Monday, March 23, 2020

The Quiestest Apocalypse


Who thought we'd just be able to sit around and watch TV and bullshit on the internet as the world tumbled into ruin?

No souped-up cars, no zombies, no cities in flames. Not yet, anyway.

Just ... waiting.

It's funny actually, Crazy Bob and I went on a desert hike / canyoneering expedition a couple months ago:

Your humble narrator

(That's him in the shadows on the bottom right there.)

 and on the way back we drove through a cloud of locusts:

So that's never a good omen. We have war, pestilence, disease ... let's see what's the last one? Famine? Stay tuned.

Yeah, we're on lockdown here in the Kingdom, like in most countries, but my personal situation isn't too bad. I'm guaranteed salary for at least the next five months, until the middle of august, no matter how bad things get. We're working online from home now, but only a couple hours a day, and then we have our fully-paid summer holiday from May 15 to August 15. All international flights are closed now though, and I imagine I'll be stuck here most or all of the summer.

After that, who knows?

I signed an acceptance letter for a two-year contract, summer 2020 to summer 2022, but not the actual contract yet. I would assume the government college program I work for will continue, but I guess it's possible it won't, depending on how all this plays out.

My personal living conditions aren't too bad, either. I'm on a campus that's a somewhat self-contained but not crowded community, with a wall around it and supermarket a five-minute walk away and a nice park and plenty of places I can walk without any worries. My apartment isn't exactly luxurious, but it has a terrace in the back where I can get fresh air without any infection worries. I made a little zen garden there:

In terms of resources, things are good here -- no hoarding or shortages in the supermarket as of yet. And there's actually a lot of greenery here on campus, including edible cactus, date trees, and various vegetable gardens planted mainly by the cleaning and landscaping staffs:

My wife came to visit for the first time on one of the Kingdom's first tourist visas, but she had to flee back to Russia when they started cancelling flights. We actually got her on one of the last flights out two weeks ago, via Istanbul. (She's still got a job there and a single mom to look after.)

But I'm not alone, actually I've got these two lovely ladies with me. They're great company even though they came off the street. They even lez out occasionally:

But enough about me, how are you?

I'm interested in hearing some first-hand accounts of  how English teachers are weathering this, because in general, I know they are usually not weathering it well.

In China, all my old colleagues are entering their third month of quarantine, but at least they're getting paid. Some of them were on winter break when the quarantines started though, so they're working from home in different places.

People I knew working at hourly language schools usually either just lost their jobs completely or got offered less money to work online, but many of them couldn't even go home -- or flee to Thailand or whatever -- if they wanted to, since all international flights are being cancelled. At the "real" international schools, with students from all over the world, people are often locked down on campus with their students, since they can't go home either.

The people I knew working in military contracting are particularly hard hit. I knew people teaching foreign military in America, and those soldiers all got sent home; I also know a guy working teaching in Afghanistan, and he's getting sent back to America tomorrow, though he'll continue to get a salary for a while. Peace Corps folk are going home, too.

(Washington Post article about the end of the Peace Corps.)

So, any stories you want to tell? This is almost surely not going to be the end of the world, but certainly the end of the world as we knew it -- if international work, tourism, and  travel even exist in the post-pandemic world, it'll be so regulated most people won't even bother. Man, I'm glad I got that Kenyan safari in last summer.

Anyway, I offer this space as a monument to the World As It Was.


Josh said...

Wow, what are the odds I would view your blog for the first time in almost a year only to see a new post from just a few hours ago. Great to hear from you X!

Peter M said...

Glad to hear that you're doing well my friend, please keep the updates coming, I love to read them.

Ty said...

It's great to get another update, X!

I'm not an English teacher, but I'm quarantined here in the suburban US with the wife, kids and in-laws. We've got weeks of canned food and can go out for walks on the nearby nature trails. And so far no one wants to kill each other. All-in-all, could be a lot worse.

Dave said...

TEFL has been dying a slow painful death for the past decade.
* Too many overeducated and underemployed people in the west, which means more competition
* Competition from skype
* Public schools in some countries phasing out foreign teachers
* Low birth rates in target countries, ergo less students
* Increasing nationalism in target countries
* Overall declining demand

This pandemic is probably going to be the last nail in the coffin.

Demian said...

Have just been rereading your travel books the past few weeks X, can't express in words how much i enjoy your wit and writing style, I'm sure I'll be reading them for many years to come. Always glad to hear updates from you and it would be an honour to buy you a beer one day, once the situation calms down.
Best wishes you madman!

Anonymous said...

Even if you still had a job in China, you wouldn't have a job in China ...

Mark said...

Teaching from home is the best thing that ever happened to some of your former colleagues, X -- they can work from home and nobody will smell the alcohol.

Anonymous said...

It's way too early for the doom and gloom. Yes, a lot of people are $%^&#@ right now, but once you have low-cost instantaneous testing, better treatments and a vaccine the situation will improve. In my day we used to call this "science." This was before the anti-vaccine movement, bottled rainwater and oxygen bars.

I have the feeling it might make a comeback.

Always great to hear from you, Mr. X!

Anonymous said...

I am praying that this enforced home confinement and lack of international travel, once brought to an end, will trigger an explosion of hedonism and wanderlust...a demand for things to return to how they were before when it comes to international travel

Anonymous said...

Interesting times, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Quit sure it will all revert to normalish when it's all over. Hope America doesn't implode because let's face it the only reason people want to learn English is because of American power and influence.

Transitioning to a Mandarin teacher may prove difficult!