Friday, August 14, 2015

Among the Ugly Americans

So I accepted this job in America.

I started on Monday. I was supposed to have a week of training, but of course they ended up just tossing me into a class on the second day, as several teachers were out sick and a few others left with no notice. I'll just say it's a job teaching English to foreigners, mainly Middle Easterners, and it pays fairly well by American educational standards. ($50,000 a year.)

It's in a small town in the southwest, not the same town where I grew up (as described in REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND) but with a lot of striking similarities.

It is, perhaps, even more charmless.

I've been living in a Red Roof Inn for the last week. In an area beside the freeway. There are numerous other similar lower-mid-range hotels around me, and a handful of fast-food places.

I'm surprised at how many people are actually living here.

The people living in these hotels are mainly Mexican immigrants, likely undocumented, and people and families who don't have the credit and legal history that would allow them to pass an apartment background check. It's not scary - they frolic in the pool or have quiet parties gathered around their trucks in the parking lot.

The sun bakes relentlessly down on the asphalt, and the pool is full of the pee of fat kids and dead crickets.

Everything is just amazingly ... ugly.

The people, the city, the buildings, even the weather.

Maybe even uglier than my last posting in Saudi Arabia.

But in a fascinating sort of way, actually.

I mean, a good half of the people walking around the streets of small town America would have been considered freak-show circus material back 60 or 70 years ago.

Enormously fat people? Lots of them. Skeleton men? Plenty of meth heads. Bearded ladies? Sure, post and pre-op. Totally tattooed men? Yup. Strong men? Plenty of roided-up doofuses, sure. Lizard people? Yeah, the tanning bed abuse of the 80s is showing on a lot of old faces, that's for sure. Human pincushions? Well plenty of weird facial piercings, anyway.

People seem utterly indifferent not only to fashion, but to any sense of restraint or self-respect. 60 year old women wear short skirts and mesh tops. Old dudes rock their tattoos, mullets, and biker mustaches. Fat men proudly wear shirts proclaiming themselves "The world's largest source of natural gas!" and fat women wear skin-tight belly-shirts and yoga pants. Hipsters see nothing at all stupid in wearing Grizzly Adams / Taliban beards.

But everybody is so cheerful. "Have a nice day!" they say. People in fast food restaurants greet you like a long-lost friend.

But they just say the craziest shit, too, and the cheerfulness easily flips to rage or tears.

(Examples forthcoming in a future post.)

So as mentioned in the last post, I mainly took this post because my father's conditioned has worsened -- he's almost lost the ability to walk. He moved into an assisted care place on Monday, and he actually loves it. (He was tired of his younger wife bitching at him all the time.) This job will allow me to pay for that care and see him once a month or so. (I'm not in the same state where he lives.)

There are some other possibilities here - while my salary after taxes won't be anything special, the company does have some interesting benefits like tuition assistance, so I could pursue a master's degree at the small college here. I invited the Girlfriend to try again to get a visa -- this time a J1 fiance visa. (Although given the amount of anti-American propaganda she's absorbed recently through Russian TV, she has some serious anxiety about it.)

And I do have a few friends living in this state, including the girl from this post.

I'm moving into my apartment tomorrow, and before I came I bought a car, the first time I've owned a car since the one given to me in high school about 30 years ago. (I sold it in 1994, before I went to work in Thailand.)

So, who'd have fucking thought it? After six months of visiting beautiful exotic places like Budapest, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Dubai, and Prague, I'm perversely enjoying a spell in one of the least exotic places you could imagine, doing another shitty TEFL job.

Go figure!


Jug Jugette said...

Just remember what the Big Z wrote:

brian said...

Regression to the mean, X. Anyway, welcome back to the good ole' USA!

Anonymous said...

Helping out an elder parent. Good on you. I'm in the same boat.

On the bright side, Budapest looks so much better after a tour of the real America.........

Jeffrey said...


I'm curious. How did you go about looking for work in the States? Recruiter? Websites? Any specific advice would be appreciated. Yep, I'm overseas right now, but before too long I'll most likely be looking for an ESL teaching gig back in the US.

Deb said...

What are you doing in redneck America?!

You can earn that kind of money anywhere in the world, these rich Arabs will pay you to teach them on Skype.

Your future is in Vodkaberg entertaining us with REAL stories, not tales of pig-rustling in Nowheresville ;)

Also, there are many clone cities of Vodkaberg in Ukraine, life is cheaper here.

Dion McTavish said...

Ah, the good ole South.

f.nvegas said...

Hey X,

Sounds like Tucson; Middle Easterns, Mullet bikers, and meth zombies....we have those here in Vegas! I wrote you a while back about applying here but I don't think you would've gotten 50k!

So your gf might move here, too bad she believes all the stuff about America in Russian news. My gf (from Ukraine) will hopefully move here in next July, with her applying for a visa it takes longer. We are planning to get married in December in Ukraine and then again here....told it makes things easier. Anyway good luck in your new job and if your close by to Vegas look me up. Especially when she moves, my gf would love to find close by friends.

Oh and hope dad feels better, good wishes to him also.

englishteacherx said...

Thank you for the well wishes, everyone.

Deb -- get with the program here and read the last 6 blog entries. No job offers in the Middle East, Amazon gutted its payment program, and ill father in America. In addition to currency devaluations in Russia and China, my qualifications are outdated, and my experience in Ukraine (Kiev and Odessa) was that all girls that will speak with foreigners wants $50 - $100 an hour. Vodkaberg is now a foreigner-hating alcohol free zone, and I'm not feeling so hot myself ...

englishteacherx said...

Jeffrey -- it's through a contractor, drop me an e-mail at and I'll tell you about it.

englishteacherx said...

PPS -- "Teaching Rich arabs on Skype" -- or any other rich person, most likely -- won't work because a rich arab who wants to learn English will just up and move to England or America to study there. The arabs I've taught are all BEING PAID to study, by the government. So it's the government that pays the big salaries, not the arabs themselves.

deb said...

Ah I see, sorry I wasn't paying attention.

Yes Amazon is even making it hard for marketplace sellers like me these days, they are squeezing out the little guy in favour of the big sellers.

I'm just about to start a working day doing Telemarketing here in Ukraine, they pay me about $20-$25 an hour and it's the easiest work imaginable "Hello Sir, we are holding a conference about X on X date, would you like some more info by email", they pay me direct into my bank, I can pay rent here in 2 days.

I also do dropshipping, I have no physical inventory I am just doing arbitrage between various Ebay and Amazon sites.

Best wishes

Deb said...

And yes you are right, Ukrainian women are big sluts. I was talking to my Moscow residing friend last night in Kiev about the differences between Ukrainian and Russian women. Overall he prefers the Russian chicks, I cannot say as I have not been to Russia.

Are you saying that women in Vodkaberg for example are less money orientated than in Ukraine? it would be interesting for me to visit Russia in that case, I am tired with the women here lately, if you are a foreigner they just want to extract as much as possible as quickly as possible then move on to the next host, like a vampire. It's very hard to use your best qualities to attract a woman if they are only interested in dough.

Russia is expensive, despite the big devaluation in the Rub. Ukraine is Russia on the cheap

Deb said...

Follow the adventures of an English Lothario ageing disgracefully in Ukraine