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Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Bad Moon Rising a short story by Leighton Travels.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

After a prolonged period of stability, I finally bid Belgium farewell in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and traveling.


I can pinpoint the exact moment our seemingly idyllic teaching jobs began to unravel. It wasn’t an earth-shattering incident, but it did represent the tumbling of the first domino. Setting in motion a string of bizarre events that would ultimately sour our Beijing dream. “I need speak to you guys” said Lily one afternoon.

We had gathered around the kitchen counter at school in the prep hour before lessons. “What’s up Lily?” “Today is my last day, I’m leaving”. Lily was S’s teaching assistant. The two got on famously, much more than Nini and I, with our endless miscommunications. “I have three jobs,” explained Lily, eyes to the floor. “I am working from 9 in morning until 9… 10 at night. I so tired… can’t do anymore. Also, this job is so far from my house”.

Remembering our friend Lily.

Lily at school, November 2009.

I felt sorry for Lily. The poor girl worked her socks off to earn what I knew was a terrible salary. It was also a shame for S, who was losing a good assistant and a friend. “Yes, is a pity!” said Trudy, somewhat absently. “But don’t worry, I already have interviews for a new assistant. There are some excellent candidates”.

Remembering lost friends Bad Moon Rising a short story from China.

Lily with S’s student Bill.

Lily’s “excellent” replacement turned out to be a nineteen-year old girl who called herself “Water”. Having asked Nini to now work with S, Trudy told me that Water would be my assistant. I remember feeling quite hopeful, a sentiment that was soon to be… dampened… if you’ll excuse the pun. “Hello Water, how are you?” I said on her first day. “I nineteen” she replied, with a wide smile.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Short stories from China

“This is Water!” I told my students. “Naaaaah!” giggled Krista dismissively, while Max shot me a disbelieving look that suggested he thought I was pulling their legs. In a break between lessons, I finally confronted the elephant in the room. “So why are you called Water?” I enquired. “You wanna water?” she responded, with furrowed eyebrows. “No… YOUR name is Water… why?”

“I like drink water! And is easy for kids remember!”

Bad Moon Rising a short story from China.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

The classes did not go well. As awkward as my relationship with Nini had been, she at least stayed in the background. Only swooping in to translate something, or bringing order when the kids got too rowdy. Unfortunately, Water was right in my face throughout each class, parroting every single thing I uttered back to the kids. It was both annoying and unnecessary. 

Furthermore, her terrible pronunciation only served to confuse the kids. “Ok guys turn to page twenty!” “Oooh-key geese turn-a to paysh twain-tee”. Water then began turning the pages for them, student by student. “Err Water, don’t do that please. They can turn the pages themselves”.

Water and Teddy Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

Water with Teddy, November 2009.

She also insisted on providing them with the answers to my questions. “What’s the day today Jack?” I’d ask. If he didn’t respond in precisely 1.2 seconds Water would enlighten him in Chinese. I kept telling her to stop repeating me and to give the kids time to think. But she ignored me, or maybe just didn’t understand . 

Eventually, I lost patience with her and somewhat angrily told her to be quiet. Water was not impressed. Glaring at me with folded arms, she retreated to the corner of the room and remained silent for the rest of the class. 

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

By the end of our first week together I was pulling my hair out. One afternoon I handed Water a worksheet and asked her if she could make some copies. She came back five minutes later with a cup of black coffee.

During class, whenever she spoke, it took me five minutes to repair the linguistic damage she’d done. For reasons unknown, she also sat in on my lessons with Happy, who clearly spoke better English than she did. In fact, he ended up correcting her a couple of times.

“What do you think about Water?” Trudy asked one day. Unable to hold back, I told her exactly what I thought. “Please try harder with her” replied Trudy impassively. “She has good attitude and is cheap. You know, it’s difficult to find a good teaching assistant”.

Grace and Water Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

Grace ignoring Water.

S and I arrived at work one day to find a tall Chinese man sitting in the kitchen reading a children’s book. Lifting his head, he smiled politely, but declined to introduce himself. Sometime later, Trudy popped her head into my classroom.

“Leighton, so sorry to disturb you. I want you meet David”.

“Hello I’m David,” said David with a courteous, Davidly nod. “David and I studied together at Wall Street English. You know Leighton…. at the moment my school losing a lot of money. So from today David will be my marketing expert!” From across the counter I could see poor old Water trying to follow the conversation. Her head bobbing up and down, a picture of bottled incomprehension. 

The marketing expert Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

David the marketing expert.

From that day onwards, David the marketing expert came to school every day. For the most part he sat on the kitchen counter reading a book. Sometimes, he’d be resting on the sofa reading the same book. From time to time, I’d arrive to find him pacing up and down with his hands behind his back. Another afternoon that same book sent him into a sofa nap.

Marketing skills.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

When Trudy came, she and David would disappear off into her office for long, noisy conversations. From what I could gather, these chats were ninety five per cent Trudy, three per cent silence, two per cent David. One day he asked me if he could observe one of my classes. Sitting silently at the back of the room playing with his phone, he couldn’t have paid less attention to what was happening. After a while, he simply got up and walked out without a word.

“Look what David made!”

announced Trudy, bursting into my classrooms with an armful of leaflets. “Oh great!” I cooed, with what I hoped was the required amount of enthusiasm. The leaflets looked ok I supposed. There was a picture of the school, which was good. However, there were also several blonde-haired, blue-eyed children reading from a Roald Dahl book. Which seemed highly misleading.

David on the sofa Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

David: quite literally part of the furniture.

I was wondering what the next step would be in David’s fierce marketing revolution. A week went by, during which absolutely nothing happened. There he was, reading on the sofa. Reading in the kitchen. And, judging by the amount of time he spent in the restroom, reading on the toilet. One time I actually caught him staring at one of the walls. After a while he gently rubbed the paintwork with his finger, quietly humming to himself.

Handsome, polite and well dressed, David seemed like a nice guy. I just couldn’t for the life of me work out what his purpose was. Following the mastermind leaflet idea, I could only speculate what he was working on now. I also found myself pondering why he was at school ALL the time doing diddly squat. And just how much money Trudy was paying him for his dubious services. 

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Bad Moon Rising a short story from China.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

In any case David proved very popular with Nini and Water, who worked themselves into a giggling fit whenever he made his daily approach. “David is come!” shrieked Water, biting her lip. He’d been part of the furniture for around a month when Trudy announced that some of our students would be taking part in MOMA’s annual art competition.

The event was scheduled for a Sunday afternoon. Everyone who lived in MOMA could take part, while an old art professor was coming to judge the kids’ work. “This will be excellent for our school,” grinned Trudy, David nodding obediently from the sofa.

MOMA art competition Beijing Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

MOMA Art Competition. November 2009.

The art competition turned out to be lots of fun. There were kids of all ages everywhere. They drew and painted, doodled and sketched. The professor, a softly spoken old man, shuffled around from kid to kid mumbling unheard scraps of advice. All the while, Trudy dripped all over the parents. “You know, this painting is by a student from my school!” 

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Working for Trudy Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

Trudy, November 2009.

David handed out the leaflets. Once they were gone, he reverted to his default position of doing nothing. Indeed he chose to remove himself from the main action, standing away from the art tables with his hands behind his back. With my own role for the day equally undefined, I decided to join him and have a chat. The perfect opportunity, I hoped, to glean some information. 

“Now I am finish my degree in administration,” he explained.

“But I am also very interested in marketing. So for me this is good experience, it’s very kind of Trudy to let me learn”. It was at this moment that I realised Trudy wasn’t paying him anything.

Bad Moon rising by Leighton Travels

David in stealth mode.

At the end of November we finally gave up on our shitty apartment and told the agency they needed to move us. We’d invested so much time and money in trying to make the place work. But when the boiler died on us for the third time in two weeks, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Hearing of our predicament, Trudy told us about an apartment for rent in MOMA. The joint was literally fifty steps from the school. Trudy was very keen for us to move into MOMA and quickly set about making it happen. Dealing with the landlady on our behalf, she negotiated the monthly rent and deposit. All I had to do was sign on the dotted line. Bundling all our stuff into a taxi, we made the short move one frantic evening after classes. 

Bad Moon Rising a short story from China by Leighton Travels.

“Taxiii!” Shangdi style.

The new place was an incredible upgrade, a spacious, modern, temperature-controlled apartment with an elevator that opened into our own private hallway. We’d really landed on our feet and knew that we owed it all to Trudy. As a result, I wanted to work even harder to make her school a success. But unfortunately, my loyalty was about to be severely tested.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

MOMA complex apartment Shangdi Beijing

Our lovely MOMA apartment.

It was sometime during the first week of December that David failed to show up at school. He didn’t come the next day either, nor the day after that. “Where’s David?” I asked, but Trudy was vague in her response. “Oh, he is busy now with his study” she muttered, dismissively. “Maybe not come back for a while”. We never saw him again.

As the weeks passed, Trudy became more and more withdrawn. She no longer bounced into school and there was generally much less camaraderie. I had been discreetly trying to move Water further into the background. One afternoon, before my private class with Happy, I told her she didn’t need to come, that she could just relax. She obviously told Trudy about this, as the next day I got my orders. 

“Leighton… Water must be in your class every lesson. She need help you with everything”.

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

With Christmas approaching, S and I set to work planning a yuletide extravaganza. Using our Halloween success as a blueprint, we created flashcards, colouring sheets, a YouTube playlist and a homemade board game. Trudy bought a Christmas tree and asked us if we could make decorations for the school.

The blow of actually having to teach on Christmas day was softened when Trudy revealed her plan to throw a Christmas party. “It will be a big banquet!” she said, revealing that everyone in MOMA could come, regardless of whether their kids attended the school.

“Maybe you can do another play!” she laughed, clapping her hands together.

The nightmare before Christmas Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

The nightmare before Christmas.

We spent the better part of a week knocking out handcrafted decorations. Naturally there were a few hiccups along the way. Nini had no clue what reindeers or mince pies were, while Water was surprised to learn that Christmas trees aren’t typically purple. And that it wasn’t appropriate for Saint Nick to be dressed up like a gay super villain. “Only ray (red) and wai (white)?” she asked, incredulous.

Christmas decoration making.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

By the time we were done there were posters everywhere, snowmen stencils on the windows and scattered bunches of bells and holly. We were feeling pretty pleased with our efforts, until S discovered several rows of her paper chains were missing.

“They’re just gone?!?” she said, utterly perplexed, Nini and Water shrugging uselessly in the background. “Have you seen the paper chains?” she asked Trudy. “Oh… I moved them” came her distant reply. After a bit of digging around, S found them screwed up in the bin outside.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Celebrating Christmas in Beijing.

My student Adam digging the school Christmas tree.

A few days later, a tired looking Trudy shuffled through the front door and joined us all at the kitchen counter. “The Christmas party is cancelled” she stated. “Maybe we do next year. Don’t worry…. this will not affect my business”.

Totally baffled, I waited until the end of classes that evening to find out more. “Trudy, why is the party cancelled?” “No reason” she replied. And that, it seemed, was the end of the conversation.

Dreaming of a White Christmas.

“I’m… dreaming… of… a… cancelled… Christmas”.

The week before Christmas saw the arrival of another new staff member. This time it was a young girl who stationed herself in the play area, where she spent her shifts leafing through course books and fiddling with the toys.  

“I have no idea!” whispered Nini, when I asked who she was. I tried to introduce myself, but the girl didn’t speak a word of English. “She is Emma, ma (my) fren (friend)” explained Water. “Yes, Emma is our new assistant”, Trudy told me, a few days later. “She responsible for the play area. Look after kids outside class, tidy up toys”.

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Staring at the walls Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

Emma staring at the Christmas decorations. For a long, long time.

Just a few days before Christmas, Trudy hit us with a bombshell. It was a Friday afternoon, half an hour before my first lesson. “I have bad news,” she said, clearing her throat. “Some parents…. um… not satisfied with the teaching”.  “Oh?” I replied, S and I exchanging alarmed glances. 

“I receive feedback that S pronunciation is not good”.

“And Leighton, your lesson sometime boring!”

These revelations felt like an almighty slap in the face. As shocked and bewildered as I was, I tried to stay calm, asking Trudy for clarification. I had so many questions it was hard to know where to begin. What exactly was the problem with S’s pronunciation? What parts of my class were boring? Who had the feedback come from? Each and every day my classes included songs, games, role-plays, treasure hunts, drawing, colouring and more. I felt so confused. 

Merry Christmas from Louis and Tim Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

Tim and Louis. Quite possibly “bored” in class.

As disappointing as Trudy’s disclosures had been, it was nothing compared to the barrage of nonsense that followed. The complaints, she told us, had come anonymously from a group of local mothers who’d formed an online chat group. These mothers hadn’t actually been into our classes, which led me to speculate whether a child had even complained. Was it possible that a four year old was expressing concerns over his teacher’s pronunciation?

“I think you are not doing your best” continued Trudy. “Yesterday I hear S say the word cat in class. I feel… something wrong. Leighton, maybe you spend too much time repeat words, kids can feel boring. I’m sorry, my English is not good enough to explain”.  

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Bad Moon Rising a a short story from Shangdi Beijing

“caaaat”? “cot”? “kit” “coot”?

We tried to get Trudy to see reason. To explain that repetition was an essential component of language acquisition and that there was nothing wrong with the way S said cat. But we were banging our heads against the wall. The final insult came when Trudy told us she had emailed the agency about her concerns! And that Maggie would be in touch with us shortly. This was the last thing we needed, what a mess. 

A very crappy Christmas Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

Bad Moon Rising, a short story from China.

Just moments after our awful meeting, I had to put on a Santa costume and sing Christmas carols with the kids. Nini, who could see something was wrong, asked me what was happening. When I told her, she shook her head knowingly.  I’m sorry” she said, “I expect this”. “Why?” I answered, with a horrible feeling that the plot was about to thicken. “You know, Water is a spy! She watch everything and report back to Trudy… make trouble”.

A spy in the school Bad Moon Rising a short story from China

Water weaving her evil ways in class.

“Mr. Leighton! Jingle bells again!” whooped Justin manically, before performing a sudden karate kick on Jack. Removing my Santa beard, I sighed and sat down at the table as Nini looked on anxiously. “Please don’t tell anyone I told you!” she pleaded. It was Christmas and suddenly I wanted to be anywhere but this classroom… this school… this city… this country.

‘Bad Moon Rising’ is the thirteenth chapter of my short story series Challenged in China.

I’ve also written hundreds of travel reports from all across China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • anoush

    What a sudden turn of fortune! Trudy certainly did show a different face. To go ahead and email your agency before even talking to you about the ‘issues’ is quite a drastic move. Between Water and David, it’s a wonder that the school survived. I also have to question the wisdom of hiring a person with zero English abilities to play with kids in an English language centre. Perhaps Emma too was cheap!

    August 23, 2023 - 3:48 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Yes, this whole mess did come somewhat out of the blue. But then later I thought about those weeks leading up to it and realised that gradually things had gotten more and more dysfunctional. Totally agree about English being ever-present throughout the school among all staff members. But hey, Trudy never really took on other ideas, she just did what she wanted. Thanks for reading, Anoush!

      August 23, 2023 - 3:58 pm Reply
  • christinenovalarue


    August 23, 2023 - 3:51 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    Ouch. Trudy should have been named Missmanagement. Looks like she did not have a clue how to run this enterprise or any other nor did she really care. She only saw $. As to David, hmmmm, there to siphon money off before the whole thing collapsed. The whole thing must have felt so frustrating and out of your control Leighton. Thanks for the tale. Allan

    August 23, 2023 - 5:05 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      She was a bit clueless Allan, you’re right. But unfortunately she was the worst kind of clueless in that she was absolutely sure of herself. Here’s a massive spoiler for the future short story series that I have not yet written: “I can’t believe I actually returned to work for her a few years later!” Now wait a second before your palm hits your face, I had my reasons ha ha.

      August 23, 2023 - 6:02 pm Reply
      • kagould17

        As Homer Simpson would say…..Dohhhhhh!

        August 24, 2023 - 12:53 am
  • Diana

    Wow, what a mess. It’s so sad that it’s all so dysfunctional and that the children will be the ones who suffer the consequences of this. I’m sorry you had to go through this.

    August 23, 2023 - 5:06 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Diana, it was one of those situations where it was really crap and stressful at the time but amusing to look back on. When all was said and done, I really learned a lot about myself, Chinese culture and let’s just say people in general!

      August 23, 2023 - 6:08 pm Reply
  • Memo

    What a cliff hanger! A spy in your midst. Not just Water but more like the Big Muddy. Too bad you never got to do your Christmas play but it might have been hard to top the Witch and the banana peel. The Christmas tree reminded me of the little tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Hate having vague accusations from anonymous sources. I look forward to more.

    August 23, 2023 - 5:50 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, I loved that Charlie Brown special! Yeah, maybe it was for the best about the Christmas play. Thanks for your enthusiasm Memo, especially as I’m aware you already know how everything turns out.

      August 23, 2023 - 6:06 pm Reply
  • Mallee Stanley

    I wish every teacher who thought of teaching in China would read this.

    August 23, 2023 - 6:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha, I think it might be helpful actually! I’m sure in terms of communication and the way schools are run, much of this story still has relevance today. Thanks for popping in, Mallee.

      August 23, 2023 - 6:05 pm Reply
      • Mallee Stanley

        I was thinking more along the lines—I think I’ll try a different country

        August 24, 2023 - 6:46 pm
  • Toonsarah

    What a mess! And after things had been going so well too, although there were signs Trudy wasn’t the best at managing the business. Of course I’m curious to hear what happened next …

    August 23, 2023 - 6:18 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It was a big old mess, no doubts about it. All will be revealed in the closing two chapters of this segment of the series. Thanks for keeping up with it Sarah.

      August 23, 2023 - 6:25 pm Reply
      • Toonsarah

        Looking forward to those closing chapters!

        August 23, 2023 - 6:31 pm
  • Monkey's Tale

    Sounds like a disaster and you found yourselves in the middle. Maybe lucky to get out when you did.

    August 23, 2023 - 7:02 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Well, we didn’t exactly get out early. I pretty much finished my contract, staying until the following summer. And then, a few years later, I went back to work for Trudy. Which I know sounds like madness, but I had my reasons!

      August 23, 2023 - 8:07 pm Reply
      • Monkey's Tale

        It does sound like madness. I guess you never learned!! 😊

        August 23, 2023 - 9:34 pm
  • Travels Through My Lens

    What an incredibly frustrating situation! Trudy seems to be clueless when it comes to administration and management. It sounds like you and S put your hearts and souls into teaching the kids, and for Trudy to criticize you both was just vindictive. And the situation with David was so bizarre. I’m on pins and needles to hear the rest of the story.

    August 23, 2023 - 9:04 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Tricia, I knew plenty of readers would have my back ha ha. I used to get so annoyed at the sight of David every day lounging around doing nothing. They were such weird times, I hope you enjoy the concluding chapters of this saga.

      August 23, 2023 - 9:32 pm Reply
  • salsaworldtraveler

    The job of teaching English is a lot harder than I’d imagined. My hat’s off to you for your effort and the crap you had to deal with.

    August 24, 2023 - 1:41 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I think the actual job of teaching in the classroom was the easiest part! (bar my sessions with the terrible trio). It was all the “crap” as you so eloquently and accurately put it that was draining. All so silly and unnecessary, she literally created a bunch of problems where none existed. Thanks for following along John!

      August 24, 2023 - 9:06 am Reply

    This is fabulous writing, Leighton. I am with you and feeling for you and S with every passing move, conversation and disappointment. I can just sense how you were feeling, so much enthusiasm and effort and now becoming the scapegoat for the failings of others. Those storm clouds are certainly gathering now…

    August 24, 2023 - 2:08 am Reply
    • Leighton

      It seemed a bit like the end of the world at the time. But looking back now the whole thing was little more than a silly, unimportant soap opera. Just one more chapter to round of this segment of the series and I shall return to the concluding batch (which has us back on the road) later in the year. Thanks for keeping up with the series.

      August 24, 2023 - 9:13 am Reply
  • Lookoom

    As negative as this experience was, it certainly taught you about human nature and Chinese behaviour.

    August 24, 2023 - 2:51 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Definitely. The ultimate life lesson and opportunity for personal growth and all that. Thanks for checking in!

      August 24, 2023 - 9:16 am Reply
  • Anna

    Oh man what a shit show!!! Looking forward to the next instalment now!

    August 24, 2023 - 3:23 am Reply
    • Leighton

      The Shit Show, a short story from China. Man, that would have worked pretty well.

      August 24, 2023 - 9:18 am Reply
      • Anna

        You can use that for the next instalment!

        August 24, 2023 - 1:25 pm
  • qprgary

    Patience of a saint mate I would have throttled someone at a very early stage. Had the same problem with anything ending in s (plural) and having to put in pro nouns when in Vietnam. Was glad to leave the Far East

    August 24, 2023 - 11:14 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Plurals an third person verbs are a major issue for most English language students and non-native speakers in general. Even today teaching Chinese kids online I spend half my days drilling those s’s until I start to sound like Sir Hiss the snake from Disney’s Robin Hood. Thanks for dropping in Gary.

      August 25, 2023 - 10:37 am Reply
  • bronlima

    I guess it’s Water under the bridge now! Great to see you in Sevan. Now back in London for a few days before continuing travels. Seriously behind with all WordPress things, but had a very enjoyable time in Armenia and Georgia. Say hello to Jimi when you go to that little restaurant again.

    August 24, 2023 - 12:31 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I can’t believe nobody pounced on the “Water under the bridge” gag before you. It was great to meet up with you in Sevan, Geoff. Have a blast in old London and a safe flight back to Peru.

      August 24, 2023 - 12:58 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    Oh but Leighton … copy sounds so much like coffee 😄. And David (think how confused he would have been if you told him your name is also David)! At first I thought David might be the spy … but there Water proves once again how it works in real life: It’s the ones who say (know) the least that always cause trouble. It’s for them that you always have to be careful of! What a horrible run up to Christmas 😦.

    August 24, 2023 - 1:35 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      David would have been a good candidate for the spy, you’re right. So I guess that could be interpreted as a “twist” that it was Water ha ha. It was the very crappest build up to Christmas, absolutely. Thanks for keeping up with the tales Corna, I am off to make a cup of copy.

      August 24, 2023 - 2:19 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    I felt let down by the frustration you expressed in your post, Leighton. Workplace politics is the worst thing, and I can only imagine how it must’ve been with a language barrier. The kids obviously adored you, but you were sabotaged. How sad when you’re doing a great job. My evil side hopes that Justin karate kicked Water. I will be waiting anxiously for the next chapter.

    August 24, 2023 - 10:21 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha I’m picturing Justin doing his worst on Water. I actually think Justin, Jack and Tom would have made much better bodyguards than students. I can feel your sympathy, empathy, anger frustration and all the rest of it coming off the page on my behalf Kellye. Thanks for the read and the always excellent feedback.

      August 25, 2023 - 10:33 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    As I read this, I was horrified to see how everything unfolded. It’s a miracle you stayed in such a shoddily-run school for the amount of time, as it was filled with disorganization, language barriers, and sus employers (bar you and S). Water was truly not great at her work, nor a good person, that little snitch! Any case, I can’t wait to see how the rest unravels…I hope you got out of there soon thereafter!

    August 25, 2023 - 3:02 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Not only did I complete my contract at the school, but a few years later I actually returned to work for Trudy! Seeing this written in the cold light of day, I wouldn’t be surprised if you called the men in whole coats to take me away. But there was some logic and context to that decision, which I guess will be revealed in an as yet unwritten short story series. Thanks for the empathy Rebecca and for keeping up with the series 🙂

      August 25, 2023 - 10:30 am Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    With a name like “Water”, you already know it’s already going to be rough. It’s funny because I think she was probably more annoying than most (if not all) the kids in the classroom. I like the sound of this yuletide extravaganza. How frustrating after all your hard work that the party ended up being cancelled … and for no reason. But the worst part of this story was how feedback from a local mother’s group factored into your performance and then there was no clear direction given on how to “improve”.

    August 25, 2023 - 1:36 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I was toying with the idea of naming this story Waterworld ha ha. Then thought better of it. Thanks for the support and empathy, you know I wouldn’t be surprised if at the end of the day there wasn’t even a group of disgruntled mothers. That actually It was literally just Water reporting to Trudy, who then came up with the mums to cover their tracks. Ah, who knows!

      August 25, 2023 - 8:40 pm Reply
  • Juliet

    Wow, Leighton, what an unforgettable experience and so much frustration and instability to press through each day. I must say, though, the Santa suit is extraordinary!

    August 25, 2023 - 4:02 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha for that first class I must have been the saddest looking Santa imaginable. Thanks for reading Juliet, it’s always nice to hear form you.

      August 25, 2023 - 8:37 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    And now we see who Trudy really is…theres always those small moments with people where you get a very clear picture of who they are and what they are about and Trudy certainly had a few of those moments. Hiring Water the spy, and David the loafing marketer, and canceling christmas for no reason. But then to have her hooks in you with the apartment does not bode well for the continued story….

    August 27, 2023 - 11:43 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Anonymous (Meg is this you?). You make a god point about the apartment being a way to exert control over us. As I later learned Trudy rarely did a genuinely kind thing without it being a tactical move of some kind. David “the loading marketer” made me laugh.

      August 28, 2023 - 8:09 am Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Never would’ve predicted that Water was a spy! I have secondhand frustration and anger at Water and Trudy just reading this. Cancelling the party is the opposite of Christmas spirit!

    August 28, 2023 - 1:11 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Yes, it was very much a case of Ebeneezer Trudy. Thanks for checking in Lyssy.

      August 28, 2023 - 8:14 am Reply
  • satyam rastogi

    One of best storytellers on WordPress

    August 28, 2023 - 10:26 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment.

      August 28, 2023 - 3:07 pm Reply
  • travelling_han

    This must have been really difficult to manage. Water sounds useless and Trudy a nightmare. You wonder what their motives were – to me it sounds like they created the ‘mother’s group’ given there’s no specifics, no evidence etc. Was Water just someone who liked creating trouble maybe? What a horrible situation to be in, and I’m not at all surprised it soured things for you.

    August 28, 2023 - 2:19 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for keeping up with the series Han. Yeah, Water was possibly just a natural troublemaker. She was probably also peeved that I had no use for her in class and therefore tried to move her into the background. These days, running our own school online, it is wonderful not to have colleagues ha ha.

      August 28, 2023 - 3:09 pm Reply
  • Leighton

    Thank you Satyam.

    August 29, 2023 - 6:09 pm Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    That is really tough when they give you assistants like that, and it does make classrooms chaotic. Back when I taught pre-school it always seemed like there would be times when everything flowed together, and other times of complete craziness.

    September 1, 2023 - 11:33 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Yeah, I agree that in teaching there is often a very fine balance between great dynamics and things being a total mess.

      September 2, 2023 - 8:07 am Reply
  • Nic

    Wow what a turn of events! It must have been quite difficult to deal with at the time, sounds like a blow in your confidence , even though nothing was yours or S’s fault. I can only imagine… I have read not too different experiences from English teachers in similar programs. Sometimes you’re just not at the right place, at the right time… Hopefully, now is just a good story to tell. Thanks for sharing Leighton! Always love reading your stories.

    September 12, 2023 - 10:57 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for the kind words, Nic. Now that I have my own teaching business and work for myself it does feel amusing to look back on those days of struggle. The TEFL world is positively stricken with crappy schools, shady owners, poor management, bad communication and cultural differences galore. Not sure I could ever go back to that, I think I served my time.

      September 12, 2023 - 11:04 am Reply

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