Yesterday i had a job interview in X-burg, a small city in East Germany. It took 2 and a half hours though the last half hour was me sitting in the computer room on my own, the Corporate Manager and Director of Studies discussing my case; i guess they were arguing, actually. The Corporate Manager, surprisingly, is an ex-teacher and so very unlike Ultima Thule’s CM, who knows absolutely nothing about anything except sales (at which she is extremely good, because she is a sociopath). i liked the X-burg CM and disliked the DoS; this seemed mutual. The DoS was aggressive and manic, to the extent that i wondered if she was on speed. Discussing problem groups, such as the engineering apprentices who spend the whole lesson looking at porn and giggling in German, she said: “It’s YOUR job to make them talk! You have to make them talk! Doesn’t matter how! If you have to sit on them and force them to talk then that’s what you do! If they want it the hard way, you make it hard for them! It’s just like school!”
i smiled politely, thinking: “this is why i refused to become a school teacher, and why i would quit if i had to teach these shits more than 90 minutes a week.” She struck me as a typically obtuse, aggressive female, a feminist power woman, i.e. a loathsome, stupid human being, crassly insensitive and unimaginative, high on her own ego and worldly success.
The school is bigger than Ultima Thule’s, but they have more teachers, and it seems they have an unofficial policy of giving each teacher less than 120 units of work a month, so they can pay a lower rate – 12 Euros/unit if under 120, 15 if over. i compare this with U.T., where i saw one teacher ask Juniper, the lovely receptionist, if she could give him more units so he could achieve more than 120 for that month. i felt the Corporate Manager in X-burg is trustworthy enough, though she no doubt connives in keeping the teachers on less than 1200 Euros a month (before tax).
After their discussion, the CM and DoS offered me the job, though they were honest enough to add that there was at present only 15 units a week, per teacher (about half what i need to survive). Work should pick up in April, so we agreed i would come in April. And then i went to a pub and got drunk and tried to imagine living in this city. X-burg itself was beautiful, even on a freezing cold grey German day, the kind of day when even Heaven would appear a little purgatorial. Unlike Ultima Thule it wasn’t absolutely destroyed in the war and there weren’t as many beggars and hippies as in UT.
i have no enthusiasm for the school at X-burg and find it impossible to imagine working there. But no more can i imagine staying in Ultima Thule. i no longer belong here. i have aroused the enmity of most of the other teachers, apparently through my English sense of humour, which of course they don’t understand (joking with another English teacher, who understands & responds to my humour, but others just think i’m a cruel monster). The thought that they meet behind my back, to discuss “the Elberry problem”, how to get rid of me, is unnerving. i am unsure of my crime – i distrust the immediate explanation, that my joking (calling the other English teacher “fat Elvis” as he is of study build, though not actually fat) has aroused the universal disapproval & loathing of my colleagues. It seems inadequate, even factoring in the irony deficiency of just about everyone not raised in England. i can’t think what else i have done but nonetheless there is a distinct, arctic chill at work. i think the only person i feel sure of is Juniper, the MILF receptionist who seems apart from ordinary work politics -she no more belongs there than do i. The other day, walking to work, i felt her attention, and looking up saw a figure outlined against the school windows. i couldn’t discern who it was, but felt her kindly awareness of me, and raised a hand. She raised a hand in return. i guess anyone else would have just turned away, or spat in disgust, or launched an RPG at me.
There is more work in Ultima Thule – indeed, it is probably the best place to work, to save money, since the city is very cheap but there is usually plenty of work. But i can’t stay here. For the whole week, i have felt like a ghost in the centre, as if i should have died or left last year, and everyone is surprised & displeased to find me still there – “YOU? i thought you left! Why are you still here? You don’t belong here!”. It is fairly subtle – no one has spat at me yet – but maddeningly insistent, this sense that i should have left by now. Perhaps, if i stay till April, my colleagues will yet form a circle and spit on me, bukkake-style. Then move in with fists and boots and teaching materials, screaming with rage, slobbering “kill! kill! kill!”. Since i don’t know what i have done, i don’t even know if i deserve this, though i suppose i probably do. i know i am a bad human being. Will moving change that? Of course not, if i am bad and shouldn’t be alive, then such measures will not suffice. But at least the people in X-burg don’t yet know what i am like.
On Thursday i decided i probably wouldn’t accept an offer from X-burg, as with my 600 €/month medical insurance i need considerably more than 1200 € to survive. But on Thursday night one of my students, who runs his own company, offered me proof-reading work, which i can do remotely. It isn’t firm yet, but i hope that with that and about 20 to 30 units a week in X-burg, i can just about survive. Paying off the debts i incurred in Kiel (thanks to i_____a) seems unlikely, but one step at a time. After all, i’ll be 35 next week, and surely it’s normal to be nearly old and yet owe crippling debts, have no skills, no worthwhile qualifications, and seemingly no hope of a stable career.
i enjoy teaching but there is a reason most teachers are in their early 20s and have no intention of staying long – you simply can’t survive on 1200 Euros a month. Since there is absolutely nothing else i can do i have to continue. If i’d done a real degree at university, i.e. in Science, perhaps things wouldn’t have come to this pass. But i can’t turn time backwards so i may as well just continue on this weird path, being as i am nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, old now, in the selva oscura, ché la diritta via era smarrita. i have no hope, that is, no sense of the future, merely a sense that i no longer belong, here or anywhere.