Sharon sometimes makes me laugh my ass off, I swear! Earlier, the phone rang and she was resting. I motioned that I would answer the phone. I never answer the phone in the teachers’ office but I was feeling feisty. Sharon motioned for me to go ahead so I did. Before that she had told me that the students had worn her out or something to that affect so I thought she should rest. I told her she should not work so hard. We do have a bit of a cat and dog relationship but I do really like Sharon. She is abrasive but she means well, probably.
"Wei?" I said, a ‘hello’ of sorts in the second Chinese tone, which sounds like a question.
The voice at the other end sputtered some tentative Chinese. In the background Sharon tittered as I listened and spoke.
"Ting bu dong," I replied meaning 'I do not understand.'
This put Sharon nearly over the top, she giggled to herself uncontrollably as she got up from resting - in one of the lounge chairs that are placed by her desk because she has many visitors- to take the phone because she saw me looking at her in a panic.
Once she had the phone, she composed herself in a very businesslike manner. She talked for less than a minute to the person on the phone. When she hung up the phone, she laughed. I, however, was a bit nervous.
"You made joke," she told me as she walked back to the chair where she had previously been resting and complaining about the students.
"Who was that, was it someone important?" I was a little concerned. I hope that I had not offended the local communist leader or someone important.
"International joke. You make international joke." She answered.
"International joke?" I asked perplexed.
"Yes, that was foreigner," she said laughing.
"Oh, that was an international joke," I said laughing with her.
"International joke!" she said once more for emphasis.
As I type, Dolly is babbling on about the difference in pronunciation between cunt and can't. I am never sure what she is talking about really. Perhaps she is trying to entertain me. She is as interesting - and entertaining - as a random piece of gravel. She then told me that our company will not pay her until she turns in lesson plans. I shrug. I am not sure what to tell her.
Finally, fed up with the dildo can’t-cunt lady, I get up and go to the school store in the recreational building on the first floor. As I leave the teachers’ office, two women and a teenage boy enter the office and sit down and talk to Sharon.
Since I just had dumplings for lunch, I think it a wise idea to buy not single mint but Double Mint gum; Wrigley's is everywhere. As I walk down the hall outside of the 8th floor teachers' office, I bump into some students enjoying their lunch break. One of the students I ask if he has holiday plans for the 7 day holiday coming up.
"Homework," he tells me.
"That's horrible," I reply.
As I wait for the elevator, I tell two students hello who are playing ping pong without a table. They are running around hitting the balls like maniacs all over the area by the elevator bank. I smile at them as I get into the elevator.
At the school store, which is short walk across the quad, I locate the gum and I am about to tell the lady behind the counter (since everything is behind the counter and the clerk must fetch all of the items) what I want when a big noisy group of students come in pushing and shoving; they jostle me back from the counter. I make my way back to the counter like I am a salmon swimming up stream and in Chinese, I tell the woman ‘this’ and I point to the Wrigley’s Double Mint.
As I leave the store, I pop a piece of the Wrigley’s into my mouth and head back to the teachers’ office. The boys are still playing table-less ping pong when I get off the elevator on the 8th floor.
Dolly is gone when I get back to the office, which means that perhaps I can even do a little work without her buzzing like a fly in my ear. Buzz, Buzz. Can’t Can’t Cunt.
"I think you talk with him," Sharon told me as I walked back into the office after I popped down to the school store to buy gum.
“Hi,” I say to the young man sitting across from Sharon at her desk.
Sharon tells me that this is the person that was on the phone speaking Chinese. He is Korean. I laugh and he laughs. The two women who are with him do not understand why we are suddenly laughing.
I go to class to give the students their first vocabulary test. I tell the class I do not want any cheaters.
“What is cheater?” Kevin asks.
“Someone who looks at others’ papers.”
“No cheater Riki,” he tells Leon whom he refuses to call Leon. All of the boys still call Leon, Riki. They refuse to call him Leon.
I hand them the test. I walk around the room while they work. I want to make sure that they really are not cheating. At the back of the room - where I can watch to make sure they are not cheating; I park myself and work on lesson plans at the laptop that the school gave me. At one point, I look up and Leon and Danny are talking maybe - with Kevin in between concentrating. I clap my hands loudly like you would at bad puppy. Everyone jumps. Danny and Leon look particularly guilty.
“Leon bad boy,” Danny says in his own defense.
I shake my fist at Leon. Really, these are sweet kids. I try to never get angry. Getting angry with Leon, or Danny, or Kevin is really no different than getting angry at a naughty puppy. I cannot get angry with them. That would be really heartless. I tell Leon to finish his test.
Leta and Jane finish first. I take their papers and tell them to work on whatever they would like. Surprisingly, Leon gives me his paper at roughly the same time. Lillian then gives me her paper. After she gives me her paper, Lillian lays her head down on the desk. Jane and Leta both work on homework. Next, Danny gives me his paper. Then Elliot and Paul give me their papers. Venice and Kevin are the last to finish. While they are working, the other boys roam around the room.
“Hey! What are you monkeys doing? Sit down! Class is not over!” I tell them. “Kevin and Venice are not finished.” The boys sit down in less than a rush.
When Venice and Kevin finish, I hand the papers out for the students to grade. Lillian tries to get me to give her paper to Jane; I give it to Venice. I explain the rules. I will read the answers and they mark it if it is wrong.
At the end of this exercise, I am not surprised at the results. Lillian misses thirteen out of the twenty. Elliot misses ten out of the twenty. This does not surprise me because neither of them ever pays attention. When we are to be working on an activity Lillian reads a Chinese novel or lays her head on her desk. Elliot talks in class and bothers Danny when Danny is trying to pay attention.
Leon misses 6 of the words. Paul misses 6 as well, which is okay because I know that their English levels are lower. Danny misses three. Kevin, Venice and Jane each miss two. Leta, of course, misses none. She is the most hardworking (and youngest) student in the class.
Back at the office, I hand the results to Sharon. She has problems with Venice. He makes an effort in my class. I actually really like him. I tell her that he did well.
“Venice?” she asked.
“Yes, he does well in my class.”
She then tells me that the students have trouble with Dolly. I want to tell her that I have trouble with Ding Dong Dolly but I hold my tongue. I am in a rush anyway. I have to go to the office for my bi-weekly meeting.