Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Your Boss Thinks About You

So I was going to post a bunch of correspondence I had with the owner of the chain of Language Schools I worked at in Russia.

Basically, however, it would be a lot of reading about visas and hours and insurance and this and that, which out of context is not very interesting; I can say that, inevitably, you had to email the owner at least three times to get him to reply at all, and I had forgotten what a fucking funny guy I am -- towards the end I started signing letters, "Anxiously awaiting your excuse."

The Owner is a mysterious figure even to people who know him; there are all kinds of presumably bullshit stories about how he used to work for the Moscow bureau of the FBI or the CIA or that he'd survived helicopter crashes in Vietnam and son on.

I can say one thing about him; he talks a lot. I once sat in a room with him and he spoke nearly nonstop for a sold hour. I was getting dizzy, I think because he was using up all the oxygen in the room.

But anyway, here's a snippet of correspondence that summarizes his philosophy about his employees:

You can state that there are a lot of unhappy teachers but then I would have to ask what they are unhappy about. Like you, I suppose that much (if not most of it) has to do with the economic situation in Russia. Yet I do not believe that you can point the finger of blame at (REDACTED)or Russia. Though I am not happy with what is happening, it is the same everywhere. To date, since November I have been receiving between 300 and 400 requests for employment per week. I can no longer even respond to them all. I can however tell you that if you are so down on (REDACTED), or Russia than perhaps you should consider leaving either or both. Perhaps there are greener pastures out there.

* * *

I suppose a lot of corporations have this attitude towards their employees -- didn't Wal-Mart get press attention recently when some memos along the same lines were leaked, stating that there was no productivity difference between new employees and old employees, so why should they offer more benefits or salary to keep employees at all?

At my DOS training in Moscow in 2007, I was frankly told, by the second in command there at the time, about many of the things which are discussed as rumor on ESL message boards:

1) Be careful about hiring older people, and divorced or middle-aged women; they're rarely happy with the job and students often don't like them

2) Be careful about hiring experienced teachers who have worked in universities or high schools, because they won't like the hours at a private language school and might walk out

3) The salary is paid twice a month because otherwise teachers would simply drink it and piss it against the wall

4) Don't worry too much about training new employees; people rarely stay long enough to make it worthwhile

I was one of the last (actually I think, the last) guy to get a DELTA paid for by the school in honor of working there more than 2 years; it took him about 3 years to pay for the whole thing, however, and it was recently confirmed to me by my colleague here (who once stayed in the Owner's apartment in Moscow for a few days) that they were trying to wait me out, figuring I'd leave before they had to pay the full amount.

And you know, to be fair, there also verified first-hand stories about this guy paying teachers "out of his own pocket" regarding some conflicts that they had with their branch, and obviously, some teachers cut a very destructive swath indeed, trashing apartments and so on.

But reading the messages again, he is right about one thing:

I would suggest that you take the bull by the horns and make a good decision for yourself. Only you can do that. The only person who can take responsibility for the past eight years is you. You can't give that away nor can you not accept full responsibility for your own decisions. You're not a prisoner and you're free to make good decisions for yourself. If you want to place the blame on someone else and simply let it go at that, then I don't get what the point of being an adult is.

I agree; basically, if you agree to do that shitty job, then you have to deal with whatever happens. Like Deniro said in HEAT -- "Do not have anything in your life that you wouldn't leave behind in 5 seconds flat if the heat comes down."

Anyway, if King Shit of Turd Mountain is reading this: indeed there are FAR FAR FAR GREENER pastures than the McDonald's of English teaching, and I can look back on my nine years with them as paying off in debauchery, if not financially.

Hell, that DELTA that they eventually begrudgingly paid for got me an extra $1000 a month here, I think.

Now I can look back and laugh. In fact, I cackle hysterically. Especially as I look at my bank account now, and see it approaching six figures.

Here's the scene I was talking about from HEAT. Change a few reference here and there -- "prison" to "crappy language school branch" for example -- and this could be a conversation between a DOS and an employee.


TEFL SecretAgent said...

Pacino and De Niro - Both freaking rule.

To be honest, I have my teaching income stream split into four so I don't rely solely on one school, DOS or owner - That way I can easy walk out, threaten to walk out and not really give a shit.

My only responsibility are the hours I teach at university - these hours mean something to me, I dunno, maybe I think it means something to be teaching at uni but as for private languag schools... I know they're out to get me.

Eve said...

SIX FIGURES! What the FUCK am I doing in Korea?!

English Teacher X said...

oh, you're drinking, smoking, walking around in public without a burka, talking to men, etc.

Eve said...

I might be able to do without the "talking to men" part.