A Glance Back at Winter

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While my book YEAR AMID WINTER chronicles the time in which I became a TESOL teacher and my first role in Turkey. I look at how demanding the students could and can be, however I only briefly touch on the teachers. Here I give a more in-depth guide to some of the characters you may encounter. TESOL teachers are quite often people who have failed in their chosen or intended careers (normally arts roles such as writer, editor, journalist, designer, musician etc). Your colleagues will come in many shapes and sizes with one thing in common; none of them will be your friend. *note also that they might be any combination of the following. Let’s get started.

THE BOUNCER – The bouncer is from Old England and generally has a cockney accent. Though he is on the large side, he does (at times) have a heart of gold, but you wouldn’t want to argue with him either.

THE PERFORMER – The first of the fake smileys, they will ask what you thought of their teaching style. Just say they were good.

THE DOPEY – This one comes in many forms; male or female. One asked me if I was homosexual purely on the basis I have an English accent! Others can be lovable round figured guys but make no mistake, despite their pleasant demeanour, they are as fake as the rest.

THE SECRET AGENT MAN – He’s young, he’s charismatic and everything is a huge adventure to this one. He plays his cards close to his chest and only reveals what he wants you to see which is never the frightened child he really is.

THE GAMESMAN – This one is really into sport but he doesn’t stop at football or badminton, nope, EVERYTHING is a game including life itself and the people that he chances upon, like the user below, the gamesman’s needs come first.

THE USER – I was going to call this one the Sociopath but that’s a bit too extreme. The User is seemingly friends with everyone yet ultimately no-one. He can reel off the charm with a quick shoulder rub and a ‘Have a wonderful day’ even to people he abhors and will use anyone to get what he wants; be it photos (of himself of course), food or sex. There is only one person the user really likes.. himself.

THE BRAWLING BUDDHIST (a variant of THE CRANKY YANK) – We’ve all encountered the cantankerous middle-aged American guy however this one is really screwed up. One moment he’s a calm sage like creature preaching his religious leanings, the next he’s a raging red neck brawling in a bar. He is cock sure and will often gloat to anyone who will listen (which is most as no-one wants to risk sending him into a frenzied fit!) The best you can do with this ticking time-bomb is listen in the hope he soon disappears!

THE GOLLUM – Imagine the most scrupulous smarmy person and multiply it by 10 and you will come close to this extremely dangerous concoction. I have thus far come across this one twice and each time they’ve proved toxic. The Gollum thrives on gossip and lies, playing everyone against each other. He will think nothing of flapping his lips for what he thinks will make him popular (and because of the nature of the other teachers this usually works). Similar to a sociopath, tread with due caution and say as little as possible.

THE SNEAKY MAPLE – The sneaky is married (albeit to someone that looks like something you’d scrape off a dinner table after a meal) and his job is to go between the teacher and The Gollum who has managed to shoehorn their way into a director’s job with next to no teaching experience. Yet another fake smile best avoided.

THE SEX TOURIST – Beware the sex tourist, he is there for one thing and it isn’t to teach.

And how about myself? THE ECCENTRIC FAILURE or THE SERIAL LOSER perhaps. Do I make mistakes? Of course, loads. So there you have it, a quick guide to why most (semi) sane teachers are looking for the exit sign. A holiday in Alcatraz would be a walk in the park by comparison or at least seem very appealing.

YEAR AMID WINTER is available here http://www.lulu.com/shop/kelvin-hayes/year-amid-winter/ebook/product-22024957.html