It's the busy season (Summer - when parents look to place their children into supplementary English language programs at ESL centers and schools), so my schedule's been full. Lost about 50% of my client base when I was in The States for a family medical emergency (sadly, the Vietnamese are rather impatient and had gone elsewhere for their English instruction), but through some contacts and some glad-handing, I was able to replace most of the clients who had departed.
In addition, a good friend of mine here in Hai Phong had to head back to her home base of Toronto to attend to a severe medical situation involving her best friend, and she covered for my ass when I was back in The States, so I was more than happy to return the favour and cover some gigs for her.
FUNNY shit - Got back to Hai Phong in early June, only to hear my wife mention - "Hon, the Pudoodoo people have been calling me asking when you are expected to return from America....."
"Oh, thass nice....are they going to take me to Parkson (thee big-ass Fru-Fru mall in Hai Phong) and then to the salon and film an episode of 'Extreme Makeover - Vietnam Edition'?"
"What is 'Extreme Makeover'? I don't...."
"Never mind. Anyways, why they calling for me?
"They would like you to work for them."
Wow....just git offa the plane, and.......THIS? I mean, I KNEW that there was a severe statistical disparity in the ratio of Tây English teachers / number of teaching positions in Hai Phong...... but, man, after the E-Mails I sent to their Director, Dung (see post of June 20th, 2011), I thought they'd try to pop my ass on some sorta blacklist or something.....
"Errmmm....Mật ong, tell 'em that, regretfully, I have just come to an agreement with the firm of Wardrobe and Dresser to commence work on a project involving intensive displacement, relocation and resettlement in Lê Chân District.....and that I will be occupied for some time with this contract."
"What? Who is being dissettled and replaced in Lê Chân?"
"I don't understand....why are your socks being moved?"
"Tell 'em I'm busy...."
A coupla weeks and a few phone calls later - "Honey, the Pudoodoo people are really quite insistent, and are eager to meet with you."
"Tell them that, whilst I am honoured, I am not interested."
"I have told them that. They still wish to meet with you."
"Christ - FINE!! Ask 'em when they wanna meet....scheeeesch!!"
"They ask if right now is a good time."
So, they came over, an older managerial-type lady and a younger girl, and they were pleasant folk, but sadly, they either couldn't grasp or outright refused to accept that I was not interested in working for their Centre. I had politely explained the situation that had occured at Pudoodoo the last time I had attemped to initially work for them and then assist them with locating another Tây teacher and how that really made me lose my face and created much dishonour (truthfully, it didn't, 'cause Yanks tend to become more pissed off at a situation like that more so then they would be embarrassed and shamed), but they kept stating repeatedly over and over that Mister Dung is no longer employed there and blah blah blah and yadda yadda yadda......
....they ALMOST did it.
They almost wore me down!
LITERALLY, about 45 minutes later, I rolled my eyes and said, "fine, whass the deal?"
"We do not understand, I am sorry. WHAT deal?"
"Well, I had sooooo many issues last time that I attempted to contract with you folks....about salary, my earring, my attire, yadda yadda yadda....that....well....it's just really not worth either of us wasting our time."
"I see. I am sorry about all of that. What would you like?"
AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! Cool....an actual OUT!
"Well, this 'attire' thing. I mean, in my culture [notice that I had stated "....in my culture...." instead of "...in my country...."], the educational professional wears the traditional costume of a Bills T-Shirt, khaki cargo shorts and Teva sandals, and....."
....and they actually agreed to that!
SHIT!!! This wasn't working!
"As far as salary, goes, I am going to require a rate of ten bazillion Vietnam Dong per classroom hour [or some shit like that....can't remember what I had stated exactly] , and...."
....and they actually agreed to THAT!
Errmm....this was NOT going well.....
"Well, looking at all of my other clients on my busy schedule, I can only teach for you on the Ides of the fourteenth Lunar month, providing if the ancestors approve, and......"
"Oooooh....we are sorry. We will need you on the days of Tuesday and Thursday every week and......."
"Oh - không tốt! I cannot allow you to rearrange all of your student's schedules like some sort of sock drawer just to suit me!! That would not be right!!! And, you see, with my current clients, well, they have been with me for many moons, and they are depending on me to instruct their students on those specific days and......"
"Aaaaah...we see. We will discuss this and contact you on Saturday, if that is OK with you?"
"Oh good, good....thank you - that would be great....."
Well, they called my wife on Saturday and explained that, whilst it brings them much sadness, they must decline my offer to teach for them. I was bummed - I wasn't able to continue with them to the part where I demand a 24K gold-plated limousine with an open-air Jacuzzi in the back and a bar inside stocked with Glenfiddich and a few hookers comes and picks me up and drives me to and from Pudoodoo.
I mean, I really did NOT want to come off as arrogant in ANY manner, as I despise arrogance to the 12th exponent, but these folks would just NOT GIVE UP. And I didn't want to be rude and just state "NO!!! OK?? GOT IT??" (ya generally don't do that kinda thing in Asia), so I hadta reach for the stars.....
Dung was gone...and these ladies really, genuinely, seemed like sweet people.....but that last experience left a really bad taste in my mouth about the company as a whole...and, in addition, that whole crrreeeeeeeeepy militaristic thing of students screaming "TEACHER, TEACHER - PLEASE PICK ME!!!" and that weird ritualistic little dance they are forced to do every time they want to answer a question just almost gave me nightmares about Brown-shirts......