Saturday, May 22, 2010

“Everybody’s got the right to some sunshine / not the sun but maybe one of its beams.”

I’m enjoying my new position. For one thing, I get to eat lunch with the kids. Theoretically this means they get to practice English in a more relaxed environment than their classes. In reality, however, I am about as able to speak while eating as I am to pat my head while rubbing my stomach – though that’s not the best analogy as I excel in that arena. So for some classes I eat in amused silence while my seatmates play rock-paper-scissors, the loser having to think of a question to ask me.

“This is rude of me, but” started a student yesterday, “Do you make a lot of money as a teacher?”

“Not nearly as much as I would if I got a yen for every time someone asked me a question starting with ‘This is rude of me, but’ ” I wanted to reply but didn’t. The funny thing is it usually precedes questions that aren’t rude at all – “what’s your middle name?” or “how many siblings do you have?” The actually offensive questions – like, “How did you get so fat?” or “Aren’t black people scary?” - pop out of nowhere.

“I don’t make too much,” I said. “I’m just a teacher.”

“Don’t teachers make a lot of money?” my student asked. Aww, they’re cute when they’re so naive. I assume my coworkers are making more than me – or so they should be, considering their hours – but I wouldn’t think it’d be by much.

“Well, I’m not a real teacher. I’m just an assistant.”

“Is this like a part-time job for you?”

“Something like that. I mean, I leave at 4:30 every day.”

“Eh!?” Another student burst in incredulously. “You have another job other than the school?”

“No, no, only the school.” I am very loyal, you see. “But I leave at 4:30 every day, so I’m not a real teacher. So I don’t make much money.”

They nod and make the “ehhhh” sound that means they don’t really understand but don’t feel like pursuing it.

At the previous school I got off at five and had a half-hour bike ride home. Now I leave at 4:30 and walk home in seven minutes. This time of year it’s still full daylight as I walk through the door. Another reason to like this new location.

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