How to Break a Contract in Taiwan

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By Joshua Dent

It was a fairly cold, and chilly Friday night into Saturday here in the Taiwan.

I would say temperatures were hovering around 14-15 degrees. Much of the last 24 hours was covered with extremely HEAVY intermittent rain showers.

Friday at 9 p.m. was no different than any of the last 9 Friday nights for me. I normally am so pissed off and wound up at my boss, and Chinese assistant teacher that I rarely even make it back to my house after work.

I headed directly to the 7-11 around the corner for a nice tall can of Heineken at 95NTD to get the night started.

For Americans, I am sure you are thinking what a strange drinking spot. But, it is actually quite common to start the night off sitting outside at a 7-11 here.

For the first 25 minutes, I sit and think about how much I can’t stand my school, and that I am going to be really hating life after I stay out until 5 in the morning tonight, and my alarm goes off at 10a.m. for my first class.

Friday night this week was absolutely no different.  The usual course of destruction ensued until about 4 a.m. That was when I decided that wasn’t good enough. It was time to go to 3 different 7-11’s on my way home to drink another night cap.

It is certain that the overnight Taiwan 7-11 people were a bit intrigued by the solo Westerner staggering from 7-11 to 7-11 crushing cans of Heineken.

By this time, it is 5:30 a.m.,  and I finally stumble back to my apartment on Yanping Road, piss-faced drunk.

Of course, don’t forget the fact that my house is half a mile from the police station. So, I always get the pleasure of walking past the police on my way home.

I normally have taken my shoes off by that point, and rolled up my pants since it is almost always raining.

This night, the extra 3 beers on the way home really put a damper on things. I am not even sure I made it to my bed last night. I just remember opening up the door to my apartment, and falling right asleep.

I have always had a remarkable ability to function even after some of the more brutal nights like that.  I think I even woke up about an hour before my alarm.

So, at 10:30 a.m., it was off to my first class of the day. I have been saying for months that I pity this poor kid, David. David is by far the smartest, most respectful, and motivated student I have.

But, I normally am still so wasted still by the time I teach his class. I have done some ridiculous lessons in that class. I always bring my guitar.

We have even sang Steve Miller Band “Dance, Dance, Dance!”

He also talked his parents into getting him his own guitar.

After at least 8 straight weeks of absolute Saturday morning debauchery, I noticed he had somebody with him today.

My first thought was “Oh Shit, he brought his mom with him!” I only saw the person from behind and it was the body of a female with really long hair.

So, I left my guitar in the office, and tried to prepare some sort of “serious lesson” within the next 5 minutes.  I walked into the class and realized it was actually his sister.  Apparently, he told her how much fun he was having and she wanted to come with him.

It is funny what kind of popularity you get from just being yourself in the classroom.

His class ended at 12p.m. That is when I headed back to the apartment to spend the first hour praying that my 3:30 private adult student cancels so I can sleep an extra hour.

I had no such luck today.

I was back to work at 3:30 for a private class. It was for a private lesson with a student named Austin. Austin is a 40 year old engineer with the heart of gold. English just doesn’t happen to be his forte. He has been studying English at the school for years. But, he can easily get stumped when I ask him questions such as “How are you?”

Those painful and hunger Saturday afternoon 90 minutes are followed by easily my worst class of the week..

I had a class on Saturday night from 5:00- 6:30 with 4 of the most miserable 16 year old kids Taiwan has to offer, I can’t even begin to list off the things I tried to do just to get a reaction out of them. I just wanted to see that they had some sign of life.

Tonight was a little bit different. I knew I was in for a storm even before the class started.

“School Manager” Chloe, with her shitty English, was going to be my assistant for this advanced class. I also noticed that she prepared the wrong lesson.

I really didn’t know what to do. She was busy, and I was busy before the class.

I also could barely stand the thought of talking to her any more than I had to. So, I took the chance and still prepared to teach the lesson from what I was supposed to do for that night.

I crossed my fingers for the first 25 minutes of class that this 5’5 hellion of a fire dragon lady would be too scared to pop her head in this advanced class for the night. I had no such luck.

She came right in the room, dressed in a short skirt and high heels,  ranting and raving that I was teaching the wrong lesson. I calmly pointed out to her that I was just doing what I was supposed to.

She started to get even more livid. The look in the eyes of this woman when she is mad clearly depicts there is no winning a disagreement with her.

I will mention that these kids that I could not get any reaction out of for 5 months did suddenly become interested in what we were jabbering back and forth to each other. I could see Dennis, the class wise ass, perk up. I also noticed Megan the girl that never talks started to cover her mouth from laughing.

I taught the rest of the lesson with a volume level of about .05, and my head down. I wasn’t really quite sure how to handle this. Part of me wanted to reach out and strangle that bitch. Another part of me thought it was almost humorous. She had gone beyond ape shit. There was just no turning back at that point.

Another part of me started to become happy. I think I knew regardless of the outcome of our post class discussion I wasn’t coming back to that Hell Hole. It was almost like a feeling of liberation.

So, I gutted out the rest of that class. It was mainly because the kids I taught after them were the exact opposite. They were a group of 16 year old kids with some of the best attitudes I have ever seen. We were doing really challenging activities in that class. They always responded wanting more responsibility.

Chloe left me alone so I could teach the final class of the evening effectively. I went and saw those kids knowing that was probably the last time I would see them.

After class, the manager asked if I could stay. I said, “ABSOLUTELY!” She proceeded to tell me that she wasn’t going to pay me for tonight’s class since I taught the wrong class. After an 11 hour day on 4 hours of sleep, I wasn’t buying it. It was a pretty quick ending to the conversation.

I told her I quit if she doesn’t want to pay me. After we exchanged 3 rounds of  me saying ” I quit ” and her saying “You can’t”. I finally said. ” I am not coming back, EVER!!”

Now, I sit in The Taiwan from the confines of my tiny one bedroom apartment. I am in a land where I can barely order a meal in the native tongue, and without a job.

I still feel one million times better than going to work and getting kicked around by that shit hole of an office that was trying to call itself a school. I know I will get a much better job soon!

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