Saturday, October 31, 2009

Upside Down

I wrote about some of the turmoil that's going on at my school in a recent post. I got more of the story the following day and it goes a little something like this.

My manager, The Princess had indeed approached my boss about buying the school from him and apparently he said it was a good idea. I didn't know that he had initially approved the idea. Then a couple days later he changed his mind and told The Princess he wanted things to stay the way they are. Ever since my boss bought the school from Karen, there have been ongoing financial woes. I never knew the details, and since I was getting paid - even though usually not in full nor on time, I was eventually collecting- so I didn't want to pry. After I heard The Princess was interested in buying the school I was hopeful that things aren't as bad as I'd thought. We have picked up more students in the past few weeks, so I guess things are turning around. The Princess handles all the books, and she's a pretty savvy lady - so I'm sure she wouldn't be wanting to sink her money into a school that was bound to fail.

She wasn't pleased that my boss decided he wanted to keep his school, and made the decision a few days later that she wanted to leave and open up her own school with her sister in early 2010. This angered my boss, who really relies on her. She's a good manager and really does well with parents who bring in their kids to check out the school. I don't know why my boss doesn't take on more responsibility in the PR department; he's an amicable fellow - but I think his confidence was shaken by having his previous school, a large downtown hagwon that employed around fifteen teachers, go under in the spring of 2008.

So he decided The Princess is selfish, which is surely true, but I can understand how she's thinking. When she originally agreed to work at our school it was in a managerial capacity. She didn't want to teach classes. If you've followed this blog for awhile, you'll know I used to lament that the size of out school didn't warrant a full time manager - and indeed, for a short time we did have enough teachers to cover all the classes and so The Princess got her wish and was able to spend a large portion of her day sitting at her desk examining her fingernails. That didn't last (I can't remember why. At this point it's all fuzzy - I feel like we're gone through a billion teachers) and she's been back in the classroom for months. Still, on her busiest teaching day she only has three and a half classes - so, I'm not going to cry her a river. Anyhow, she had decided it was time to move on, and told my boss she would be finishing up with us at the end of the year.

Even still, my boss was pissed off. And worried. He went back to The Princess a few days later and told her he'd changed his mind: he'd decided to sell the school. Only thing was, he wasn't willing to sell it to her. (He probably phrased it cleverly - like "I hope you'll be happy in your future business, now that you've made up your mind to leave us I've decided I want to leave as well - so I'm looking for someone (not YOU) to buy the school.") This, of course, enraged The Princess. The two of them have been walking around for a couple weeks like Grim and Grimmer. It's been a real goddamned pleasure to be at work with them.

So I found out some of the story last Friday from my boss. The Princess filled in the gaps on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the boss pretty much asked me to be the manager. I agreed that I could administer level tests and meet prospective parents who surely couldn't speak English but might enjoy my pleasant Charlie Brown's Teacher "Mwuuuu mwuuh mwuh" voice as I speak to them. I can't answer the phones and I can't speak to the "omoni's" (mommies) about their kid's progress. I can't do a whole lot of stuff that a manager needs to do - and frankly I don't want the job. I'd prefer if they didn't add one little iota of more work right now. I'm still fighting the shingles and I'm exhausted. I need calm. I need peace.

On Thursday night, the boss asked me to lend him a thousand dollars. "This isn't going well." I thought. I avoided answering him, but knew I wasn't going to do it. The boss was freaking out, and I tried to get him to calm the hell down. "Don't worry. We'll find a manager. We have time. Everything is going to be all right."

When The Princess told me on Tuesday the boss was considering selling the school, I immediately told her I'd quit if he did. One of the main reasons I even agreed to re-sign for one more year was out of loyalty to him. I didn't think he could really bear the cost of getting me back home and hiring a new foreign teacher, and frankly - I didn't want to add to his stress. (Plus I'm lazy and going through the rigamaroll of securing a new job seemed like too much of a hassle, having gone through it the previous summer.)

On Friday I woke up even stuffier than the day before - I'm fighting a cold - and I had only a squeak of a raspy voice. "No worries," I thought. "Today is our lame-o Halloween thing - so my classes will be shortened by a good twenty minutes." With only one day before the weekend, I figured I'd wing it.

Three minutes before my second class of the day, The Princess rolled her chair over to my desk and whispered, "He sold the school." I used all my "W" questions in two seconds flat. "What? When? To who? When will he finish? Why? What? Huh?" I sat there shaking my head as she told me the new boss would start "probably next month."
"What? November?!? That's next week!"

The bell rang signalling the start of the class.

I grabbed up my stuff and headed toward the classroom, but stopped short. I suddenly felt like I couldn't breathe. I slipped into the open door of an empty classroom just before I burst into tears. My co-worker found me there a few minutes later and seeing the state I was in, asked if she should go mind the class. I thanked her and asked her to just give me a few minutes. I spashed some cold water on my face and poured some Visine in my eyes, but in the end I cried all goddamned day long. In my classes, I passed it off as my part of my bad cold and I think some of the students actually bought it.

And right now I've got fifteen minutes to get into the shower and get dressed for this sham of a "hweshick" (work party) that was planned weeks ago. The first sign of a tear, though - and I'm heading back home.

1 comment:

Kevin Kim said...

Sorry to hear about all this. It seems almost as if there's a perfect storm of badness happening over yonder. Hang tight.