad.

Work is a huge part of our lives and I believe it has to be - for the most part - a happy expreience around good people...

Paul said...

Well, it hasn't exactly been 6 years of hell on Earth, after all I managed to fall in love, get married, and have a beautiful baby boy. But I agree about the benefits of change. "A change is like a holiday" is a line I picked up from Craig Wright's Oxford teaching workshops.

The guy with the cow udder was not someone I worked with, but someone I met at a guesthouse my first couple months in town. He's since gone (off the deep end?) and only serves as a very extreme example of the kind of nut jobs that do show up here. I'll write about some more that I've bumped into over the years. Memory may make them more freakish.

I backhandedly agree that around good people, it has to be, for the most part, a good experience. I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I'm on my way. Whatever that means.

On good days, like those that I've been passing recently, it seems that the good people have far outnumbered the bad. I like it this way.

Teacher Gerry said...

Har har nice quote from "Yes." Glad to hear about the positives with your wife and son.

I'll look forward to reading more on your blog. It's really cool that you list the links to all the helpful places. Mahalo.