Thursday, March 24, 2011


The first confirmed American death in the earthquake in Japan was an American English teacher working for the JET Program.

She is described in the article as "passionately dedicated to her students and fascinated by Japanese culture since childhood."

Strangely, I don't think I know a single English teacher who has died in the line of duty. (Maybe that's not the right term, but you know what I mean.)

One English teacher I know was in Phuket during the tsunami there in 2005; he wrote a lengthy blog post about it but I can't find it online anymore, in a quick search. Fortunately he had to wake up early to get an insulin shot, and noticed what was happening, and managed to get himself and his friends up onto the roof.

It was Christmas morning at 6.00am, and I'm absolutely sure that had I been there, I would have been so drunk I would have drowned like a rat.

There's a story in Russia about an early English teacher -- around 2000 -- who died after falling into an open manhole while drunk. I heard different versions of the story -- somebody who claimed to have known him said that he had slid down a hill on ice and fallen into the foundation of a building site, where he got stuck and froze to death.

Given the number of open manholes, neither story is hard to imagine. I partially fell in one myself one night -- only my leg went in, fortunately not at an angle to snap in half. I emerged unscathed from that one.

Man, black eyes and fat lips? I've seen plenty of those, all over the world. Mostly the result of drunken stupidity, but occasionally legitimate street muggings.

I got my lights completely punched out not just once, but twice in a ROW one memorable evening at a crappy nightclub in Russia back in 2008. Strangely not even so much as a lasting headache later -- but two big ugly black eyes for a week.

That was not nearly as painful as the events of my first bar fight, in which my foot was stomped on and swelled up like a pumpkin. I refused to try to take care of it properly, and limped for months.

Then, of course, there was the time the dog bit me, in 2004. At a house party, I let the family dog out, and went out to try to get it back . . . and mistook a street dog for the family dog. This was the result:

This resulted in series of rabies injections, and an unpleasant week of sobriety. The scar has faded, but girls reading my palm occasionally mention it.

There was a particularly scary story about one guy: one of my colleagues found this guy, a teacher from Australia, wandering in a park near his house, covered with blood and delirious. He'd apparently been smashed in the head with something hard enough to crack his skull. He had no memory of it, so nobody knows if it was a mugging or a disagreement.

Scarier than that -- he hadn't signed a contract yet, so the school he worked for refused to pay his medical bills, and his cracked skull prevented him from flying home for medical treatment.

Other than that, we're like the Mafia -- we mostly hurt each other.

One colleague drunkenly tumbled down some stone steps and ended up in the hospital for a week, with a bad concussion. Crazy Bob sprained his wrist one time drunkenly punching me in the back, and ended up with two cracked ribs after some drunken horseplay with another colleague.

Having fun is hard work, you know.


Eve said...

not sure if this counts as "in the line of duty," but there are English teacher suicides (or, to be more precise, there was one here in Korea last month):

- English man in Moscow - said...

You have won Liebster Blog Award


English Teacher X said...

careful that's not some kind of virus. That seems sketchy.

- English man in Moscow - said...

No its no virus just blogger network its comes from a cancer awareness. I trust dont worry.

Anonymous said...

BATMAN says: Those last two comments by ETX and EMiM sound like a conversation I overheard between a girl and X at the very nightclub where the beatings occurred.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly sure that ESL teacher suicide is relatively common.

I think that the deepest depression that I ever had in my life was while in Korea. It was a deep, deep black hole that I couldn't crawl out of, with some extenuating personal circumstances that fueled it.

And then there is the memorable case of Sean Matthews, of "Korea Life" Blog, who jumped to his death in China shortly after leaving Korea. He was particularly noteworthy because he wrote two books (well, a book and a blog compendium) about life in Korea. Therefore, he had a lot of strangers that knew more of him than they do anonymous suicide victims. The blog brings a person to the stat.

They still keep his blog up:

which, if you think about it, is a great memorial.

His books are found here:[author]=Shawn+Matthews&fSearchData[lang_code]=all&fSort=salesRankEver_asc&showingSubPanels=advancedSearchPanel_title_creator

English Teacher X said...

That is a BRILLIANT idea! I'll fake a suicide after I finish my books!

Anonymous said...

I'm curious, do you think his suicide was faked?

English Teacher X said...

hell, I don't know. I always think everything on the Internet is faked since I fell for the "rubberburner" ads back in the late 90's.

Posh said...

There was an Irish guy in Saudi who got bladdered on Sidiqi (97% alcohol sold by hospitals to alkos and usually watered down to 50/50 and mixed with Coke, etc). He went up on the roof to sunbathe, fell into a booze-induced coma and burned to death. They eventually found him two days later and his body was charred to a cinder.

Timothy said...

Just This week, Wednesday to be exact, they hauled a dead teacher out of our apartment building. At the end of a long road of alcoholism. The Chinese are inept at treating this, but you can't stop some drunk hell bent on self destruction, anyway. Been upset for days. Sorry, this is a bit of a downer, I know.

Chris said...

Yeah, to be suspicious of internet news is prudent.

However, I've followed this story since it broke, and its legit. The guy jumped. If you were to dig around and read all of the related web content, you'd probably come to the same conclusion.

His friends even mentioned him, on the web, in memoriam years later.

Its not like he was a huge author who stood to make millions off of an elaborate hoax. He was just self published blogger. I'd be surprised if his books sold 20 copies a year at this point.

Posh said...

Another guy I came across in Kuwait was well on the road to the funny farm and I really wouldn't be surprised if he'd jumped or ended someone else's life by now.

One day he beat the crap out of the company driver then locked himself in his apartment for 3 days. When the police turned up he shouted at them, "I know you are the other teachers in fancy dress! Just leave me alone."

They finally broke the door down but on the way to the police van he made a break for it but they caught up with him after 5 seconds and he served out the rest of his contract chained to a pyscho hospital bed.

What a laugh we have, eh?

Anonymous said...

How poignant... I just got out of hospital myself, mismanaged asthma, pollution and stress, 10 days of not quite third world conditions, but the lady who brought us kasha three times a day was fairly pleasant. Doofus was awful lonesome over it.

English Teacher X said...

Perhaps you inhaled too much of my dear cat's hair. . .

Jens-Olaf said...

@English Teacher X

Before writing about fake, please do some research on the internet. You will find the people who are/were related to him.

RIP Shawn (that was his name)

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the two americans killed in the recent train derailment in china were english teachers.