Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On My Own Over Here

Feeling a bit lonely. Don't rush for the box of Kleenex just yet, I'm not the kind of guy who would go on Survivor for a week then bust down into sobs when I see a family member or friend I haven't seen for seven days. Those are always the WORST episodes!

I'm not like the guy from Mr. Robot, who curls into a dramatic ball now and then and just cries from his loneliness. I wish I were him. I'd take the loneliness if I could hack my employers and put them out of business. I have a hoodie. Wearing it now cuz I have no heat in my apartment. By the way, GREAT show!

I go years without seeing family and friends with narry a tissue worth of tears. It's just survival. Forced onto me by a country I just outgrew. I have always had a yen, (pardon the pun), to see the world. I loved Rupert The Bear, Tintin and a few other books where you can find pictures of other countries. They seemed like other planets to me as a boy.

Here's Rupert with Tigerlilly. Her father is a conjurer and they fly in the clouds and find a dragon. I forget most of the story but it was one I loved to re-read when I visited my Grandmother and Grandfather's house as a boy. We didn't have Rupert books at home. I still remember wishing I could meet a real life Tigerlilly on my own.

But we DID have some Tintin books. Both of these series' are old, even by MY standards, but nostalgic for me. Even old enough to have a little bit of racism in them. But I didn't notice. I loved the architecture and the total foreign-ness of the pictures. Like this one:


It shows things a lot less crowded and cleaner than what I have experienced, but the Chinese hustle and industriousness is accurate. The architecture and clothing, though some is more modern, is still almost as foreign today. And I just love the adventure of seeing different cultures!

But I have to admit feeling a little bit like the Thompson brothers. I'm trying to fit in and get along here but feel less like a Wae guo ren, (foreign country person), and more like a Laowei, (slang, offensive term more commonly used. Like "gringo" in Spanish.), all the time.

Right from the very first day I was in China and my employers virtually abandoned me saying, "Welcome to a huge city in the most populace country in the world where you don't speak a lick of the language! You're on your own! Find your hotel with no directions from us and don't be late for the meeting early tomorrow morning even though we won't tell you how or where to find us."

I thought I was going to be okay when I moved to Taiyuan because Faith showed some intelligent concern. I say that because it's remarkably uncommon. I sometimes get asked by students if I miss some things from home. I usually talk about the food I miss and they always have the same, unhelpful answer: "Just buy it online." It's not, believe it or not, just the fact that all the online websites for buying stuff here, (Taobao and Ali Baba are the main ones), are impossible for me to use due to my Chinese illiteracy, it's also got to do with banking. Foreigners have special accounts that do not have the privileges you get if you're a native. Then if you can navigate THOSE problems, you need a mailing address. That's notoriously undependable. And if it's a package, you have to go to the right location, which will be on the card in Chinese and you won't know where it is so you'll need someone to help you with that. And people have told me that even if you go to the right place with the right card, and see your package behind the counter, they STILL might tell you there is some more paperwork or bureaucracy required. It's just not worth it. Like just about everything in my experience so far, and I'm serious about that, just about everything is at least twice as hard to do here.

I just got up to get a glass of water. Let me run down the procedure to illustrate what I'm talking about. To GET drinking water in the first place, I have been given a card. I wave it in front of a sensor on a wall-mounted water machine then choose hot or cold, (the Chinese and their hot water!!!), put a container under the spout and get the water. It's up one floor in my apartment, but at least I don't have to go outside to get it. There's that "at least" thinking again.

In my old place I brought jugs to work, filled them up and carried them home. So far the water has been fine. As far as I know. I usually get it at night here, which causes a bit of trouble. See, the hallways are not lit up. The lights are on sensors. Not motion, but noise sensors. Chinese volume noise sensors. So in order to see if my jug is nearly full I have to stomp my foot or yell or cough really loud to get the light on. I'm sure it's annoying to the people who live on the third floor.

Since my fridge no longer works and, despite my telling the correct people, despite asking for the use of one of the two in the spare room on the third floor opposite the water machine, I still haven't been given permission. My fridge is just a lighted storage box for food. The weather here is cold enough now so that it's warmer than just keeping the food out. My freezer is a bit colder than fridge temperature so I can't keep the water in there, but I can't make ice cubes really. I make cubes full of water. So that's what I put in my water so I can have a cold glass of water. When I'm done, I'll fill a tub with hot water in my shower, put it in with some other dirty dishes and wash it beside my bathroom sink, rinsing it under the same tap where I wash my hands, shave, brush my teeth etc. As I always say, it makes for fun stories, but it really sucks while you're going through it.

I'd like to go shopping and buy some stuff like cheese, milk, meat, ice cream, just think of all the stuff that you can't buy without a functioning fridge! It's forcing me into eating habits I don't like. And eating, as anyone who knows me can testify, is very important to me. But I do most of my own cooking. Even in Korea where I like ALL the food, I didn't usually eat out. Here, where I have yet to find anything that has wowed me, it's even rarer for me to eat out. And I'm being nice. The fact is, I don't like the food here. Everything is street food. And it's not even GOOD street food like chicken skewers in Korea or yaki mandoo or beef/cheese ramyun. It's average at best. I eat it just to fill up. By far the biggest discovery to me has been the little chicken burgers one place on campus sells. I usually buy one of their burrito bread wraps so they aren't insulted at my only buying the chicken burgers, (which I think they buy from a 7-11 somewhere). The wraps have egg, cucumber and lettuce, which I like, then there's a strip of mystery meat that is marginally better than spam, some brown sauce painted on, some unidentified pickled veggies and a squeeze of spicy powder. They're not bad, but I can't see myself ever buying one if necessity didn't dictate.

And it's not like I'm not trying things. I have tried MANY things that I couldn't even finish. I mean spit out what's in your mouth and throw away the rest bad! Like today with the shrimp chips I bought. I like Saewoo gang, the Korean shrimp chips. The ones I bought today were spicy shrimp chips and I nearly puked when I bit into one. They're at the bottom of my garbage bag as I type.

This is what I'm talking about. The Chinese ones were shaped identically and most likely made of similar, but cheaper and easier to mass produce stuff. And the flavouring was a nightmare! Awful!

Even the one meal that I need to eat to get my veggies and cut down on my bread, my chicken stirfry, has become more challenging for me. There are easily bought veggies right on campus. Fruit too. So if I wanted to really health out, I could just eat them. I actually did that on my day off. I cut up some cucumbers, carrots, green peppers, celery and just made a dipping tray. What, you might ask, did I dip them in? Well ranch dressing can't be found. Dip mixes are not available. A cream cheese and spice mixture would be good if I could purchase cream cheese, spices or other dairy products needed. Even milk is at a premium here. But, I find myself doing this constantly too, I improvised. I had made some pasta with Ragu roasted garlic and parmesan sauce. I put bacon and green beans in it. It was excellent! But I didn't use all the sauce and my "fridge" wasn't keeping it cold so I needed to use it. It became veggie dip. Not bad, but just not the same.

But my stirfry is now not as good because I have to cook it in the wok that I explained in another post, has the stickiest cooking surface known to man, but it's the only kind of cookware I can use with the electric burners I have. Oh there's a gas stove here, but no gas. "Could I get that hooked up?" I asked when I move in here. I think the answer was something like, "Hummina hummina hummina."

The more I think about this place, Taiyuan University of Science and Tech., my GOOD employer, the more I get a twinge of being completely on my own here. And it pretty much started right away too. I was put to work in late August and I still have not been paid for those hours. I have confronted the person in charge of that by text and in person about 5 times and so far have received nothing but the runaround. I think she wanted me to think she FORGOT about it and not say anything. She's an Asian woman. She's an Asian woman who has been put in charge of accounts so is even better with money, presumably, that other Asian women. This means she would push her best friend into the mud to get a 1 RMB coin they both saw on the ground at the same time. Chances she forgot to pay me: less than zero. One time I texted her and got the reply, "I'm not in town right now." Then the other day I bumped into her on campus and she asked if I'm doing okay so I reminded her of the money. She quickly excused herself to get a taxi she said was waiting and mumbled, "I told George not to give you hours in August." Funny thing is, she was AT the table when I was told by George that I should start right away. She didn't say anything. She printed out my schedule and it included August starting dates for some classes. She went with me to get my bank account and mentioned that we need to do this so we can pay you this month. THAT month. That month was August. Chances that there really was a taxi waiting for her: improbable.

I went up to talk to someone in the office two floors above me. Cindy and a guy I call David are the two people up there who have offered to help if I need stuff. So I mentioned that I have no heat. David came down and fiddled endlessly with the air conditioners, explained the settings to me, didn't answer my other questions with anything concrete, then left. The aircons were on for a few hours and the place was no warmer. But the heat will be turned on at the beginning of November. We'll see how good that is.

I asked about a new fridge and was ignored. I asked if something could be done about the shyte internet and how I have had to alter lesson plans repeatedly because of it. He thought it would make me feel better knowing that THEY are having trouble too. He mealy mouthed about someone maybe coming to fix it but it's no better. I also asked about the computers all over the school and explained how they have messed up one of my USB flashdrives and cost me some important files. The response was that he'll ask George to ask if there is a technician...blah blah blah. Nothing will be done. George, the guy who speaks English the best of the three, is the guy who did most of the talking at the meeting when I agreed to work here. He scheduled 6 hours of classes for me at the South Campus and didn't tell me where to catch the bus there or how to get to the room where I teach. He also neglected to mention two scheduling changes and gave me the wrong starting time for one of my classes. He assigned me a TOEFL class and a Survey of Major English Speaking Countries class and I requested books or ideas or any help at all. I got it AFTER the classes had started. It really didn't help for either class and, here's that lack of intelligent concern again, he told me to meet him in the pink building beside the library. Well it was just dumb luck that I knew where the library was. Of course Chinese people all go there, but why would I? There are no English books and I can't yet read Chinese though I have been here studying once a month for over a year now.

There are pink buildings on both sides of the library. I just chose one. He gave me the room number. In English. But the rooms didn't have numbers in English. I know it sounds weird because the Chinese use the same number we do, but they have characters for their numbers as well.

Okay, one to three I have under control but if I'm looking for numbers, I'm certainly not going to notice them. His office had the room number in Chinese characters. He didn't think to mention that. We ended up having to call each other and meet outside the building, (I had chosen the right one and actually walked past his office). And HE was the one who acted annoyed! Like I should have been able to locate him. He might as well have given me the hand signals. Yes, they have those too and they are not the same though the general public will assume you know them. One little shithead at one of the stores near my old place, where they actually ripped me off a couple of times, charging me the Laowei price, tried a few times to tell me the price in the hand signals. "I don't know your fucking hand signals, but here's one for you!" I wanted to say. I didn't say that because, like the Thompson brothers, bless their bumbling, Belgian behinds, I was trying hard to fit in.

Liu is 6. I know that one cuz they, borrowed/stole the hang loose gesture from some creative genius Hawaiian surfer, (I'm guessing), and say liu liu liu to mean cool. Interesting... cool in China is 666. Isn't that a familiar number??? It's one that appears on the spawn of some evil, evil entity in the world. Who is it again???

Ha ha ha ha!

Anyway, I can rest unassured that THAT problem will be solved at any time in my future. And twice while he was here I mentioned to David, the little scam Cindy ran on me with the August pay. It's not a lot of money, but I am already thoroughly sick of being ripped off here. He got this weird look on his face, a kind of, "hmmm... what's going on here," look but gave me the perfunctory, "I'll talk to Cindy about that." And once again, these are my GOOD employers. I'm getting paid 7000 a month here for full time hours. That's a bit over a thousand American bucks. I prefer to think of it as 1300 Canadian. But still I have to go WAAAAY back to my salad days to remember a salary like that. You'd think the apartment that comes with that would be palatial! I can't even get a fridge that works, heat or a kitchen sink!

And then to add to my solitary melancholia, my original employers. Since the massive screw job, you'd think they would be treating me like gold, not slashing my profits to nothing. I seriously have been here for 8 months and am just now reaching the amount of money I had when I came here. And when I quit, it was made quite plain to them that without me, they have nothing. I'm their only teacher. So I AM gold. But if anything, they've been worse. Not a week goes by without some major fight. This week was payday. Because they have the month and a half stagger, (used only by crooked employers who know their employees will quit and leave suddenly, because of being mistreated no doubt, and they, the employers, want a whole pile of the employee's money when he/she takes off), I have made 12000 RMB by payday, that's close to 2300 Canadian dollars! So I don't want to be stiffed for that! But a month ago, when I was paid 5 days late and 3000 RMB less than I'd earned, I suspected I'd be ignored at payday this time. As it got closer, and we had argument after argument, I was feeling worse and worse. This is stress I don't need working 9 different classes with about 350 students.

Payday was on a Sunday. Back in the good old days, when Huasheng actually WAS paying me, I think there were two paydays that fell on weekends. They paid on the Friday before. This time, they didn't. But I didn't get too worried thinking it must have been the new, useless and thoroughly annoying HR girl they have there. I think she's in charge of putting money in the bank. Then Sunday rolled around. Nothing. Again, I was going to give them the umpteenth benefit of the doubt. My doubt is running out of benefits for these guys, lemme tell you! Monday nothing. Tuesday nothing. I tried to reach three people and was ghosted for two days by all of them. I was pretty sure they had just decided not to pay me. 12000 RMB down the toilet. "Hey, a whole case of beer beside, (not inside where it should be), my useless fridge. Why, I think it's about time to do the end of employment day off." I says to myself. This is something I've only done a few times at places where I had totally decided to quit. I drank about 22 beer.

The next day my phone was ringing off the hook! Because it was time for me to make THEM money. NOW they had to stop enjoying the little game they were playing. When they called me and told me I had to work I told them I was sick. Here's how much I hate the Chinese lying culture and will NEVER be able to fit in: I drank my face off so that I'd be able to half honestly say I was sick. A hangover IS sick, sorta. They annoyed me all day long asking if I was feeling good enough to work, asking if I could go in and just not say much... I just told them there was nothing they could do. At the end of the day I went to check my bank account. Guess what.

Once again, be an asshole and you get rewarded here in China. At least where I work. But I can't keep this up. I have a bit more than a month left in the semester at TUST and my contract with Huasheng. I really want to just quit right now because I STILL think Huasheng will stiff me one of the next two paychecks. I think TUST will pay, but who knows? They're all part of the same hypocrisy. And just when I thought I was out, they keep dragging me back in.

I am REALLY hoping that I can get on at an Australian uni up in Shenyang where my friend Gord works. I have been in touch with them and given my CV and they have said I would be a suitable candidate. We are waiting for word from above, but once she receives it, Donna, the girl who I hope will be my boss soon, will call me in for an interview and we'll get some paperwork done and by next semester, in late Feb., early March, I might be out of the Chinese wok and onto the Australian barbee! EVERYTHING about this job is better. I sure hope it pans out. So in my solitary darkness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it's not an oncoming train.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Whole World Is Failing Kindergarten

I read a few polls taken in China, ranging anywhere from 2% to 49% in things like being "engaged" in your job, "job satisfaction," "liking your job," and a couple other ways to describe being satisfied with one's employment. Factored in here must be the chances of getting accurate information out of China, which, admittedly, isn't as hard as it once was, but still not easy. Also all these people surveyed HAD jobs before the survey and there are MOOOOORE than enough people to replace them AFTER the survey. If you know what I'm saying... So I'm absolutely shocked at the results of this survey done by Gallup that came up with only 6% engaged in their jobs! And probably 5% of those were just too scared of losing the jobs they hate to say anything against their jobs that could be construed as grounds for firing.
And it's not only boring factory jobs like this poor sod in the pic. It's lots of other jobs too. Jobs that are sometimes interesting. The main reason, I read in another article like this, for dissatisfaction is the main reason anyone gets a job: money. Chinese are still woefully underpaid even though salaries are going up around the country. I did a speed dating exercise in a class where some of the boys were chosen as eligible bachelors and several groups of girls had to interview them, (like the job interview you get on a first date), then decide which bachelor they wanted to date. I told the bachelors to lie all they wanted to make the girls love them. Of course one of the questions asked by all the girls was about salary and even though I had wild and outrageous lies being told like one guy was a North Korean spy, another was the father of 42 children, the most fantastic salary given was less than I'm making here. And I'm making less than anybody I know. I kinda felt a bit sorry for those kids. Because with that kind of thinking, I know they'll all get jobs standing in front of restaurants in the summer heat dancing around in a teddy bear suit full of their sweat for 12 hours and they'll be deliriously happy with a few bucks an hour for that. Until they realize how much more they should be making. Then every second in that sauna suit will haunt them.

I want some people around here to like their jobs. I need the bus driver who takes me 4 times a week to and from the South Campus here to be ENGAGED in his work. I don't want him grumbling under his breath, "Look at this guy. Thinks he's so big, well, he IS big, but thinks he's so great cuz he's a university teacher. He's no better than me. From Canada. Who cares? I could go to Canada. If I had just ONE more mark on my university entrance exam. One lousy mark, or just the money to bribe a person to give it to me! THEN he wouldn't think he's better than me. THEN I'd have a job where I don't have to work holidays and weekends to feed my four kids. Oh curse my superior reproductive genes! Curse the one child policy! AH TA MA DE!!!" Then he jerks the bus off the bridge or into oncoming traffic. I don't need that right now in my life. The driver's wife and four kids don't need that. The other people on the bus don't need that. The thousands of friends and family members of all involved in the accident don't need that in their lives. THEIR friends don't need that.

So, pay a bus driver a little bit more and make thousands of lives better. Could it really be that simple? It certainly could, and it is just as simple in reverse. Screw a worker a little bit more and make thousands of lives worse. THAT in a nutshell is why life sucks more and more in direct proportion to the increasing income disparity throughout the world. I'm sure of two things: this, and that I'll never be able to prove this. But can you disprove it? Can you prove that the reason a friendly stranger said hello to you today wasn't because some cardboard collector in China just discovered recycling depots are paying a little more per kilo of cardboard? It could be! Or can you prove that the person who put gum in the pay toilet coin slot didn't do it because some Chinese businessman had to sacrifice his golden week family holiday to go into work three days in a row without pay? That could be too! The butterfly effect they call it, isn't it? I didn't just think this up.

It does my head in that the solution to all the indescribable suffering in this world could be so simple. What did it say in the Bible? Something like "From the mouths of babes and sucklings comes perfect praise." Yeah, cuz they haven't been infected by the avarice and greed of the world yet. If you want to know why the world is so full of pain, anguish, horror, squalor and filth, it's basically because all the people with any power, the rulers, leaders, dictators, bankers, captains of industry, and the owners of the companies we work for, are almost all failing kindergarten.

Everything we learn in kindergarten, (and I've worked in several kindergartens in several countries, we all teach our kids the same basic things), gets replaced with euphemistic phrases that mean essentially the opposite. Let me give you the example I hate the most: In kindergarten we're taught not to cheat. "Cheaters never win. Winners never cheat." When we get out into the business world and learn that adults HAVE TO cheat, we then start saying, "It's just business." In kindergarten, we're taught not to bully. In real life we say, "Hey, don't take it personally. I'm an equal opportunity asshole." In kindergarten we're taught to not do bad things. As an adult we say, "If I didn't do it, someone else would have." In kindergarten we're taught to be patient and wait our turns. As we get older we learn that he who hesitates is lost. We pride ourselves on spontaneity. But it has been wisely said that "intuition is the suspension of logic due to impatience." Patience is but the art of concealing our impatience. But it seems a lost art in the fast paced world of today. Lost along with our childhoods I suppose.

And what about honesty is the best policy? That's about as rare nowadays as an alien abduction insurance policy. (And those actually DO exist!) Honesty as a policy though, I'm not sure IT still exists. If it does, it has to be in a little child who hasn't yet learned to lie. And how can you blame the kids for learning to lie? We lie our asses off to THEM! Santa, Easter Bunny, fairies, ghosts, you can do anything you put your mind to, and then we ask, "Did you take the last cookie? Be honest." The kid should  just say, "Should I be honest or should I be as honest as you've been to me?" BAM! Cookie earned!

My Mom used to call it, "Telling stories." "But Mom, I think I saw Jeff opening the cookie jar." She'd say, "Are you telling me a story?" "No, really! He had chocolate on his hands too! I saw it!" "If you're telling me stories, you'll get it!" I usually WAS and I usually DID. I put my faith in the story over the truth because in the story, I was such a nice little boy! Even sometimes when I got cracked with the wooden spoon I would feel a little self-indulgent outrage having almost completely convinced my SELF I hadn't taken the last cookie. I believe the mental ailment that allows people to ignore simple rules of honesty and morality in favour of their selfishness, is when they become such horrible people that they either completely deconstruct due to self-loathing, or they slip into a mental state of defensive conviction that they REALLY are good little boys.

I am living in a society that actually encourages the latter! It's bizarre! Not long ago, when I quit for the first time, I talked to some people here at the university about just quitting the other job I have and working for them. But since they pay a very low salary, I wanted them to allow me to work part time elsewhere. The person I was talking to knows another friend of mine here and I received a call almost immediately from her. It's Faith. I have mentioned her before and have said that I have faith in Faith. This day my faith took a bit of a hit. She called me up and said, "Dave, don't tell TUST that you will be working somewhere else part time." I said, "Why not, honesty is the best policy, right?" She gave me a scoff I had received from a few Chinese people who heard me use the words honest and business less than a thousand words apart. She says, "Everyone knows everybody teaches part time a little bit, you just don't tell them!" I said, "Why not? It'd be fun to start a new policy here, wouldn't it?" Another, "Oh you're so naïve!" chuckle.

The unnecessary lie. I have seen so many examples of it over here in Asia! What do you say about a place that has so blatant a disrespect for honesty? Why would ANY dumb schmuck do business with them? Ahem...

Another example. Three times I have tried to buy a Kia Tiger jersey in my size. Three times I have been guaranteed the product and three times after waiting, (even after sending a shirt my size and not receiving it back!!!), they couldn't do it. That shirt I blogged about? The reason I call the movie, "The Big Short," "The Big Shirt?" THAT'S the shirt I lost. Of all the shirts I could have sent and lost, it's the only one with a story behind it! And why? Because of this culturally pathological imperative to avoid any unpleasant truth. Even though we all learned how to tell even unpleasant truths in Kindergarten! But as the saying goes, "If you practice anything a lot, you get good at it. Including B.S." And it must have taken endless gruelling deception workouts to come up with the following gem of self-cleansing: "It's only a lie if you get caught."

Call it what you will, "statement recalibration," "spinning," "massaging the facts," it is a lie whether you get caught or not. Simple. And I love these people who start statements with things like, "In all honesty..." "In truth..." "To tell the truth..." "I'm gonna be honest with ya..." like it's an exception to the rule. It certainly has been over here in Asia in my experience. That's why when people say, "Why, you must have had some great experiences over there!" I sometimes say, "Yeah, I have some stories. Yeah I have some doosies!" Meaning stories the way my Mother used the word, of course. The job I'm working right now is like the Stephen King of stories!

Then, of course, the big one. Playing well with others. Be nice to one another. As Bill and Ted said, "Be excellent to each other!" Again, kindergarten simple. So why is it so hard to do as we get older? It's because of greed. It's been infecting the minds of the white man since he came to North America. The American and Canadian natives had words for this disease of the brain. "Wasichu" or "one who eats the fat. Like Cartman who eats all the skin off the KFC while the other boys are helping bring the groceries in then leaves. Washichu.

It was also called "Wetigo." The white man suffering from it was called a Windigo and was said to comsume others souls and his own with greed. The natives understood this mental illness better than us because they were more advanced than us.

But what do we call it today? "Ambition." What do women call it? "Goals." When they say they want a man with goals. A man going somewhere. They want a mentally ill, selfish Windigo who will probably just be a big asshole. They don't know it because we're not very advanced. We're all FAILING KINDERGARTEN! But why are things like this?

Because we have this notion that good behaviour is childish. Kindness is weakness. Honesty is infantile. Being a good person is naïve.

But we start every child off with the exact opposite advice because we want them to succeed in life. Look, there are two logical things we could do here: Either stop lying to children and tell them that life is hell and teach them how to cheat people and get more than their fair share of everything to ease their suffering a little bit, or to have the adults stop being assholes to each other.

Now that I've written this out I realize which one of those would be a million times easier.

Talk about yer all time blog backfires!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

War War is Stupid and People are Stupid

Trump is still in office. Of all the things labelled with that most overused of overused words, "amazing," THIS fact is perhaps most worthy of the word. And he's showing again and again the kind of support for the issues and the people who, (allegedly), got him the position. I still don't think there are enough reactionary douchebags in the U.S. or the whole world to get a guy like this voted into office but then I've never been to most of the states that were reported to be instrumental in his presidential victory. If you can't tell from the carefully worded start to this post, I don't believe for a second Heir Strumphmeister was fairly elected as president. But I haven't believed many of the elections in North America since I started following politics. (For the purpose of this post I'll say I have no idea about the elections in Mexico. You'll understand that later). I KNOW for a fact two elections in the States were faked. And the same number in Canada. This is in all probability the third for the US. But what do I know? It could be way more than that. I'll eat my underwear if it's less. How long before people stop nervously clutching their cherished belief that there actually exists a democracy in the North America? Actually, for all I know there could be one in Mexico, but then who the hell cares that they're part of North America? Do you think of them when you hear "North America?" Do you even think of Canada? The Mexicans might just be the most democratic nation of the three for all I know! Maybe that's why I DON'T know!

As for the States, apparently the very far right got Pumpkinhead elected and it was in the states that I've never experienced. I've only been just over the border to where Americans are very much like Canadians. Not down to where people are pluckin' at banjos and telling outsiders to squeal like a pig. So this would make him the president of the American reactionary douchebag. POTARD for short.

War Dogs. The bad guy in that movie. When he was arrested, did the arresters ask themselves, "Should we give him 4 years in prison or 4 years in office? In case you haven't seen it, it's a true story about one of these anti-social psychopathic guys who has no empathy for even the closest people in his life and how he became a huge hit in the anti-social, fuck everybody but you, business world. It's actually not a recent story either. The environment today is worse.

The very beginning of the movie is a stating of a fact that puts a whole lot of things abruptly and harshly into perspective. It's not a new fact but it's stated in a more matter of fact factual way. "What do you know about war? They'll tell you it's about patriotism, democracy, or some shit about the other guy hating our freedom. You wanna know what it's really about?" 2 million soldiers fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. One soldier's gear costs $17,500. It cost 4.5 BILLION dollars each year just to pay the air conditioning bills of these wars. War is an economy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is in on it, or stupid."

There aren't many things you can say about one country that include the phrase "more than all other countries combined." For instance, my country, Canada, has more lakes than all other countries in the world combined. Nobody knows that. Not even Canadians. Cuz we don't like to brag. But it's true.

It follows that Canada has more private fishing licences per capita than any other nation. It would be almost impossible, due to our low population, to have more fishing licences than all other countries combined, but just about everybody has one in Canada.

Australia plays more sports than any other country. For a country of 24 million, Australia punches well above its weight. They've won the World Cup in Cricket, Rugby League and Union, Netball, Softball, Women's Basketball as well as the Asian Cup in Soccer. Australia has dominated the medal tally in nearly every Commonwealth Games ahead of larger nations like England and Canada, and has finished in the top 10 in every Summer Olympic medal count since the 1992 Olympics.

You can't find an Aussie who doesn't play a sport. I've met a ton and never one who doesn't play a sport.

China executes more people every year than the rest of the world combined. And, as I have reported, albeit a bit tongue-in-cheek, they have ridonkulously low value for human life, other than their own. I am not going to post videos of babies being run over and people just walking by, because I have standards. But I can think of only a few countries where this can happen and China is one. I'm not kidding, I have the footage. They don't wait for other people, they don't care for other people, they don't bat an eye when they see other people in obvious need. I have seen Chinese people helping those in need so I don't believe the entire country is sucked into this evil just yet, but it's rare to see the good Chinese.

And the U. S. of A. has consistently spent more on its military, war, and weapons of destruction, mass or not mass, than all other countries combined. They have more school shootings than all other countries. They have more personal guns than anyone. Statistically everybody owns more than one. And they participate in more war than any other country. Watch the movie "War Dogs." It's their number one industry.

What my point is, is that a country's number one industry has massive effects on the character and culture of its people. This can be said in large countries about their provinces. The province of B.C. where I'm from has been known for forestry for a long time, but the REAL number one industry is a smaller tree carefully grown in hydroponic grow ops in Kelowna and pretty much every city in the province. B.C. bud is our biggest industry. And it follows that the top two cities where people are likely to smoke weed are Vancouver and Victoria. Both in B.C.

Indeed the U.S. is actually the most prolific producer of products in the whole world! There is not a single person in the world who would guess that except maybe a soldier. What the average person sees is electronics made in China, plastics made in China, toys made in China, clothes made in China, machines made in China, appliances made in China, even food made in China, but according to this article, the U.S. outproduces China by 40%. It's not the most reliable of sources and it strays away from far and away the nation's number one client for manufacturing, but, I've already told you, watch the movie, "War Dogs." The U.S. manufactures more MILITARY goods than China manufactures goods. That's why it's not mentioned in the above article, because it's not something most people can feel overly proud of.

According to this article the U.S. has lost over 42,000 factories since 2001. The Chinese make five times the steel the Americans do. Technology, tools, clothes, the article lists all the industries that America has gone from world leaders to lagging behind China in, but it doesn't mention the one reason America is still kicking ass in world production. The Chinese even make more CARS than the U.S. now. Can you name a Chinese car? So how are they still outproducing China and why don't you and I see, "Made in the U.S." labels on very many items? Unless, unlike me, you have been on the market for a firearm or ammunition lately.

So then, the question begging to be asked is, "How does this affect the culture of the U.S.?" I think the world has seen repeated and blatantly obvious examples of the effects of being a country obsessed with war. Las Vegas is just the latest example. Ironically, in the movie, "War Dogs," you find out that Las Vegas is the home of massive weapon shows every year. But the U.S. is not going to put any restrictions on its number one industry, public or national. Just like the Japanese won't abandon electronics, Russia won't abandon natural gaz, the U.S. won't abandon war as its number one resource. They will find newer and more convincing ways to justify it, but they won't abandon it. They have abandoned all their other industries to strengthen it. They've basically put most of their eggs into the war basket. In all other industries, there's some other country that can outperform them. Wait, no, in healthcare costs, private prison and war. And, again, we can see the obvious results of all three. But I'm ripping on war right now.

It is NO coincidence that the POTARD is Donald Trump, a guy who has already shown no hesitance to blow some shit up. So, Trevor, when you ask when the time is to seriously talk about gun control in the U.S., this is probably your answer. Not until they totally reverse their economic plan of the country for the past couple of decades. Until then, remain scared and armed. That is all.

I suppose it's safe to say that the U.S. is not ONLY depending on war for its economy. That would certainly be disastrous if for some reason there were no wars. And if the American government were honest and ethical in maintaining world peace and avoiding war, like they claim to be, it could be disastrous to their economy. If only there were a country to compare it to. A country that scared its citizens to death about possible invasions from, oh, let's say Greece and Yugoslavia just for fun, spent all their national food, social program, employment and development budget on building bunkers, training soldiers and arming the country to the teeth. Then nobody came to the war. What a sadsack country THAT would be! ha ha ha.

Oh, wait. That's Albania. Again, watch "War Dogs." But that's not going to happen to the U.S. They've perfected the anti-Albania plan. If war doesn't come to them, they just manufacture it. They're number one in the world at it!

So don't expect to see a drop in fishing tackle sales in Canada. Don't expect to see Australians staying indoors and taking up knitting. Don't expect to see the Chinese, well, bad example. We don't really see them doing what they do. One of the top reasons for secrecy and this crappy internet I have here. And don't expect to see the Americans getting along with every country in the world. They'll be in on wars they have nothing to do with. It's their bread and butter. It's their hot dog and apple pie. And, I hate to point out the obvious, don't expect anything but a coincidental drop in these mass murders in the the U.S. It's terrible every time it happens, but like the terrible storms that are increasing, try your best to get used to them. They're only happening because rich people want to get richer. And who are we to stop them?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Fuk Yu: The New Kung Fu

"Thank you China." I bet that's not what this blonde lady in the pic is thinking. She's probably thinking, "I paid 240 bucks for THIS?" She looks like she might be a knowledgeable hockey fan who can tell a stinker when she sees it. That's not just sour grapes either. I wanted to see this game live, but couldn't, so now I'm saying it wasn't worth going to. Right? Well, maybe that's part of it. But not all of it.

What's that towel-waving, Chinese gal thinking? Props for having the right hat on, by the way. There was one interview done on Chinese TV with a young girl wearing a Dallas Mavericks jersey. She probably went there to see Yao Ming. I have commented before how it bugs me when people wear the wrong team's jerseys to games. "I'm supporting the Washington Capitals by wearing an OV jersey to a game between two other teams!" Maybe that's what THEY'RE thinking. But the wrong sport? Sack of hammers...

Or, who knows, maybe this lady is happy because she bought her 240-dollar ticket for 37 bucks. Apparently that's the hit the scalpers outside the stadium were taking on tickets to this game. This Globe And Mail article talks about that and how the NHL blew it with this series. Those were the words of Phil Esposito who says he saw nothing of the game in the Chinese newspaper. Things I'd personally like to see: Phil Esposito reading a Chinese newspaper.

But his point is a good one. None of my students had heard about it. Few even know what hockey is. So they're not going to pay $240 to see a strange sport. Those are Vancouver prices that Hong Kong Chinese real estate flippers pay. To a regular Chinese person, that's a fortune! That's half a month's salary to the girl who acts as my translator and facilitator. And she works a lot of hours for free. And I think that's just what they SAY they will pay her! I was trying to get her to help me buy a ticket online and even she was having a hard time. We finally found a site and it was about 120 bucks and she said, "Should I pay for it then?" I asked, "Did you choose a seat?" She said she didn't. It was probably just some scammer posing as a ticket site. This is a very big problem in China. Along with countless other scams. So we didn't get that one. In the end I just decided not to go because with 5 new classes dumped on me this week, I've got heaps of planning to do. Plus, of course, I caught a cold. So I would have liked to go, but even though this is historic, it's not the end of the world.

And to be honest, these are pre-season games. Okay, they had the bigger names playing, but that might have made the game worse. These are the veterans who have a roster spot already. They're playing just hard enough not to get injured. If they'd included some rookies trying for a spot in the line-up, Brock Boeser perhaps, we might have seen somebody who wasn't floating out there. Nobody was hitting and there were no fights. Bring a young aspiring enforcer or power forward or two like Mike Mersch,, Zack MacEwen or Jonah Gadjovich and put them out on the ice at the same time long enough to build up some hatred for one another, there coulda been some fisticuffs. The Chinese media would have been all over THAT in the papers, you can bet a few RMB on it! This is the land of Kung Fu, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Crouching Dragon Hidden Palace or whatever. It looked to some like the game in Beijing was kept close and then tied up late just showcase the penalty shot in China. I think they could have included the thing about hockey that gets more asses out of seats than an overtime, short-handed, championship-winning goal - a fight. Or at least a little bit of hitting and hard-nosed hockey.

And speaking of fighting... I am starting to tune into the martial art of fighting the Chinese employer. They are out to suck every Renminbi out of every employee and are, as I've argued a thousand times before, NOT clever about it. Which of the scams on that list above took above average cleverness? "Uh, hello? Tenant? What's yer name again? I, um, like forgot? Oh yeah, Mr. Shin. Uh, you know that landlord you have? Like for the house, I mean apartment, I mean PLACE where you live? Uh, yeah, well it's me. Yeah. And so like this month? Okay? This month I like, uh, changed my bank account? And my name? Okay? So we're gonna need you to, like put, you know, like whatever your rent is? um... like into this account? Okay? It's like, 2539887710 or something? Okay? And my new name is..." And people FALL FOR THIS!

"Okay, I work for this bank? You know? As you can see I have the uniform on? So like, as you know, banks are the honestest places to, um, like put lots of money into? Especially in China where nothing is, like regerulationed? So I will give you 10% interest, or something. No? Okay, 20% interest! Yeah? Okay so just hand over the money then. Account paperwork? No, see we can't do that? Cuzza like laws and stuff? And this is a SECRET account. We can't give this deal to everyone. I have known you for, like, um, 3 minutes and already I know you're, like, the kinda person who deserves this deal? You know? Oh and also? There's like a rule? Don't, um, like, check? The account? To like see if yer money's still there? Okay?" And people FALL FOR THIS!

And the people who do this. How can they live with themselves? It's a source of endless fascination to me! But the article explains it. The banks blame the customer for believing the people who offered high interest rates. Because, a bank that takes your money and invests it in things that only banks and privileged rich people are able to invest in, quadruples your money in a week? You know? They can, um, like only pay you like zero? Point 8 percent and stuff? They are absolutely no different than average scammers. No smarter either. It's just bullies who never grew up shaking people down for lunch money. And they sleep at night because of the con man mentality. "Wull, cuz, like, I'm smarter than you? Kay? So like, um, maybe next time someone like, um, tries to like scam you? Maybe you won't be stupider than, like that dude? And stuff? So like you really should be thanking me?"

I'm trying not to judge this whole country on the actions of the few I've seen but so many things that I see point to this finely honed martial art of thinking only of oneself and screwing everyone else! What might one call this art that has no less reverence and is probably even wider spread than Kung Fu? What is a name that cuts right to the very heart of this seemingly ubiquitous practice? I think the new Kung Fu should be called Fuk Yu.

People just don't wait for other people in this country. I explained about the walking. EVERY time I go for a walk, dozens of people cut in front of me and force me to stop. "Fuk Yu!" Every time I take a taxi or bus the driver pulls out in front of other people forcing them to stop, sometimes abruptly. "Fuk Yu!" I was hit by that scooter rider on one of the widest streets I've been on in my life! She had 30 yards either side but made a concerted effort to cut me off and make me stop. "Fuk Yu!" We only crashed because back then I was unwise in the ways of Fuk Yu. Like a young grasshopper I had to absorb its essence from my surroundings and I was not yet open to absorption.

This morning I rode the bus to the South Campus to teach 4 hours of classes to make up for classes missed on the upcoming Mid Autumn Festival. A common practice here in China. You get a day off for some long honoured traditional practice, and, because the bosses are masters of Fuk Yu, you have to come in on a Saturday to make up for it. So because of companies using this highly skillful Orange Crane deadly one hand strike, workers across the country honour their skill and get a day off, but don't really get a day off.

On the way to the bus I met with a lady I'd seen a few times and we'd ridden the bus together. She actually stopped me to ask the difference between Puritans and Pilgrims the other day. Her English is very good. But she is the kind of gal, not very common around here, who wears sunglasses even when it's not sunny? Who wears fashion a little younger than her, and puts on a bit too much make-up." I asked just as we reached the bus, "Are you teaching make-up classes today?" "Fuk Yu!"

It wasn't an intentional Green Cobra windpipe strike, it was just lucky. I am a good student and am progressing faster than Master Oogway predicted. I got on the bus and a few of the regulars, most of whom had never uttered a word of English, were laughing and giving me thumbs ups. AND speaking English! "Good make-up joke!" Again, there you go, being an asshole gets you further. This lady, before the bus even got underway, took out a pastry for her breakfast and before opening it asked me if I'd had breakfast. I ALWAYS eat breakfast but on this day I hadn't so I told her. She gave me her pastry. Be an asshole - get free food. Lesson learned.

The pastry, and this might say an awful lot about the person who gave it to me, was a ROSE flavoured pastry. I opened it on the bus just to taste and it had a very flaky and messy outer shell and, sure enough, the inside tasted exactly like a rose. I like the smell of roses but... I put it back in its wrapper and told her it was too messy to eat on the bus. I got to class early and ate as much of the pastry as I could without eating the rose flavoured centre. Ewww! But, on the way to class I explained to her the terms make-up exam and make-up class. Maybe she won't be so nice to me now. Or did she know I'd hate the rose pastry? Was she practicing some lesser known non-violent Buddhist Fuk Yu technique from the Temple of the Smiling Wren? This intrigues me...

So to the class. It was a make-up class and since this class would be ahead of others if I taught the next lesson in the curriculum, I just did something that I though would be fun for them. We went over basic vocab for describing people then I gave them the cards and questions from a game I made based on an old game my family used to play called "Whozit." You ask questions in turn to any of the people playing about the character they have on the card they got. I made cards like football player, rice farmer, movie star, used car salesman, (who has to lie), drill sergeant, (who only says NO), politician, (who says anything he wants), cheerleader, (who only says YES), game show host, anchorman, rapper, (who are Bob Barker, Will Farrel and Snoop Dog although none of my students recognize any of them). ONE girl recognized Marilyn Munroe as the movie star. ONE! But this was the least of my problems.

I just assumed the concept of taking turns could be handled by a group of university students. Nope. NObody was waiting for anybody! "Fuk Yu!" Just shoot off a question whether it's your turn or not. Then I saw several people lying. "Fuk Yu!" The person has the gameshow host, (Bob Barker), and is asked, "Are you old?" Answer: No. "Fuk Yu!" Everybody in the class was just doing the game the fastest and easiest ways they could think of, NOT the way that I explained, which is the FUN way. So they were figuring out everybody's characters, as a group, and nobody was winning. There was no competition. So they were not enjoying it and finishing way too early. It took me most of the two hours to finally get a couple of the better groups doing it right and they WERE enjoying it. But the whole class I was fighting against Fuk Yu again.

Anyway, the latest from work. This Saturday class fiasco from the hockey game day? It's now been extended to a permanent class on Saturday. "Fuk Yu!" I have a 22-hour week and they just can't find an opening for this class anywhere else? No, this is clearly Blind Cockroach school of Fuk Yu. But I am not giving in. I asked why not all of the other open slots in my schedule. These are 9-year-old kids and their reply was, "No they are studying at all of those times."  FUK YU! So I reply with, "So you are demanding that I teach on Saturday AND Sunday. Well first of all, I was promised two days off in a row in my job interview for this position. I made it clear that it was important to me. You're taking that away now? And secondly, Sunday is a stat. holiday. If you make me teach then, we have to come to a bi-lateral agreement on a substitute day off. I will agree only to the Saturday. So I will teach one or the other but not both." Hah! Spinning, flying roundhouse kick to the pelvis!

They reply with, "Okay, I see." Now I have them where I want. They were not expecting one so young in the ways of Chinese Fuk Yu to land such a devastating blow. They return with, "Okay Saturday class will be from blah to blah," giving me the time of one class not the other. I give them the Screeching Owl reverse psychology knife hand strike to the groin. "I think it would be easier to just make me work Saturday and give me the holiday off, but I will let the boss decide." The thing is, as I told you, I was already teaching 4 hours on Saturday at the South Campus. I didn't want to combine that with 4 hours at their office because including driving time, that's an 11-hour day. I'd rather just teach on the holiday. "Know your opponent grasshopper. If he is of choleric temper, expect contradiction and the opposite of what you request of him." I've told you of the total contradiction I consistently got at the contract-shattering meeting. I am beginning to understand my employer. So I threw that out there and waited for my opening like a tiger in the bulrushes. Finally, "Okay, there has been a change. Sunday at blah and then Sunday at blah you will have the two classes." They gave me two classes on the day I requested off. Fuk Yu! But little do they know, I totally blocked their offense. FUCK THEM!

This is what I've sunk to, folks! Constant fighting with the boss. But with any luck, this will remain the schedule for the remaining two months or so of teaching. And I'll still have my weekend. The ONE promise that vulnerably remains unbroken by these scammers.

Did I say, "With any luck?" Hah! And people call me a pessimist. I'm sure they'll still try to mess with me as much as they can. And I may end up quitting. I may end up losing my visa. I may end up having to leave China in a hurry and look for work somewhere else, with almost no notice. And I may have to leave some of my stuff behind, leave some of my pay behind, it could get really, really bad. But I can always find another job and get more stuff. Attachment leads to jealousy. The path to the dark side that is. Isn't that what Yoda said? HE could kick some azz too!

My two masters and guides in the art of Chinese Fuk Yu.

Ah, here it is... What better words to end this post by?

Thursday, September 21, 2017


A rough week! But it's my weekend. Last night I watched the very first NHL game played in China. It was a bit of a stinker. Not just because the Kings beat my Canucks 4-2 but because there were about 15 really chincy penalty calls. I guess they wanted to showcase the offensive side of the game to the Chinese. So there was power play after power play. Oh well, at least it shows us, ("us" meaning me and the Canucks), that our power play needs some work. I have to thank the people at On Hockey dot com for giving me the very first uninterrupted stream of ANYthing I've had since moving into this apartment. The picture was highly pixelated at times, but never cut out. Most of the time it was high def. I didn't have to pull the router plug, wait 10 seconds and plug it back in, reset my wifi or my VPN, refresh my screen, nothing. Everything went untouched for the entire duration of the hockey game! That was nice. The best part of my week.

During the early part of the week I was still fighting with Huasheng to pay me the housing allowance that they'd missed for July and owe me for my Sept. 15 pay for August. Overall I was owed 5000 RMB. Huasheng had paid me 2000 for July and they wanted to pay me 2000 for August. I brought up the housing allowance that I was supposed to have been paid EVERY month of my contract and had never been paid. I didn't ask for every month, just the months when I wasn't working. At the "Ow My Ass" meeting they promised to look into it. Three days after payday I was contacted via WeChat by the new HR girl. I dunno why I type "new," EVERYone is new at Huasheng. She says there is some misunderstanding. I was on my way to the right classroom for a class I had been sent to the WRONG classroom to teach so I didn't have time to get into any lengthy discussion. I said they owe me 5000 this month; 1500 housing allowance still owing from July and 3500 downtime pay and housing allowance for August. Nothing to discuss. She texts back to me, "No, they don't. They owe you only 2000 plus 1500 housing allowance for August. Pay when you're not working is special." I text back, "That is exactly what I just told you." She says, "Oh, I understand. I will make a report and give it to my boss." Which is who I had told at the meeting about this. So this was all just a ploy to waste time and surely enough, Sept. 20, five days late, I received 2000.

I relayed the story to the girl who alerted me to this housing allowance and assured me that it was the same in English and Chinese and they definitely DO owe me this, and she said, "Well at least you got your full downtime pay."

Then I was chatting on facebook about how I have an offer that is about a gozillion times better than the one I have here. I have two friends who have worked at this university and liked it. I think they've both worked there for over 3 years. The pay is 4500 a WEEK. The uni I teach at here is 7000 a MONTH. No kids, better hours, lots of really good bonuses, no 3-hour drives to and from classes, probably a kitchen sink in my apartment, and many other huge advantages over my current situation. But because of the insane rule recently instituted in China, (a country where business owners treat employees no better than the crud they scrape off the soles of their 500-dollar loafers), in order to transfer my work visa, I have to get a letter of recommendation from the people who are trying to force me to stay here so they can rip me off some more. Look, the girls who work with me as facilitators and translators all quit. We're on #8 now and I haven't been here a year. Why? Huasheng doesn't pay them! They keep them working for as long as it takes them to realize they're not going to be paid. Same with the drivers. I've known 4 of them. That might be hyperbole. They may receive a little, but, like me, it's not what they've earned. I'm worried they're not going to pay me everything I earn in September if ANY of it. So I looked at an offer from Victoria University in Shenyang. A colder, probably more fun place than Taiyuan. Everything is better about the offer and Donna, who is in charge of hiring, said with my education and experience, I am a good candidate. But she needed assurance that I can get three things, a copy of my degree stamped by a notary, (have one), a criminal record check, (I can get one in two weeks), and a letter of recommendation from my current employer.

Well I had to explain that my current employer broke the contract, tricked me into signing a full time contract with a secondary employer by promising many things that two weeks later they took away. So they offered me a contract nothing like the agreement they had promised. I refused it and quit. They threatened to revoke my work visa so fast I wouldn't be able to sleep in my own bed that very night. They also said they'd have me black listed. So I said to Donna that it would be a challenge to get a letter of recommendation from them but I could get one from the university I'm now working for. Would that be enough?

Probably because she thinks there will be difficulties in transferring the work visa, I have not heard back from Donna in three days. So in effect, Huasheng is not just withholding pay, they are keeping me from getting the best job I can get and in effect stealing my happiness and job satisfaction from me.

So I talk to long-time employee at this university and all around sensible person, Margie, and she says that at least if everything falls through with Huasheng I still have TUST. (Taiyuan University of Science and Tech). Yeah, instead of 18000 a month I have 7000 and whatever else Huasheng feels they want to chip in. I have instability, psychotic bosses, kids classes three hours away, all agita all the time. But yeah, great, at least I got that going for me...

Then yesterday I was chatting with a long-time friend and former colleague named Jessica, who still lives in Korea. She was saying she thought about China but she can't handle the air. Even her pets can't handle it. I'm like that too. Between the stress of Huasheng, (which I have no doubt affects my health), my cold, and this air, I've woken up two nights in a row now and coughed until I puked. So I'm telling Jessica about that and about being trapped here with a perfect job just waiting for me but I won't get it because of the cards all being in the hands of the employers of China and she says, "Well at least you're not working in a factory."

Now, I don't want to seem ungrateful, and please don't get me wrong, I appreciate all three of these gals and their attempts at encouragement, but at least I'm not having my liver pecked out all day every day by a crow but can't do anything about it because I'm tied to a rock and getting sunburned and eaten alive by mosquitoes and listening to K-pop music the whole time but I'm immortal so I re-live the same excruciation every day. So, you know, THAT'S a positive too.

This is another example of what I'm constantly bellyaching about. People think THAT stuff is positive and my bellyaching is negative. The "Wellatleast" thinkers believe they're being positive, but I'm sorry, I'd rather be a "Wellatmost" type thinker. For example, well at most I'd be able to apply for that job at Victoria University in Shenyang and if I get it, go and teach there because nobody should be able to trap me in a job through lies and deceit. Or is that negative thinking?

Well at most I think even though I'm in China, the laws of this country should not be so favourable to the employers and nobody should be able to have ANYBODY working for them without pay. Or is that negative thinking?

Well at most I believe people in jail for victimless crimes like marijuana and tax evasion should be immediately released and REAL criminals like the sociopaths in business, banking and politics who think nothing of cheating others, making people work for free, even killing people, should take their places. Sorry to think all negatively like that.

Well at most I KNOW there is more than enough of EVERYTHING on this planet so we could all not only have what we need, but, (within reason), just about everything we want as well, if we only taxed the rich the way we tax the middle class. Working our asses off for survival is slavery. But then I'm harshing your mellow and you need to remove negativity like that from your lives, don't you?

I'm NOT a negative thinker, I just don't believe I should settle for a shit life that I don't deserve. I'm honest, smart and a hard worker. Always have been. I could have GONE to the hockey game in Beijing tomorrow afternoon. But because I have four new classes and little to no guidance in any of them, I have to pull some curricula outta my ESL Pandora's orifice that will keep the students, bosses AND mothers happy. Plus I have a brutal cold, AND tickets are impossible to get.

Twice the schedulers changed the room for my new classes without telling me so I had to solve THOSE problems. Me. A guy who is new here, doesn't know the college yet AND speaks no Chinese. I don't think my one Chinese phrase, "I am a Canadian person." would have helped to find my classrooms. One of those classes I asked for any advice I could get and said, "English level, number of students, textbook, any guidance at all," while asking. I was told I'd get some but never did. I got to the class and they had a textbook. So when I confronted the person who had promised to give me help in that class, he apologized and said he had told the students to tell me about the book.

Well at most I wish my coworkers would do their jobs and when they don't do them the LEAST they should be able to do is not tell me OBVIOUS lies to cover their asses.

I was texted by another co-worker during a class. Actually she called and I refused her call. One, I was teaching, and two, her name didn't come up on the screen, just the number so I didn't know it was her. Then she texted. The day before she had texted me, "When you get spare time I need you to come to my office and sign for your September pay." I was walking from my wrong classroom to my correct classroom when I got the text so I just put, "My pleasure." as a reply. I had no time that day because, remember, Huasheng has more than doubled my work/driving time since they shattered my contract illegally. So on THIS day she texted how she had waited all day for me the day before. Like I'd stood her up for the prom or something. And she said I needed to come to her office and sign. I said that I'd be free after the class I was teaching. She really SHOULD know I was teaching at that time. She has my schedule. I said I finished at 12. She said I needed to go to her office between 9 and 12 or 3 and 5. I told her I couldn't that day because I had to teach. Her response was, "So?" Then next text, "Every day?" And then, "Well we won't be able to pay you then."

I said, "Take it easy, I'm sure we can find a simpler solution to this problem than not paying me." And now IN MY CLASS I am texting like a Banshee, something I forbid my students to do. I say, "I am free tomorrow afternoon and all day Friday. Or you could slip the paper under my door right now." Her office is 2 floors from my apartment in the same building.

Later that day I found out that this same sack-o-hammers is the mystery person who told Huasheng that classes at this school are 45 minutes long. She's worked here for plenty long enough to know better than that.

Well at most I'd LOVE to work with people who are of at least average intelligence and who, at the very very least don't cost me money. But, talking with another person about this incident I got, "Well, it was probably a communication problem. She probably didn't mean to be rude. There must have been some misunderstanding. I'm sure YOU'RE BEING TOO NEGATIVE ABOUT THIS.

Folks, I don't think I am. I think a helluva lot of people around this world are conditioned into being far too quasi-positive. They're not being positive, they just think they are. And because they think they're so positive, they think it behoves them to spread the positivity to the masses. Like a virus. I sometimes feel like when I'm telling the actual truth, one of these poso-bots hears me, makes a big O with his, (or most often her), mouth and screeches like a body snatcher, "OOOOOhhh, negativity! Negativity!"

But, I dunno. Maybe it's just me.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Fascinating Psychology of Assholery

Just look at these two smiling faces. This is something that astounds me, intrigues me, fascinates me almost, but not quite, to the point of a smidgen of respect. How can these assholes do it?
The one ran for government and lost. He's an electrician who has lobbied against the Ontario College of Trades which is, as its name might imply, a college that teaches people and certifies them to work in skilled trades like construction, cement finishing, and, hey, even electrician work. He claimed that there was too much bureaucracy and huge fees. (His company paid the "huge" amount of 100 bucks a year it says in the article) He spent a lot of time slagging the college.

Well now, he's on the board of governors of the Ontario College of Trades. In the above pic he's smiling next to Stephen Harper, a man who was the worst PM Canada ever had, and who hurt average Canadians more than any man ever. A couple of the other antisocial personalities he hangs out with are listed in the article. They are all this kind of person that intrigues me. The way that serial killers intrigue me. Or people who never bathe or cut their fingernails. Or people who drink their own urine or tie heavy weights to their balls. They're all deviants on the same scale but money has made some of them socially acceptable.

I am positive this picture has been taped to many a Canadian dartboard and been viewed with comments to the effect of, "The dynamic dickheads," or "Which one's the giant douche and which one's the turd sandwich?" or you can make up your own. People hate these guys. And for good reason. But do they look like they care? No. In fact it is with endless fascination that I see guys like these, Trump, and businesspeople I have dealt personally with, (see last post), almost TRYING to get people to hate them. Like they are nourished by our hatred.

I have a theory that they believe they are more clever than us, deserve more money and power than us, and the hatred comes from jealousy. Or at least they have built that false idea up in a well constructed mental defense mechanism inside their heads. In truth it is what I call "don'tgiveashit" that allows them to be completely unprincipled and consider it a savvy business skill.

It doesn't take wit, brains or cleverness to lie, cheat and steal. It takes "don'tgiveashit." I can attract a person to a job with a contract full of big promises, then break the contract and cut the earnings and benefits to a fraction of what was promised, but I would never do that because I care what people think of me and I have a conscience. I KNOW it IS personal when you do crap like that and it is NOT just business. People like the above get a lot of mileage out of that phrase, but is business really just cheating, lying and stealing? It very well may be, but I give a shit, I see a problem with that. Dickheads like these guys depend on the majority of people either NOT seeing a problem with slimy business practices being the norm, or seeing the problem and doing nothing about it.

A fascinating moment in my "negotiations" the other day was when my boss fabricated a 45-minute class at the university where I'm teaching now. Along with a mystery informer who told her of these non-existent 45-minute classes. When the two of them just kept repeating this lie despite an official schedule right in front of them disproving their statement, along with school bells and the word of a 21-year veteran that there have never been 45-minute classes, they kept saying it like they believed they had the power to speak it into existence. Then when I finally relented and said, "Whatever, it doesn't matter. 5 minutes is no big deal," there was a palpable relief. Almost like the relief one feels after a nice meal. Like they believed they had finally shown themselves to be smarter than me by tricking me, and they needed that sustenance to maintain their business egos. Also, it wasn't just that they had done something good for themselves, it felt as though they believed they had done something good for ME!

To this point in the proceedings I had called them out on every attempt at deception and they were getting demoralized. The maximum 20 hours of work was never accompanied by 20 office hours a week. It wasn't in the contract and knowing that some schools expect office hours, I had asked about it in my interview and had been told that no office hours were required. The boss, during all the bad news, smiled at me and said to me, like she thought I was a 3-year-old, "But there is good news for you! You don't have to do any of the 20 office hours in your contract." I said, "Well that's handy cuz I don't have an office any more." This was met with, "WHY DON'T YOU, WHY CAN'T YOU.... YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND OUR POSITION!"

When I started, Huasheng had a contract with #5 high school. That's where I was hired to teach and that's where the majority of my teaching took place. But I had small classes and some of my students from them told me stories about how their parents and the parents of other students feel about Huasheng and it was roughly the way I now feel about them. A bunch of crooks. So there wasn't much chance of getting enough work from #5 school. In fact, they LOST the contract. That's why every last one of the other teachers there quit and that's why they are locking us out of classrooms. And that's why I no longer have my office at #5 school. They still, however, proudly display the pamphlet at the Huasheng offices, that announces their affiliation with #5 because, like with me and my good reputation, they are hoping to improve THEIR low prestige through association rather than, you know, actually doing a good job.

Besides, with the way they removed breaks and added hours and hours of travel time, I'll be working or travelling to or from work, well OVER 40 hours a week. So it was a deke that I easily read. So were not being paid for breaks or travel time. It's a catch 22. The con-man mentality, which I've explained before, is the dominant business mentality in China. It was explained to me by a Chinese person. The same letters appear in the word "cheat" as in the word "teach." They believe that when they cheat you, they are doing you a favour and making you wiser so you won't get cheated again. But then there's this anger they feel when you catch them trying to cheat you. It's almost like they are angry that you are not letting them teach you a lesson. Like an unruly student. "Shut up and let me cheat, I mean teach you!"

I'll give you another example from my daily life here. I recently bought some cookware. It was on sale but it wasn't especially cheap. This is because it has the special bottoms that are usable with my hotplates. All other pots and pans, (like the ones I owned), don't work. It's like Apple making only their, more expensive programs, usable on their devices. Everything else is incompatible. It's a dick move. But there's more. The cooking surfaces, (the opposite of the bottoms), are also a problem. They are a shiny black material that is extraordinary! I've never known any material to which food more readily and firmly sticks. So you have to wonder at the mind that invented this surface. Did that person think it should be used as an adhesive? No. That person went out of his/her way to bring this hell into people's lives. "I'll show the world! I'll use it for cookware! Mwuhahahaha!

I stand over the pot with pasta in it constantly stirring and STILL there will be some stuck. Washing is more like sanding down the pasta deposits on the bottom of the pot. Everything! I cook noodles and there are little seaweed leaves SUPERGLUED to the sides of the pot. Again I can't wash them off, I need to sand them off.

There has got to be a cheaper to manufacture surface that could have been used. It's like they WANT to cause others pain, inconvenience and harm. I tell you there is pure evil in this world of ours.

The mystery is, how do they become like this? What causes them to lose their "giveashit?" Weren't they hugged enough? Is it something they were born with? I've spent my whole life trying to be good and honest not just so others will like me, but partly because of that. I can't imagine enjoying bringing sadness or pain or harm to others. Is it cultural?

The Italian word "mafia" means swagger or bravado. The kind of egotistical overconfidence that it takes to say, "Hey, maybe you don't want me to, but I am going to take care of you. You don't know it, but you can't take care of yourself. You're not smart enough or powerful enough. You need someone as awesome as me to protect you, to govern you. What if, (God forbid, genuflection), SOMEone should throw a rock through your window or all the windows on this street, or, Madonne a mi, fly a plane into a skyscraper or two, then what could you do? I can protect you. Now, it's gonna require a little payment on your part for the privilege of my protection, which you don't want. And if you don't pay this protection "TAX" we'll call it, then we're gonna have to hurt you a little bit. And your family. And your pets. And..."

My theory on this, and it's all psychology so purely speculative, is that mafia, captains of industry and government are largely made up of these egomaniacs who put SO much energy, time and thought into their love affairs with themselves that none is left to care about anyone else. This is why antisocial personalities, people with personalities overflowing with don'tgiveashit, are the absolute perfect world leaders, C.E.O.'s and mafia bosses. And this is why they all think nothing of making decisions that kill people no matter how directly or indirectly. Witness Trump in one of my earlier posts saying in an interview, as though he was okaying a new traffic light, "I don't like killing people but sometimes it's got to be done."

That's Europe and North America infected with this mental illness. Let's now fly to Asia. I once heard a comedian, it might have been Russell Peters,

 saying how when you bargain with some people the price might be 100 bucks and you could offer maybe 70 or something. Anything less and they'll just laugh and ignore you. But with the Chinese you could offer 10 bucks and they will start bargaining. They won't let you go either. They'll bargain for 20 minutes to get your offer up to 10.50 from the original price of 100. I'm wondering if my contract that went from Huasheng paying me 15000 RMB per month to 2000 a month was an example of the opposite of this. But I hate worse than death doing "business!" I HATE negotiations or any talking at all about money with my boss! And I NEVER bargain when I shop. I prefer to shop where the price is the price. No haggling.

My friend Heather thinks I should open my own English hagwon in Korea. I said to her that just these last few days of nonsense has taken a year off my life. I can't imagine what working every day with Korean mothers of my school's students would do to me! I just don't have the "don'tgiveashit!"

I was not interested in another second of haggling with Huasheng so I quit. Take it or leave it. I quit, was my offer. And I won. For now. But if they find someone who will work for 14000 a month, I might be out of a job. Or if they go out of business. It's another month till I get paid. If I actually DO get paid from them again. This will be interesting.

I wonder what this sort of personality does with bankruptcy. I guess Trump has a good model. He just sues the people he owes money to. So maybe in the next few months I'll be getting paid the 15000 a month I signed for, or maybe they'll sue me for something. Hey, it's nothing personal, it's just business.

BAH! It's just mental illness is what it just IS! Leastaways, that's what I reckon.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ow My Ass!

Might as well start this one now with the memory of getting the wrong end of the pineapple still freshly chafing my sphincter. It was a matter of time. If you've kept up with the blogging, you know I've been treated pretty shabbily here by my employer Huasheng of Taiyuan. And as I saw the wheels coming off all around me, I chose to remain with them despite EVERY other employee quitting. I was warned by well-meaning co-workers, but I thought I'd try to soldier on because I JUST DON'T WANT TO CHANGE JOBS AGAIN! Why oh why dear LORD can't I find a job that's even half way decent in the ESL racket??!!

Just a brief recap: I started here in 2016 after abandoning the Renmin nonsense. I had a visit with friends in Jan. of 2017 in Korea and came back to move from Beijing to Taiyuan into my mosquito breeding apartment. I'd share a tour of it here but I still don't know how to make the movie file small enough to be shared on Blogger. Anyhoo, it was big, nice, cheap and a thousand times better than my hostel room in Beijing. So I was happy. I was interviewed by Josh and Faith and they told me good things about Huasheng. The best thing was that they don't mess with you. You have complete classroom autonomy. Something very important to a guy like me who employs far too modern, (and effective), teaching techniques for the "traditional" education system of China. They don't have an alphabet so they have to memorize characters. They get used to memorization and that's the way they end up learning Errrr verythang! But it's not good for natural English acquisition.

I GOT free reign in the classroom for the first half of my contract with Huasheng. I had small classes too. The only class I was micromanaged in was a class of three kids that was an add-on to my schedule. We used a book that suited their teacher's style, not mine. Their teacher was a Chinese gal named Zoe. She was nice. Joshua's wife. But she taught the traditional, Chinese way. Well, the two boys responded WELL to my teaching methodology, which was a departure from the boring book, but the girl was quiet. In the end the boys quit because they couldn't afford the class and the girl stayed. But her father came to class one day and asked me about her. I told him to ask her if she really wanted to study English, (knowing that she SUPER didn't!). He did, and that week was her last. This will come up later. Remind me if it doesn't.

So, yesterday I was told I needed to teach a class that I'd taught once before. Well, "taught." I was told by one person I needed to teach 5 12-year-olds writing and reading. I got to the class and asked Diana, the owner of Huasheng, what she wanted me to do and she said, "They want to learn listening and speaking." Then the students started arriving. Then 3 parents for every student arrived. All female, of course. The dreaded mothers. And maybe a few Aunts? I dunno. Then Diana and her team started arranging the classroom into a giant circle. The students and the parents were sitting there and Diana kept glancing at me expectantly. I was told I just had to teach a lesson. I chose a lesson from an online site I like about a Chinese guy who lost an expensive engagement ring in a restaurant and it was handed in by an honest patron so he bought 500 people free noodles. Shan Xi province is notorious for noodles so I thought this would be a good lesson. It had grammar exercises, speaking, listening, reading and writing exercises. The kids all said they liked it and they used the vocab and grammar points well in their lesson.

But this was not just an evening where I was supposed to teach a lesson even though that's all that I had been told. No, I was to sell a product on the night. Diana gathered everyone and made a massive speech like the commencement of the Olympic Games or something and then turned to me. I shrugged and said, "Diana, I have no idea what you said or what you want me to do here." Brilliant! Now the parents think both the owner and the teacher are morons! She then talked a LOT more in Chinese and then most of the mothers left and I was told to teach the lesson. I had to advanced kids, two intermediate kids and one very beginner boy. That took me 2 minutes to ascertain. So I set my level appropriately and taught the lesson. I had positive reactions and participation from all but the one glaring mother who remained behind. I don't know her story.

Last night I had the low student, (who I worked one on one with on the pair work cuz no partner was his level), one of the intermediates and a new boy. Three of the students, including the high level students, who obviously enjoyed my lesson the most, were missing. I was told the week before that their textbook, "Go For It" was finished by all of them. I looked through it and the topics seemed okay but it was a bit grammar and vocab heavy. I decided not to use it since they'd completed it. DUH! Well, this week the students had NOT completed it. That's the new story. In fact, some of the parents... oh shit, if you are an ESL teacher you know where this is going and it's a nightmare, suggested that I teach the book. I didn't think this was a terrible idea even though it wasn't the best. The topics were commonly used in good ESL environments. So we started on the book, which was NOT what I had planned. I noticed the answers were coming too easily and sure enough, two of the three students had the book and the answers were filled in. The new guy had forgotten his book, but had also studied the same stuff. I was then told that some mother or other had suggested that I RE-teach the book the students all used in their other English class. Taught by a Chinese person. Sometimes good, sometimes not. I dunno in this case. Not the re-teaching! NEVER good! Abysmally ignorant educational philosophy! Moronity! But their teacher, I have no idear. What was stupid was this whole Mother-suggested, micromanaged class. Then the height of stupidity: in the car on the way home, Sara, who had stood in the classroom the whole ill-fated lesson says to me, "The students say your lesson was too easy." Do you think it might be because I was teaching them something they had done in the classroom the day before? But this is how a poorly managed ESL school works. The owner desperately tries to use the stupid suggestions from parents, the students complain because the suggestions were stupid, then the parents complain to the school or just pull their kid out, then the teacher gets blamed. That's another new wrinkle to my contract: I will make 130 an hour and if the dynamic dipshits Diana and Liu find more students even though NObody wants to study at their "school," I get more. But, if a student is lost, my salary goes down.

With the translator, Sara there, and Diana sitting on a bed, and at the halfway break saying, "Not 10 minutes, 5 minutes!", I managed to get through the lesson. Why was Diana on the bed? Well it's a really good example of why Huasheng has an absolute shyte reputation in this town and why it only attracts bad parents and bad students. We got to the school, (the number 5 school where I had worked for the first part of my contract), and the building was locked. We got the key to the building and the CLASSROOM was locked. This has always puzzled me about #5 school, which is a very reputable school, and Huasheng, which is shyte. I had been locked out of the school several times before. Is Huasheng paying for classroom usage or just using empty rooms and paying nothing? Why would they be locked out so often? And why would #5 school tell them they can't use their school any more? (which is a fact even though, they ARE still using it)

I think they are just high jacking empty rooms for free. A brilliant money-saving technique by Huasheng! Many more to follow. So we got the security guard to open the school. Then, sure enough, the CLASSROOM had a NEW padlock on it. So we had to resort to a dorm room for a student that was empty. It had one desk and just enough chairs. So Diana had to sit on the bed. Which she did, scowling the whole time.

I had heard from students that I taught, and there weren't many of them, at #5 school that Huasheng and Diana were rip off artists. They had cheated the students and their families. They had lied about how they needed a lot of money to put into the education of the kids, but how it all went to pay for Diana's boy being educated in the U.S. Chinese gossip like anyone else in the world.

I had watched as several people, including Faith, the best English/Chinese foreign teacher co-ordinator EVER, just quit because of the crappy treatment at Huasheng. I kept on. As I say, I don't know why. I was told by others to jump ship and I was sure they were right. I'd heard horror stories aplenty of what Mr. Liu and Diana did to screw other workers but I just thought that maybe, somehow it would be different for me. Even though the first half of my contract included 4 visa runs paid for by me, (even though no other schools make foreign teacher pay for visa runs), a two month delay before your first paycheck they don't mention in the contract, and landlords in the area expecting an entire year of rent paid up front. I, with the help of the erstwhile Faith, was able to pay only 3 months, but after a move and all the other expenses, I was broke.

But I made it. I got through that tough part. Then there were two or three months when Huasheng had the tough part of paying me 15000 RMB. During that time EVERYBODY but me quit. Then, two months of not working. And not getting paid. Much. I got 2000 for July even though I taught a bit and my contract stipulates I should have received 3500 for it. I mentioned this to Diana on the night I'm writing about and she faked ignorance as well as she could after trying desperately to tell me that the August pay won't be until Sept. 15. I'm talking about July pay. August 15th I got 2000 and should have received 3500. It took about 20 minutes for her to stop acting like she didn't understand and say, (and we'll see if she actually does this or not), that she will look into this. I'll probably have to bring this up again when August pay is only 2000. That's how they roll here. No surprise. This absolutely elementary denial of fact, straight contradiction and getting angry when you are the one who deserves the anger are all considered brilliant business tactics here in China if Huasheng is any indication of the country's business.

But the nickel and diming I expected. What wasn't expected was a complete change of contract and a rigid sigmoidoscoposcapy for doing nothing but being a good, faithful employee. I didn't work (much), for two months even though I had offers because I wanted to honour my contract. I've remained faithful. I haven't broken the contract, though I could have. What do I get for that? The rodgering of the century. Here's how it went down:

I arrive at the appointed appointment time and see Mr. Liu go into another room of the Huasheng office to do an interview. Everybody who has ever worked at Huasheng has a shelf life of about 2 months or less. The interview went on for over an hour. I commented to Sara that it was a long interview for a short job. I don't know if she got that or not. I also saw Ms. Diana go into another room. The classic power tactic: let the other guy wait for you to establish some sort of fake authority. Fucking amateurs! I KNOW this was in response to my refusing to teach a bullshit sample class of 9 year olds to see if they liked the performance of the dancing bear enough to sign up for a class. I said that, due to our ongoing negotiations, I cannot teach this class because I am not under contract to you any more. Well this obviously pissed them off. I have to admit it felt good to get a little dig in, but I was to be vastly outdug.

The interview finished and I engaged in smalltalk with Liu for 20 seconds. How was the U.S. where you made SHIT TONS of money on kids camps that only the rich coal barons of Taiyuan could afford to send their children to? I didn't quite say that. He said it was good. I told him my summer was boring as shit waiting for work and getting daily transfusions by mosquitoes. Then he says, "There must have been some big misunderstanding. I was busy all day and didn't get your message till right now." I sent the message at 9 in the morning. It was about 6. Really? REALLY? you're THAT busy? First lie of MANY on the night.

He says you really misunderstand our position here. You are still under the same contract. You are not without a contract. So there was no reason to cancel the class tonight. The girls had a hard time telling the parents the class was cancelled. I didn't say, but that was HIS fault for, as he always does, ignoring my text message. Then he says, "What gave you the idea you are not under the same contract?" I said that the night before Diana had outlined a deal in which my contract totally changed and I was not going to make 15000 a month any more but 7 thou from the university, (TYUST), and only the max of 3000 from Huasheng. For the next 4 months that is actually 3000, 3000, 2000, and 2000. So 10 thou instead of the 60 thou we have a contract for. At first he tried to say it was just bad translation by Sara, but I told him, no, Diana wrote the figures down herself. Well he went ballistic. "How can you come in here and accuse, blahda blahda fake angera... I started foaming at the mouth and getting ready to punch his nose through the back of his head. I couldn't talk because of anger induced cotton mouth so I excused myself and got some water. I got back and we started again. I said to him, "Look, we are grown boys here, no need to play games or engage in office politics. I know I am here to negotiate and I'm not going to get extra. I'm going to lose money. I'm just here to find out how much I'm going to lose." He smiled at this.

Then we went into the "board room." Sufficiently late I guess they thought to repay me for cancelling the class cuz I just don't like to teach illegally while I'm not under contract. So Liu starts out with, "You are still under contract with Huasheng. You are still our employee and still will make the same salary." I said, "That's great! Okay meeting adjourned, let's go!" Everyone chuckled nervously then he said, "But, you said you are here to lose money. So let's continue..."

For what seemed like 3 hours, and might have been, Diana read a rough draft of my new contract rider, which was to be added to the TYUST contract even though it stated itself to be the contract with priority. Cart before the horse. I brought up this saying three times during the proceedings. I tried to get down to brass tacks to make the night shorter cuz I knew nobody in the room was being paid for this and I said, "Okay, with the rate you have told me Huasheng will pay, (8000 a month plus the TYUST 7000 to equal the contractual 15000 that they STILL lied to me and maintained I would be getting), and the hours available to you given the TYUST 16 hours a week, it works out to 500 RMB per hour, which is outrageous. I understand you're struggling, so I'm willing to try to make a compromise on the salary."

I was told to forget about that an listen to Diana. She went on and on for an hour mostly about small details in the contract that were obvious. Like, I now live in the free accommodation on campus at TYUST so Huasheng won't pay for my housing allowance any more. But before long it got into the guts of their ploy. "The year end bonus of at least 5000 RMB will be paid in Feb. You will be on leave so you will only receive 2000 RMB. That makes 7000. RIGHT but only if you pay me the fucking MINIMUM bonus! That went unnoticed, of course because nobody gets anything but. "Well, according to your contract with TYUST, you will be paid 7000 for that month, so we won't give you your bonus for finishing the one year contract with Huasheng."

Of course I told him that the 7000 from TYUST will be vacation pay. The 7000, or really what I had told Liu before should be MORE than 5000 given all the visa runs I'd done at my own expense and he said we'd negotiate when that time comes, would not be paid at all because I'd already be getting 7000 from the university. Apples and bowling balls, I told him. Again he got pissed off because another obvious cheat had been detected. So I plead for a while but he wasn't giving up so I wrote it on my paper.

Next I think it was the plane fare. The contract stipulated 12000 RMB for plane fare to be paid at the end of the contract. Well, the TYUST contract stipulates 14000 RMB so we won't pay you and we'll let you receive even more from TYUST at the end of your contract with them. I said, "Well that's going to be postponed for like 9 months because I signed my contract with them not even a month ago and I should get that from you in a few months." The response was direct contradiction. No, you won't  have your plane fare postponed. Why do you keep complaining? Why can't you understand our situation?"

Ummmm, YES, that plane fare will be postponed for a long time. What if I want to go home before then? They don't give a rip.

Then came another lie. Somebody, (they made up), had told them that TYUST classes are actually 45 minutes long. No, I have been told they are 50 minutes long; the schedule we BOTH have shows they are 50 minutes long; Margie, who has worked here since '96, says they are 50 minutes long; ALL ESL classes are 50 minutes long; "well no, somebody told us they're 45 minutes long."

I was trying to be affable, still not knowing THIS scam, and said, "Great, if that's the case, I teach a bit less. But it's not that big a deal 5 minutes." Well Diana knew a way to make it a big deal. She said, "So that means your 16 hour week is actually only 10.5 hours. This way you can work 9.5 hours for Huasheng." So I say, "Oh I get it, you're not paying me for breaks, bonuses or driving time." Let me point out, Liu, that you told me Huasheng is not saving money on this contract adjustment. I have a whole list of ways you are saving Huasheng money at MY expense. Again the feeble, "Well, you just don't understand our evil culture of greed. And angrily and with hostility shouting me down. That's awesome. AGAIN the faked anger at my inconsolable RIGHTNESS.

So they managed to extend my hours to almost 30 and with the driving time it'll be 40. I told them yesterday 40 hours is too much for a teacher. But driving time is considered unpayable time, just as sitting in a room translating and working very hard is considered unpayable time for Sara at Huasheng. And waiting for this endless meeting and driving me home is considered not payable time for the driver.

There is an 18 month MASSIVE bonus that was not mentioned in the whole proceedings. It's pretty obvious that this fish fence of a business with employees popping in and out every few days NEVER has anyone reach the 18 month mark so they never have to worry about this clause. But it's  a bonus I'll never see. I don't intend to work any longer than my contract for these losers, if that. I'll look at their contract, they promised it Friday, and I'll work, against my will, illegally AGAIN for them until that time. I'll probably see all kinds of bullshit and frankly, I think they want me to quit to save them the price of firing me. At least 5 times during his fake anger tirades Mr. Liu said, "We could always just end the contract now." and when I commented on how hostile he was, (which of course he countered with direct contradiction), I mentioned these comments. His response was that Diana had said this TEN times. So if you think Liu is the only villain here...

Back to Faith. She told me of a massive screw job she got from Huasheng and in particular Liu. She called him a "bastard" which was cute cuz she never swears. He IS a bastard, but Diana is also complicit in these shady dealings. The hardest part of the whole thing is they maintained the fantasy that I didn't see right through their obvious deception and tried to intimate to me how they wanted to maintain a long term relationship of trust and good will with me. When in fact, they want to maintain a long term relationship of conniving and cheating with me. Yet another employer who has mistaken my kindness for weakness. How could I have EVER NOT expected that in China? I guess I just have a habit of hoping for people to rise above their stereotypes. But am more often than not disappointed.

Okay, so at the end, I say to them that I have seen 1000 places go into receivership if I've seen one, when the owners surrender control to the parents. You have to trust your teacher. I have 20 years of experience, 6 recognized teaching certs, I've written two ESL books, I've had those books used with great success by other teachers, I've created hundreds of my own lessons and games which have also been used with success by anyone who has tried them, I've hobnobbed and workshopped with people in the industry, I've read and studied educational materials, I've taught at some of the best ESL schools anywhere, WHY would you not trust me? Why did you hire me?

This is what I ended with saying that letting parents decide my curriculum or sit in on classes or do anything but drop their kids off and fuck off was disrespectful to me. Back to my last year in Korea, where I lost all classroom autonomy and my two psychotic bosses started telling me to do everything wrong. Here we go again. Everything they're doing and asking me to participate in is the dying breath of a failing "school." Having the sample classes where I dance like a trained bear to amuse student is an obvious ploy of a failing school. Letting parents take charge - and invitation for disaster. Parents in the classroom? Ludicrous! But they're doing it all here and asking me to come along for the ride into the dusty depths of hagwon failure. I asked if they though Harvard ever accepted advice from students' parents or agreed to their professors teaching free sample classes. But they're too stupid to listen. This place will be out of business in a year unless Diana is ridiculously rich. And if she is, SHE OWES ME A TON OF MONEY!

I have agreed to teach ILLEGALLY AGAIN for three days for them. Tomorrow's class? I go to that abandoned school in the sticks of Taiyuan and teach 50 students. No idea of their level or what our goal will be. Liu said to get to know them then suggest something. For 50 people. Easy peasy, we'll read the dictionary and memorize definitions. After that "English Corner." I'm supposed to know what this means. I assume it's a less studious, less "traditional" fun English exercise. So I say, "So these are both for an hour? Well actually Diana says, 45 minutes. Maybe THAT'S where she got the mysterious 45 minutes from. In both classes students will be deciding on whether they want me as their teacher or not. Teachers, probably parents, Sara and Diana will also be there. Fun eh? Friday they tell me they will show me the contract in written form. It should have been done 2 weeks ago but when I said that Mr. Asshole, I mean Liu, just got fake angry and overvolumed.

I am almost sure I will read it and find it totally unacceptable. After that I may ask them to just let me transfer my visa to the uni I'm working at now or I may find YET ANOTHER job in this fickle field. Only time will tell.

So was that a scary tale, boys and girls? It is! Don't go to China to work! It can be a horror story!

Wait, there's just a bit more! I told you to remind me about the story of the girl who quit. There has been ONE student who has quit so far since I have been working at Huasheng. It was no coincidence that she was brought up as a last resort of a feeble mind at tonight's kangaroo court. At the very end Liu says, "Do you remember..." It was a girl who hated studying English. In that class that I hated teaching. The boring class with Zoe's curriculum. Her father came in one day and asked me what the future held for his daughter. I didn't lie to him, I just said, "Ask her." She had been quiet, as I said before, but also constantly tired and bored and given to minimalistic answers when prompted. It wasn't hard to tell that her father was wasting his money with this one. I did the right thing. Tonight Huasheng told me she was signed up for another two months of classes. To make me feel like there was something I had done to cost them money, perhaps to justify the theft of so much money from me.

I don't know, but it was pretty weak.

So, I think my choice boils down to teaching my 14-18 hour a week sched. at TYUST and working an extra 25-30 hours a week for the losers at Huasheng and getting paid about12000 RMB in total, OR working for TYUST, getting their 7000 a month and doing part time classes with mostly adults, mostly one on one and all at a better rate with no crap attached. 10 hours a week with THEM will net me 13000 RMB in total. And since they eliminated ALL of the bonuses I've been awaiting at Huasheng, I don't see much of a decision here.

Faith told me it might be possible to ask the uni for a raise since they ARE paying the lowest wage in China and they have two excellent teachers, if I do say so myself. I'll just wait and see.

A third option would be to just find another job. Three in a year! Yeehaw, my goal of stability sure isn't getting any closer!

Addendum: I was on my 4th beer when I started this. A little harsh, but not completely off the mark. Well, today I quit my job. (the day after this incident) I said that offer is unacceptable and I can't imagine you, with all the financial difficulties you are going through now, will be able to offer me what I need. I was just on my way up to the office of the foreign language department to ask if they could transfer my work visa to the uni and I got a message from Mr. Liu saying they will pay me 8000. That equals out to the 15000 a month of our original contract. It's what they promised me more than once. So now I have UNquit my job. But given this whole experience, I think I'll work to the end of December and then that'll be it. If the company survives that long.

Addendum II: I am also back to the drawing board looking for new jobs because I don't know yet whether they REALLY want me for the remainder of my contract or whether they're not just telling me they'll pay me what they promised in order to give them time to hire someone else, then turf me. For all I know, (I don't get paid for September until October 15th), come payday, they could just say the same crap about falling on tough times and not pay me at all or pay me the 2000 they want to pay me. NOTHING would surprise me here any more.

Addendum III: This is starting to look like my contract! It's now four days past payday and I haven't even been paid the 5000 for my work in July and August. What hope do I have of actually getting paid the full amount I'm owed on October 15th? I'd say very little. That being the case, every hour I work for these crooks, (which also includes 2 -3 hours of driving time), is an hour of free work. I applied to a couple places today. Got a response from one. Should be able to set up a Skype interview for tomorrow. This is looking more and more like I'll quit before September is out. The worst part about it is the Canucks are playing LA in Beijing on the 23rd and I just don't think it's wise to go. Tickets were a nightmare to get anyway. Even for Chinese friends. But then there seems to be an added challenge to almost everything I do here. Because... China!