Monday, June 12, 2006

Quitters Never Win, Winners Never Quit



I have had a lot of jobs in my life:

*Seattle Times Paper Boy (just like Ned!)

*Usher/concessions seller/cashier at various movie theaters

*I worked at a mail order photo company where I put rolls of film in boxes (about 5000 per day), wrote up orders (several hundred per day), and stuffed rolls of film into a splicing machine (many many many per day).

*Short-order fry cook at Bimini's (R.I.P.) In addition to hamburgers and fries we made chimichangas. "What's a chimichanga?" you might have asked in the mid 80's. Well, a chimichanga (the way we made them) is like a crispy fried burrito. It's got chicken, jack and cheddar cheese, green chilies, green onions, and green taco sauce, it's wrapped in a flour tortilla, deep friend, and dipped in honey-mustard sauce and it's actually quite good.

*I worked for my parents company several different times. I did everything from typing up reports to driving a delivery truck. I swept the dock (it was a company that serviced fishing vessels), sat fire watch, painted, scraped rust, cut scrap metal, drove a fork lift, and much more.

*I worked at UPS for about seven years. I started unloading trucks, then moved to loading trucks, then to sorting packages, then to sorting letters. I was a Teamster and damned proud of it!

*My sleaziest job: I worked as a night receptionist and help desk operator for a porno web site.

*For one year I worked as an assistant to the assistant producer on a public radio talk show (this was the best job I've ever had).

*For a couple years I worked at the same radio station as a receptionist.

*For a year and a half I worked at the University of Washington Library Cashier, which was probably the most emotionally difficult and spiritually crushing job I've ever suffered through.

*I worked as a host/waiter for about a year or two at a truly fine restaurant called Calypso.

*In addition to all of the above, I've done all kinds of odd jobs in order to make a little extra cash.

*For the last three years I've been teaching English in Taiwan. Some teaching jobs have been good, some have been bad.

No matter how much I've hated a job, I've always found it really difficult to quit. This is probably because I usually get along well with my co-workers and bosses, and even if I don't like my boss, I have a compulsive desire to be liked by and approved of by others. Quitting could make my co-workers think I think I'm better than them, and it could also make my bosses feel disappointed in me.

The funny thing about bosses is that no matter how trivial and low paying a job might be, they always act like their employees should dedicate their entire existence to it. Well, I'm just the kind of guy who falls for that, and I've let myself be trapped in truly hellish jobs for years when the best thing I could have done for myself as well as for the job would have been to quit. Even when I have quit a job, I've always given ample notice and did the best I could to leave on good terms.

Now, teaching is not something I ever really thought I'd do for a living--at least not teaching young children. When I came to Taiwan I thought I'd be here about six months. I was just looking for something to change my life, to shake things up a little. Almost four years later I'm still here, and I have to admit that dealing with hordes of spoiled, neglected, over stimulated, under challenged, children of former spoiled, neglected, over stimulated, under challenged children (who are now overworked and stressed out parents) has been enough to drive me to the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Until about two weeks ago I was working at the worst school I've ever "taught" at. I could go on and on about what was wrong with the school, and all of the reasons I could list would be factors that contributed to my quitting, but the real reason I quit was because the students were horrible human beings. I know that sounds like a harsh thing to say about children, but you know all those really horrible adults you run into in life? The selfish, greedy, inconsiderate, rude, arrogant people who make the rest of us suffer? Well, those people were children once. It just so happens that my former school had a disproportionate number of these monsters.

I knew in the first week that I was going to hate the job. The kids weren't just rowdy, they were downright nasty. Some adjectives that could be used to describe them are insolent, rude, loud, disruptive, violent, sneaky, insubordinate, cocky, dishonest, mean-spirited, hostile, and offensive. Long story short, I tried my best to ignore the behavior and just ride out the job. I was supposed to stay until the end of July, but, as I didn't have a contract, I decided to quit at the end of May. I gave no notice. I just waited until my pay for May had been deposited into my bank account, transferred it all to another bank, then I sent the head teacher and the owner a text message: "Sorry for short notice. I quit. Kids' behavior intollerable."

They were pissed off at me, but there was nothing they could really do, and it is their fault anyway for letting their school suck so much.

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