Tuesday, February 3, 2009

boss: do as i say not as i do

this morning started off with a text message from my boss saying that she needed to push back our meeting from 10am to 11am; she was running late. i arrived at the coffee shop that she suggested and sat there for 1/2 hour waiting, without a call or text from her.

(photo below: waiting at the coffe shop...)
(photo below: still waiting...)

i can handle a cancellation or a change of time or waiting for 1/2 hour, but all three?? no, this isn't kosher with me. on top of these three acts, i find out the reason for our meeting today... professionalism. "say what?" "is this where i'm suppose to laugh or am i suppose to teach her the english saying "do as i say not as i do"?"

(wait wait. it gets better....)

first topic of professionalism in the book that she has created for 'foreign teachers' (that'd be me) is not to be late, respect others time! (wait, it gets better...) as if i don't know what this concept is, she gives me an example of how the other day someone did not respect her time and she wasted a 1/2 hour of her day. it was very difficult for me not to drop my jaw or not smirk at her. i was partially in shock.

(it gets better...)

next topic is how this job is her career and some foreign teachers consider this 'fun' and by working for her we foreign teachers have to act in a professional manner. "ok, agreed". if she is my model of professionalism, than i can lower my bar.....mucho.

next topic. i should not go to conversation class unprepared (because that is all i'm providing to the students, not a grammar lesson) i need arrive prepared with a topic for each student. she tells me "students will know if you are not prepared and they don't appreciate this". "beep beep boss lady, back this truck up". i've taught for you for 3 weeks now. each time you gave me a student i asked what i should cover or discuss. you responded quickly by just saying "just provide conversation, that's it". now 3 weeks into it you contradict yourself by saying i need to plan. (i want to be clear: i have no problem at all planning, it's that i'm perturbed by her indirectly saying at first "I don't have time for you" then for her to turn it around and give me a lesson on how i need to be professional and not waist the students time)

(it gets better...)

next topic: be engaging in conversation with the students. she advises me "ask questions, provide feedback and information on 'real' english (sayings, slang), but over all be engaging". i think to myself "ok, this is fair and quite obvious too". to wrap up this meeting, after 2 hours on professionalism, she concludes by asking me, "so how are things going for you in argentina? what sort of things have you been doing." as i start to speak (and this isn't an exaggeration) she immediately looks away and tries to flag down the waitress because she is already a 1/2 hour late for her class (WITH A STUDENT!). so after she lectures me on how i need to be engaging in conversation, she listens to nothing i'm saying. then she proceeds to get up from the table (as i'm still speaking) to go get the waitress because the waitress did not see her feverishly waving her hand around.

i promise you, this was not an exaggeration of my meeting today, she is really like this.


(photo below: on my walk back to the subte, taken next to 'plaza de mayo')


Anonymous said...

Hi Yill. I read about the Porteño propensity for being late, maybe fetish is a better word. So I expected it. I was curious, though, how it actually works, this notion that it is a good thing to be late? If one person makes it a point to be fashionably late, and the person who is supposed to be waiting also decides to be fashionably late, and each one needs to appear later than the other, how is it that anyone ever shows up anywhere at all? It becomes a "being later than you" house of cards, each one trying to be later than the other, until the stack tumbles.

I am not a fan of late. I do not think it is fashionable, I think it is extraordinarily rude and inconsiderate. If I suggest meeting someone at 9, I am told I should tell them to come at 7:30. Huh?

The obvious other side to this is the person waiting (you in this case). The person making you wait is telling you in no uncertain terms that his or her time is more valuable than yours, implying that his or her life is more valuable than yours. Being late means nothing less than this. I am supposed to sit twiddling my thumbs waiting, while the other person does a little shopping, or chats on the phone with Mom, or picks up the laundry, until he or she has reached the fashionably late point and can deign to appear.

It is rude and I don't participate. If someone tells me to meet at noon or eight or whenever, I will be there at noon or eight or whenever; fifteen minutes later, max, I will be gone and off doing something else. My time is at least as valuable as theirs.

Uh huh, you started me on a rant. Sorry. But you rang a bell with me on this one. Plumbers were scheduled to come to our flat at 9 this morning to repair a leak in a bathtub. At 9:35, I called to find out if they were on their way, and was informed they had not left yet, but would be there soon. At 10:45, they appeared. They had me trapped because I want to use the tub. Otherwise, I would have left and gone on about my day by 9:15, and they could eat their service call.

Don't get me started ... .

love,gidget said...

i can so relate to this post! It reminds me of working as an English teacher in prague :P

Anonymous said...

I´m sorry I know you don´t know me, but...I just simply must ask you, are you working for ´AheadEnglish´? Your story just sounds too eerily the same as mine. I was giving ´conversation classes only´, and was given no support at all, until I was given a ´lesson for foreign teachers because they are clearly worse than argentine teachers who are serious about their profession´. My boss´s professionalism was at times very cuestionable....

yillabean said...

thanks for all the comments.

i'm adapting to the 'late' thing. i knew this was a cultural thing before arriving, so i'm trying to shake my american ways of showing up 5 min. early and expecting the same from others.

if the students are late, it's their time learning english they will be waisting. if i don't have another meeting i wouldn't mind staying later with them.

luckily i still get paid if the students cancels.

for my boss, if she was just purely late and a little schizo i would let it roll off. but she got my knickers in a knot with the whole 'professionalism manual' and not respecting my time more than once.

again, this week, she didn't give me my students names or class time until the night before i was to teach... and she wants me to go in being prepared. that's not being respectful of my time.