Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I should've known . . .

that when six of the other teachers started laughing at my schedule and wishing me good luck, I was going to have an interesting experience!

Besides the English classes that I was assigned this semester, I also have a few individual students. One of those students, who I'll refer to as Walter (which is not his name) has already, on the second day of the third week of classes, earned the "Biggest Pain-in-the-Behind Student of the Semester Award". And I haven't even met him yet.

I'm sure Walter is a fabulous guy that I am going to like a whole lot, assuming I ever get the chance to meet him. But his reputation preceded him, and he has not disappointed.

Of the six teachers that wished me luck and laughed that I was the "chosen one" (as in chosen to be Walter's teacher for the semester) half of them had personally had him as a student and the other three knew all the stories about the guy. Supposedly, he is notorious school-wide for being a class canceller and a no-show. He is, as I understand it, a bit of a big shot at a local business in town. He wants to improve his English, so every semester he signs up for private classes two days per week at his office.

The first day I was scheduled to have class with him, I took the bus downtown and walked to his office. I went through security and made my way up to his floor. I walked in, told the receptionist who I was, and she responded with something along the lines of "Walter? Walter is traveling. He isn't here." More than a little surprised, I asked when he would be back. The receptionist said she had no idea and that Walter's secretary was out to lunch.

And this is the curse of being the "chosen one". He either has his secretary call the school and cancel his classes the evening before or the morning of class or he doesn't even bother to do that much even and you end up going all the way down to his office only to learn he isn't there or isn't available. Meanwhile, you have to block off the two classes in your schedule every week on the odd chance he actually decides he wants to have class. Which so far, here on week three of the semester hasn't happened.

Today was another one of those fun show-up at his office and get told he is in a meeting and cannot have class days. On the positive side of things, I get to turn around, go home, and yet still get paid for the class. Quick, easy money. But really, I'm not a big fan of wasting my time. I have plenty of other things I'd rather be doing that don't involve killing time on city buses: I could go get an overdue mani/pedi, bake something fabulous, clean the new pigeon poop off my window, do further research and find a good way to destroy pigeons . . . you know, important stuff.

The good news is that they never make a teacher deal with Walter more than one semester. So I just have to put in my time for a few more months and after that I get to join the ranks of so many others who have come before me on this mission to meet and have class with Walter. Wish me luck, or um, maybe patience. Yes, patience, that's probably what I need more of this semester.


Corinne said...

can you call his secretary before you get on the bus? At least then you would not waste your time. I have learned that all appointments in Brazil must be reconfirmed the evening (and usually) morning of. If you set something up for next week, and don´t reconfirm, everyone just assumes it is cancelled. I had a bunch of no-shows before I figured this out.

On the bright side, maybe there is a cool restaurant/café or store near his office you can frequent when he stands you up??

Rachel said...

and now you know why i hate teaching english in brazil. picture walter x 3 and that was my past year.

a tip: ask him for his cell and text him an hour or two before class (or call his secretary) and you may not have to waste your time.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought about voluteering in public schools?

Mamasphere said...

I'm disappointed in you, Emily. I can't believe you haven't cleaned the pigeon poop off the window yet! And with company to boot!

Just kidding. I've actually heard that it's quite common for this to happen with personal lessons. It's great to still be paid, but you're right, it still sucks to waste time!

Ray Adkins said...


Completing what Corinne just wrote, I just recently learned that in Brazilian business practices, there are two stages of confirming an appointment or meeting, in Portuguese:

-"confirmado" ( confirmed) means over the phone and do not write it in pen, use pencil )

-"confirmadissimo" ( super confirmed) which means confirmed by writting via email, go ahea and use your pen to write down the meeting...


Mrs. De Miranda said...

Hi there! I sent you an email, but I thought I would leave you a comment as well! I find your blog fascinating because I face moving to Brazil in the coming months, it has not been determined, but i feel it is inevitable. I find it encouraging that you are able to work. Do you speak fluent portuguese?