Friday, November 14, 2008

Bad timing

On Tuesday (I am behind, aren't I? I seem to have so little time to blog I am just now getting around to Tuesday) I had one of those dreadful experiences at work that you hope will never happen to you. I bumped into one of my bosses in the corridor.

Now, I know you probably think that is not all THAT dreadful, but you have to understand that this is not a particularly nice boss, that I generally see him about once every two years or so, and that I happen to know that he thinks English teachers are a waste of space. He thinks the university would be better off outsourcing our jobs to backpackers, through an outsourcing company. (Which he used to work for. Kickbacks, anybody?) He is the second-in-command of our department. I do not think I have ever met the Big Boss of our department, and from what I have heard, I don't want to.

Anyway, on Tuesday I bumped into this boss in the corridor, in MOST unfortunate circumstances.

It happened like this.

I had given the students homework. From that homework, I selected ten sentences that had common errors in them. I wrote those ten sentences on the board. Then I handed the yellow chalk to the naughtiest student in the class, told him (or her) that he (or she) was in charge, and issued a 'class challenge.' I said that I would leave the classroom for five minutes, and their challenge was to have all the mistakes fixed when I came back.

Then I left the room.

This worked very well in the first class. They used the five minutes well, and most of the mistakes were fixed. I was peeking through the little window in the door at the back of the room (of course), and noticed that they were all very, very serious about it, and quietly concentrating.

In my second class, when I did the same thing, a riot apparently erupted the moment I stepped out of the room. I closed the door, wondering whether I had misjudged the class. But when I peeked in, they had overcome their surprise at their teacher suddenly abandoning them, and were working on the problems. They were VERY argumentative about it, and the temporary 'teacher' was having a grand time ordering them around and telling them to speak one at the time.

I was dithering in the corridor when the door opposite opened and my boss came out. He smiled and said hello. He used my name, which was a bit freaky. How come he remembered my name? He has hardly ever laid eyes on me!

That was the first worrying moment. I realized that I have been teaching right opposite my boss all semester (all year, possibly) and never noticed before.

The five minutes were up, so I opened the door to my classroom. A student immediately rushed up and closed it again in my face. Then he opened it a crack.

"Five more minutes!" he said. "We need five more minutes!"

I shrugged and went back to dithering in the corridor. I looked at my phone, to check the time, and noticed that there was a message. I opened my phone, and started reading the message.

And of course THAT was when the boss came back up the stairs, and saw me again. This time he did not say a word. He ignored me. Pointedly.

That had to be the worst timing EVER.

(The students got all the sentences right, though, and were very proud of themselves.)


Lia said...

Oh, ouch. But it's a great "judge favorably" story; I'll have to remember it.

Megane~kun said...

Well we have got to have those kinds of instances in our lives some time or another. I don't know how many times I had my soul irking away from reality.

Fortunately my boss is a kind man, though I don't understand him very much (he talks in a slur of Japanese).

Ugh, every time I think back about it, my esophagus just closes up...

tamakikat said...

Shit happens. You've just proved you're a good teacher and you have a life. Obviously No. 2 isn't and doesn't. It sounds like he needs a kick out the door himself:)

Megane~kun said...

Just want to point out that what I've done weren't really bad, just "bad timings", just as Badaunt has stated.

An example would be when I was told to set-up my own account on the "company blog", and accidentally clicked a link leading to a Japanese social-networking website. The javascript of the site froze my browser just as my boss came to see if my blog account registered okay.

It was my first day too... *sigh*

Hana said...

I love, love, love this story! It really couldn't have been any worse, aye? Not too worry - maybe try to apply the 10-10-10 rule? In 10 minutes, will this still be affecting you? In 10 days, will it still be affecting you? In 10 years, will this it be affecting you?...Hopefully not : ) Jeez, now I sound like a counsellor.

Anyway, I FULLY empathise!

Keera Ann Fox said...

Ooh, I like that 10-10-10 rule! Thanks, Hana! (And thanks, Badaunt, for giving Hana a reason to mention it. ;-) )

(Word verification: minced. I kid you not!)