The beginning of the end
I remembered that it was a Friday evening when I got a call from a Korean friend (Mr. J) telling me that he needed to meet me urgently. Mr. J was in his 50's and came from a distinguished family in Korea. Coming from wealth, he had opportunities to invest in businesses which catered to his sophisticated persona. Mr. J was tall, well-built, good looking and has charisma oozing out of his ears. He was.... as coined in Singapore to be a 'Social Butterfly' or as I would call it 'the ambassador's wife'. This personality type was one which would act like lubricant, easing the rough toothed-gears together, keeping everything running smoothly through continual banter and incessive drinking. Mr. Jay's strength was in the relationship which he had with the echelons of Korean society living in Vietnam. People would rely on him to connect with powerful people or mediate between individuals with soured business dealings.
Anyways....Mr. J and his wife were going to open a hotel management company. He wanted me to be a part of his team.
I thought to myself, would I leave my beloved students to pursue an adventure in a new industry? NAH! I was committed to at least another 3 years before I would consider moving to Chiang Mai, Thailand to be with my brother...
Ooo.... look... chocolate cake in the toilet
So when I got back to school on Monday, I was called into the school chairman's office and they had prepared a work contract for me to sign. This was all out of the blue and I had not prepared for it, I mean I told Mr. J that I needed a few days to think about his job offer and it was enticing but I could not simply just give up on my students.
I asked the chairman for a few days to reconsider whether I would sign the contract as I had this new job offer which I was exploring and I owed it to myself to look into it (although I had no intention of leaving the school.)
The chairman was unimpressed, however he agreed to hold back the contract signing for a few days for me to think through my plans.
I don't know... I have always been a very straightforward and honest person and I would explain and let people understand the context and situation. I guess in Asia straightforwardness and honesty is not as well looked upon as compared with tact and only saying things which are good for one's ear to hear…
Hey wanna see a neat trick with this piece of chocolate cake I found in the toilet?
After the intense meeting my colleague asked if I was okay and I told her the entire situation…. Looking back... I was the person who handed her a piece of shit which she threw into the fan…. The fan being my students whom I loved so much.
This teacher was very anal when it came to having students wear school uniforms and being on time for school…. She had no respect from the students as she would always nag and would call their parents for the most minor of offenses… but it never mattered to her that the students didn't respect her… because she had no respect for others either….
That night in a private chat group with my class she told the students to be on time for school and that they were to bring their textbooks... For Mr Toby is going to leave for another job….
I mean what the hell?
I had never said that I was leaving but this woman had put words into my mouth and terrible thoughts into my students.
And then shit hit the fan…
Many of my students got very emotional and the students had a confessions page on the school. A confessions page was a place where students would write the grievances about the school or issues that they had faced that day. One of my beloved students had gotten so traumatized that he lashed out at the chairman and the school saying that the had earned so much money but they were not willing to pay a little bit extra in order to keep Mr Toby in the school. Then things got from bad to worse as more and more students joined in lashing out with an outpouring of grievances which they had felt by studying at the school.
I received a phone call from a student telling me that this had gone down…. I knew I was in trouble but what could I do….
The next day I was called in for a meeting with the management board of the school and the chairman had been very upset with the accusations the students had thrown at him. My first words were 'I'm sorry for what my student had done, please do not expel him. He had no idea what he was doing and he was reacting emotionally to what he would need to be traumatic news.' those words fell on deaf ears, I was blamed for creating this situation and no matter how much I tried to explain to them they were not willing to listen.
I remember crying and sobbing because I was accused of manipulating my students' emotions, in order to blackmail the school for a higher salary. I would never do something like that and it hurts so much that people would think that I was capable of doing something so heinous.
Then the threats came... Toby, are you going to quit or not? (I knew that this was a passive aggressive means of trying to emotionally blackmail someone into submission…. Culturally I was used to it being Asian myself) however I was never going to allow myself to be threatened especially for something which I had not done…
And so I quit