Job Hunt

A couple of weeks ago Bella, and I decided we were going to go to another city to have a job interview. There were several factors motivating us to do this, but the main one was the company where we are currently working told us one thing about my next contract when we talked about the future last year, and when we were negotiating the contract they told me a substantially different thing. The thing they clearly told me last year (I wrote it down), was met with, “That is not possible with this company, you are mistaken.” When I told her exactly what she said last year, she didn’t respond, and said, “This is what we are offering you, take it if you want.”

Take it I would not. So, I threw a resume up on a job hunt site, and found a few offers I was interested in looking at further. The one in the other city would provide a little more than what I had been falsely promised here, so I decided it was the one to follow. Included in the contract was a very large house (4000 sq. ft.) with a private yard. This sounded good. The pay was right, the schedule was right, and the classes sounded pleasant as well. All said, they offered me the job over email, and we accepted. We were ready for me to sign the contract, and move there in the fall, giving our resignation for the second half of our current deal here.

“We will send the contract tomorrow.” Then tomorrow we received a request to come visit. “The headmaster wants you to do a sample class for the high school to be sure you are suitable,” they said. They paid the hotel, and we paid the train tickets, off we went to the most polluted city in China.

We were taken to the hotel, endured a meal in a restaurant where the goal was to wow us with their hospitality (I do not enjoy these showy meals, but when in China one must participate in them from time to time). After the meal, we went to see the house… The house was actually a mansion sized duplex. The large yard was being used by our neighbours to be, the Clampetts. They had geese trying to make more noise than their dogs, trying to make more noise than their generator pumping the water to water the garden which covered 90% of the non-cemented ground. The large, jumbo picture window at the front of our half of the house had a large crack in it, with a chunk of glass missing from the top corner. This was not mentioned as something to be fixed. Inside the house was covered by a good 2 inches of dirt, with shuffle trails through it where the people who were living there had been going from room to room. There were about 12 pieces of furniture for the whole house including the broken ping pong table. It was an unattractive house they were trying to sell us on the whole time. We smiled, we nodded, but we didn’t bite. They saw our dislike of the house, and the offer was made, “We can get you an apartment instead. However, you will need to pay the internet/power/gas bill there.”

The class was great fun, and while I know they assembled the best, and brightest to be in the classroom, I was impressed by their communication skills. I am used to teaching primary school, so it was nice to have a conversation beyond, “Hi! What can you see?!?”

The city wasn’t wooing us at all. We were both of the mindset, “Meh, a year, maybe two, then we will be out of here.” They took us out for another ceremonial meal for supper. This is where the road started really becoming rocky. I noticed for about 20-30 minutes they were talking to XiuXiu in Chinese, and the words, “Shawn/Canada,” kept coming up. I assumed at first it was just about travel, but that long seemed like something else. XiuXiu’s face was getting more agitated by the conversation as time went on, but she wouldn’t tell me what they were talking about there because everyone spoke English, we wouldn’t have our normal cone of silence when we talk.

The goodbyes were said, and they pointed us back to the hotel with, “Assuming the headmaster signs off on it, everyone was happy with your performance here today. I am certain the position is yours. I must leave early tomorrow morning, I will leave the contract with the hotel’s front desk if it is a yes.” We were glad for the short walk back to the hotel. It was the first privacy we had enjoyed all day.

I asked her, “What was the conversation about, ‘Shawn, and Canada?” She said, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Which of course means we are going to need to talk about it. Short story of the conversation, they spent 30 minutes trying to get her to admit she married me so she could get Canadian citizenship. “Marrying Shawn increased your value to a half a million dollars,” they told her in reference to her ability to get Canadian citizenship much more easily now. Even though she protested the whole time, they would not let go of their theory. When she said, “I married for love,” they said, “Nobody marries for love, they marry for what they can get out of a relationship.”

Morning came with the contract at the front desk, and neither of us were excited at the idea of moving there anymore. What to do, what to do. XiuXiu came up with the best idea, “Call the boss of the company, and tell him I would like to stay in my hometown, but Shawn is set on moving because he is angry about the boldfaced mistruth he was told about future contracts. If he was interested in keeping us there, then he would have to offer us more.” She made the call, “Shawn has a contract in hand, blah, blah, etc, your call.”

“No problem,” he said,  “the new contract will be waiting at your home this week.” We told the school we had interviewed with there we wanted to think about things. “Thank you, blah, blah. We will let you know in a few days after we process the weekend.” This of course was polite code for, “Assuming we get the contract we were offered, we won’t be moving here, sorry.” The contract came, it was signed, and we are sticking around XiuXiu’s hometown for a couple more years.

It is funny to think of how the weekend swayed things. Had they not insisted on us coming to visit, we would have gladly signed the contract over the internet with them for fall. It took things from us sure/them unsure, to them sure/us unsure. Knowing we had a new contract in hand moved the owner of our current company from unwilling to negotiate to why don’t I honour the foreign teacher supervisor’s word from last year.

*Some of you may be saying, “How can you trust what they said this time with the new contract? They lied before.” You are right, they lied before, but it was one of the managers who lied to me, not the owner. China likes saving face, and XiuXiu told me if the owner was planning on lying to us he would have had the manager call us back with an offer. Then he could say she made a mistake. XiuXiu said he wouldn’t lie to us directly because it would make him lose face. Lies/Mistruths are filtered through others so the blame can be placed elsewhere.

Wedding Registry

Greetings all! We are very happy you will be joining us for our wedding reception in Moncton, NB on July 16! We look forward to sharing this celebration with you all!

As most of you know, we live in China. In China (at least in our neck of the woods) there are no wedding registry options. Due to the cost of shipping items from Canada to China, we have opted out of the registry in Canada. What we are doing instead is a registry for items to be purchased when we return to China.

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We cannot buy a kitchen pantry cabinet like this here, but we can get one made.
It will cost $120 to have it built.

We are also in need of some dishes for the kitchen. We decided we didn’t like the look of the dishes on the internet because we couldn’t feel the weight, and quality. We will be shopping for these in the city, because there is a very limited selection in our  small town. We will be shopping for these

The other option is a gift towards our trip to Canada for Bella (Xiu Xiu) to meet the family. We are visiting the East Cost for the months of July, and August.

Stupid Foreigner!

Earlier tonight I had a phone call from a number I didn’t know. Usually they are advertisements I don’t understand, but I decided to answer this one. This was a mistake. Buddy started his spiel, and at the first comma in his speech I interrupted, “I don’t speak Chinese, can I help you?” Apparently he has an issue with English, because he lost his mind at me when I spoke to him in English. He shouted into the phone, “Stupid foreigner, you are worthless to me!” Then he hung up on me.

I may be living in China, but you called my phone. Just another day in the life, just another day. 😐

Stop Spitting on the Floor!

I repeatedly have to tell this kids in my classes, “No spitting on the floor!” Today I heard one kid working a big snot ball out, “Snort,hock, hock, hock, hock.” I looked at him, and he knew I was going to growl if he spit it on the floor, but I was already all prepared in his mouth to spit. So he did what any of us would do, he pulled open the neck of his shirt, and spit it inside his shirt. He then patted his shirt against himself, and smiled at me to say, “See, I am well behaved.”

Canada, Reach Out in Love to Refugees

So much hate towards refugees online lately.
“Government’s giving refugees too much money, rawr rawr rawr.”
CBC (and others) debunked this rumour about big money for refugees, showing it to be at best a foolish mistake (at worst a purposeful lie).
“Rawr, rawr, rawr, CBC is kissing the Liberal Party’s brains out, defending, other foolishness. I didn’t see them defending Stephen Harper when he did the thing he was accused of doing.”
Here’s the thing, nobody who is correcting the (very) wrong math on what refugees receive (for their first year) in Canada to protect the government. They are trying to curtail the hatefulness being thrown in the direction of the refugees (and there is plenty of it being thrown). Refugees who are screened, rescreened, referred, and then scrutinized further to be able to come to Canada.
Canada is not a Christian country. It is not Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Zoroastrian, Judaic, or any other religion. It is free for all religions. Canada is not a whites only country, and it is not a country where the shade of one’s skin should denote the trustworthiness of an individual. It is a country where everyone has equal worth as a human being.
Most of the rhetoric floating around can be sourced back to the idea, “Make me comfortable, or get out.” If you are uncomfortable with the idea of “those foreigners” becoming residents, and eventually Canadian citizens, tough luck. That’s how Canada works. Thankfully popular opinion doesn’t (shouldn’t) dictate how Canada treats people who are different than those in the popular opinion camp. What a hell hole Canada would be if we let the loudest decide how we treat the world’s most vulnerable.
Embrace our new neighbours. Welcome them to Canada. Show them love, warmth, kindness, friendship, caring, and all the other things Canada has in abundance. Bring them (halal if they are muslim) food, help with clothes. Offer help with child care, think of other needs to fill, bring them into the community, and let them know they are a welcome part of it.
Canada, don’t become a nation of bigots who pepper spray our guests (whether literal, or with your online rhetoric). Be everything the hell of war they escaped is not. Be the very best of Canada.

Not gonna tell me what to do…

… and vice versa. 

Living in another country can always lead to some entertaining, frustrating, or absurd situations. One of the “norms” in the culture in my small town (and China as a whole so I’ve been told) is the gal tells her fellow what to do. 

It isn’t a discussion, or a debate, just a simple, “You’s my man, now jump.” However, Bella doesn’t treat me like this. We have a back, and forth. I don’t make her decisions, and she doesn’t make mine. 

Now, as I have mentioned before, I live in an area with a population of 1,000,000 people. There are only two registered foreigners here. If someone wants the foreign monkeys to dance to draw attention to their school (whatever) the pickings are slim. 

Bella got a call the other day from one of her teachers from her school days. Her teacher was hitting the guilt, favour, respect train hard. “Bella,” he said, “you’re with the foreigner now, right? So, I need you to get him to come teach classes on Friday evenings at a small countryside school.” The intention was Bella would be embarrassed to say no, so he didn’t call to talk to me about it with her translating, he called to set up the whole thing so I would have no say in the matter. 

I have been made aware of this (my word) manipulation. I don’t care for it really. As I said before, we don’t make each other’s decisions. The old, “ask the girl to force the boy,” routine isn’t gonna fly here. It isn’t even gonna leap over tall buildings. 

She politely said, “I’ll have to ask him A. if he wants to, and B. how much he would want to charge.” Her former teacher’s response, “Why would you need to ask him? Just tell him he is doing it, and tell me how much you want him to charge (hoping for a price similar to hiring a local teacher rather than a foreigner).” Bella once again told him how I work, and she would have to call back. 

At first Bella was a little shy about answering for me like this, but it easier now because I have started her on the habit of making an obscene number of “he” statements. Her main concern was people would think she was talking. When it’s me, I have a bit more wiggle room to say nope. At least I take a little more wiggle room. 

“Donation” Day with the Police

The cops were out in full force today in my town. It is the biweekly (sometimes monthly) street cleanup. They drive up, and down the streets grabbing all the stuff people are selling on the sidewalks. 
The people aren’t allowed to set up shop on the sidewalks, they just do it anyways. They do their best to make a getaway when the cops are coming, but they don’t always make it, especially some of the older people. 

The police truck rolls down the street while 3, or 4 cops walk along on both sides grabbing bags full of watermelons, and knick knacks, trinkets, toys, and veggies. Once they grab them, they toss them into the back of the truck. 

Now for the shakedown. The people have lost their stuff, this is already done. This is why they just bring an acceptable amount of stuff to be lost (cost of doing business). Some people are selling cooked food, and those people have equipment for cooking. After the cops grab their food, and toss it into the back of the truck, they offer a deal. The deal is simple, pay us a “donation,” and we’ll leave your equipment in one piece. No donation, we will smash the living crap out of it on the sidewalk. 

Some people have the money to pay the donation, some people don’t, and you get to see them go Conan the Librarian on people’s equipment. If they pay the donation, then they will leave your equipment alone. 

Should be another show first part of October.