Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Tuesday, 24th July

I had to take 23 Chinese students to the cop-shop this morning to register them as ‘friendly aliens’, or whatever they are. I don’t know the city at all, and asked an Indian lady in the street if we were heading in the right direction. ‘I’ll show you’, she said, and so we followed her. As we were parting company, the woman’s little daughter asked her something.

‘Van moment’ her mum said to her. ‘I vill just show uncle the vay.’

Isn’t that nice? It casts me, a stranger, as the woman’s brother and someone whom the little girl can expect to be kind to her. I have been hearing her voice over and over in my head all day: ‘I vill just show uncle the vay’, and thinking how lovely. Most gratifying that although she was a good twenty years younger than me, she didn’t say ‘I vill just show grandfather the way.’ Had she done so, I’d have been pretty pissed off.

‘Uncle’ is probably not a term my Chinese students would apply to me, at least not today. Sorting out their documents and photocopies this morning got me pretty ratty.

‘Can everybody listen?’ I ask.

Conversation in Chinese continues, smart-phones are prodded and farted about with, and I receive all the attention you’d expect from a pig’s arse. I repeat the request in tones just this side of polite, to no effect. I then holler in tones so far to the other side of polite that paying customers such as these might with justice complain they are being insulted. Blinking and resentful they stare at me, the unavuncular, gratifyingly silent nevertheless.

And he spake, saying:

‘We need to photocopy your passports, as you were repeatedly told, but were too busy dicking about with your fucking smart-phones to take any gorm. The photocopier here in the Little CHEF (Centre for Hammering English into Foreigners) is out of toner and useless at this most hectic time of year, because nobody had thought to lay in extra toner until now, and it is apparently released but costively from one of the moons of Jupiter once a quarter or so. We shall therefore proceed to the Wilkins Micawber building, where half of the photocopies will get done before the machine packs up and we will have to troop off to another office to finish the rest, by which time I will be a sweating, bad-tempered bear-with-a-sore-arse and you will treat me with the sort of gruff, convict-like, off-hand compliance I probably deserve. Then an Indian lady in the street will delight me with her turn of phrase, and I will be biddable for the rest of the day. Until I get home and open this e-mail:

Dear all,

I understand that because of problems with procedures and current staffing levels in HR there is a strong possibility that our July pay claims will not be paid until 25th September (instead of 25th August). I think you will all agree that this situation is totally unacceptable, therefore R. has asked the union to deal the issue.

Jesus wept, can you fucking credit it, I bleeding well ask you. God's cock. Then I’ll have a gin and tonic and a glass or two of red and wonder, not for the first time, what the hell I am doing with my life. Right, we're late for the Filth, get fell in.’


In the afternoon, the students worked individually on their essays and presentations as it has become uphill work to interest them in anything not obviously connected with the assessment. I talked to everyone, clearing up misconceptions, suggesting approaches, pointing out that they really do not have the leisure to spend the session chatting to their friends in Chinese on networking sites. It was worrying that so many of them thought they did. It is also worrying that so many of them have ignored the ban on use of all but a prescribed handful of websites as source material; they are not yet in a position to distinguish authoritative information from horse shit, and there's no shortage of that on the web. It was also rather worrying that some of them have adopted a Young Earth Creationist approach to research, writing their essays first and then casting about for evidence to shore up their foregone conclusions. Aw, sod it - this is not the Real University, it's just an ante-room. If they can cobble together a reasonably coherent effort after a week's input, that will have to do. We have another six hours today, so roll on five o' clock. 


Candy said...

Hallo uncle. What a nice tihng.....
I can't compete in the crap day stakes though. Mine was just another in a seemingly endless monotony of "work - email-phone-email-explain - email-phone - home". I'm too fed up to get in a strop or to care really. The black dog isn't circling, but there seems to be a cold grey fog settling over everything and creeping into all the corners of my mind.

Vilges Suola said...

Mine has been a long sweaty slog with uncooperative Chinese sts - they can be so RUDE in the way they ignore thigs I'm trying to convey... I have to get all school masterly.

Can you believe these bastards announcing so casually that they won't bloody pay us until September? Like it's our fault HR has staffing problems cos half the buggers have fucked off on holiday.

Candy said...

It's unconscionable, but who will stop them? It makes me so wild - basic honourability and shared human feeling has gone. I have no clue where it will all end,
I LOATHE big corporates and their cavalier treatment of anyone else. It is tantamount to bullying. Bastards. If they aren't throwing out information casually - er let's not cloak here - dismissively, there are scantily veiled threats "Do it my way or fuck off." God I need to win the lottery.......

But I do know that finding someone unexpectedly who calls you "uncle" can make up for it somewhat as one desperately clings to a fragile hope of mattering to someone somewhere.

So are they seriously NOT going to pay you until September? No point in asking if that's legal. Who cares?

Vilges Suola said...

We await developments. I don't see how they can get away with it, but I'm optimistic, for a cynical old fart.

maria verivaki said...

θείο vs παππούλη - you should be thankful!
very entertaining post today - fits in well with the olympics opening ceremony (where i felt that only frank spencer was missing)

Vilges Suola said...

Thanks. I feel I'm still in the running...


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