Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Anti-Taiwan Rant in 3...2...1...

I'm having one of those weeks that the Hess training staff would call "culture shock." I don't know if I even like that term, but I'm having a hell of a time trying to be content with my life right now.

I'm ill with something. Maybe the flu, maybe an upper respiratory infection, maybe something else. I don't know. All I know is that I haven't had any energy or appetite in three days and I've had all kinds of aches and pains. I went to see a doctor yesterday, my first time since I've been in Taiwan. I was initially hesitant to go to the hospital, because everyone has told me that it's such an ordeal. Boy, were they right. After waiting to check in, finding my way to the elusive section 3D, and waiting to get my blood pressure taken, I then waited another couple of hours to see the doctor. Imagine a room full of red faced, runny nosed people, some of whom have the worst hacking-death-rattle of a cough you've ever heard. They are all waiting for their number to show up on the sign next to their assigned doctor's door. My number was 49, and I waited from the number 20. When I finally saw the doctor, he barely checked me out, didn't take my temperature, and didn't even really listen to what I was telling him, but instead suggested symptoms I was having and proclaimed it a viral infection. This whole examination took approximately seven minutes. Ten minutes maximum.

Prescription for God-knows-what in hand, I headed down to the pharmacy to collect my meds, and was again greeted by a long line of sick people. I haven't seen Michael Moore's new movie yet, but it will have to be pretty damning of the American health care system to make me think socialized health care is at all effective after yesterday's ordeal.

So I got home from the hospital and was immediately called in to work. Sure, someone with a viral infection or... whatever can teach a group of kindergarteners, no problem. I also got the news that three of my weekly classes were inexplicably dropped from my schedule, reducing by 24 my monthly hours. Great. After lots of prodding and pleading, I finally got an explanation. I guess I'm not doing as well in my classes as I should be. The only explicit criticism I've gotten yet: I've been teaching too long on my last class of the week (something I was sure I corrected months ago.)

So let's recap. For doing too much, or upsetting a delicate timetable by 10 minutes a week, I received a schedule reduction of roughly 25%, with no explanation given upfront, and no way to argue my case. I'm not only pissed about the reduced number of hours, but also with the total lack of any communication, which I am told is part of Chinese culture. No one will ever tell me that they have a problem with my work or anything. They may mention something in a nice, suggestive way to one of the other teachers that may eventually make its way back around to me, but when I try to ask anyone about these things, I'm always met with this attitude like it's the first time they've ever heard of any problem, and I'm uniformly given the response that they will talk to someone about it.

I hope I can start to be positive soon, or it will make my life here much more difficult than it needs to be.

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Blogger Rich said...

I'm sure that things will improve. Have they reduced your pay correspondingly or just the hours?

Love ya

February 19, 2008 at 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe -- Debs brother was stationed over there for a few years and he noted the same thing you are seeing - no confrontation at any price! Not easy to work with I am sure.
Sorry to hear you are not feeling well. I am sure this too will pass.
We keep you in our prayers
tom and deb

February 19, 2008 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Joe W. (林子宇) said...

Dad - I get paid by the class, I'm not salaried, so any reduction in hours directly correlates to a reduction in wages.

Deb - I'm being patient. Thanks for the encouragement.

February 19, 2008 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Step back for a minute and try to realize your attuitude is partly due to your illness and feeling so crappy. You will still resent the cut in hours but it won't be quite the downer it is now when you feel better.
We love and miss you,

February 21, 2008 at 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe , if things are really bad I know where you can score some raffle tickets that will pay off
50grand. All you have to do is buy a bunch and win and then problems solved.
How that sound for a plan?
How are you feeling now
I expect quick answers since you have more free time.

OK this will cheer you up

Q why was Helen Keller such a bad driver?

A cause she was a woman

That one kills me!!!


February 22, 2008 at 4:16 AM  
Blogger tom said...

Joe -- hello... well.... whats going on ? Feeling any better ? Remember if you come home you will no longer be the tallest guy in the whole country!!
C'mon let us know whats happening!!
Inquiring minds want to know

February 26, 2008 at 5:18 AM  
Blogger Joe W. (林子宇) said...

I'm feeling better. Life is full of ups and downs, and if I'm going to make it to retirement, I have to learn to deal with them. I'm still not 100% content with the way things are, but I've got the patience and fortitude to change it, or at least stick it out. And I'm not just going to give up and come home. I've still got a lot left to experience, and I'm not going to let a few bad experiences spoil a significant period in my life.

February 29, 2008 at 12:17 AM  

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