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In my last writeup, "cool" I mentioned spending a good 15 minutes to a half hour debating whether to jump in front of a train, after quitting my job, all because a British girl (she was maybe Scottish, maybe Ukrainian? something like that) used the word "cheeky" in a non-ironic sense. I mean, of course it was non-ironic, she was British.

So let me back up and explain why that might make sense. At the time, I was not working as an ESL teacher. So, a thing about the ESL business in Chile, and in much of the world: it can often be a scam, with many "institutes" being somewhat sketchy on both the morality and ethics of employment law. At that institute, like many others in Chile, I was theoretically an independent contractor. That meant I only worked for them when I wanted to, and had no other obligations. Except I did. Work had kind of dried up, and the institute wasn't very communicative about when it would come back. Did they not like me anymore? Was there no work available? Were they given work preferentially to people from the East Coast? My boss was from Wisconsin, and I think she liked other people from the Eastern United States. Do you know the piggy, smirky look that people from Wisconsin give you when they get away with being stupid? I can imagine that look in her eyes right now. Anyway, one day an e-Mail went around asking us if we wanted to participate in a meet and greet with students. I wrote back that I might consider it, but I didn't really feel like it at the moment. And I got an e-Mail back saying I would be doing it. The next day, after making another trip to the office for unrelated reasons, I asked how much it paid. They said we were paid...in drinks. I left and then started simmering. They hadn't given me any new work for months, but they thought I would work for them for free. Or for drinks. I got madder and madder. As I am right now. The next day I got up and didn't want to go. But I got dressed. Actually, I got overdressed. This was January, in the southern hemisphere. I put on a thick sweater vest. I got on a train and wrote a message to the hostess of the party, the Scottish/Ukrainian girl, asking what time I had to show up. And this is where she said that it started at 1, but we were all meeting together at noon, for a "cheeky drink".

This business, which was theoretically a business I was a subcontractor for, but hadn't contacted me about new work for, for two months, also decided that I was obligated to be the face of the business, without pay. And then this utterly uncool British girl decided that working for free was acceptable because, you see, it was "cheeky". We were all kids hanging out and having fun! The British idea of "cheeky", stylized rebellion, made up for the fact that we were expected to act like unpaid salespeople for the business. I said I didn't want to go, and she said that was okay, and I rode the subway until it became an elevated line out in Pudahuel and then I moved to the end of the big, open, fiberglass covered station and I sat down on a chair and looked at the three foot recess from the platform to the tracks, and I sat there in my too-hot sweater vest and seriously considered it for...10 minutes? 20 minutes? A lot of trains went past. I finally went home and...I forgot at that point. I think I wrote an e-Mail to my boss explaining that private businesses asking people to work for free was wrong. And she totally didn't comprehend it. She was from Wisconsin. I have never met a person from Wisconsin who could understand the concept of right and wrong. I could just imagine her piggy pasty little face, trying to roll the concept around in her mind, like a cocker spaniel with a piece of cow dung. With the exception that a cocker spaniel likes dung, while a Wisconsite can't even begin to understand right or wrong. I think I spent the next few weeks in the heat, sometimes repeating "I don't want to live anymore, I don't want to live anymore, I don't want to live anymore" to myself in an endless refrain. Whenever I tried to think of wanting to do or be anything, the twin looks of incomprehension of the British girl who didn't understand cool, and the Wisconsite girl who didn't understand right or wrong, swam into my vision.

I got better, or I think I did. I found new ways to be free. But I guess there is a fear, on some level, that I will have t deal with people with that level of incomprehension again? What happens if I meet a British person with no insight into the idea of freedom than "being fashionably naughty"? Or what happens if I meet another Wisconsin person with no insight into life other than "puking on my shoes in a Walmart parking lot, and then going back to my office job"? I am afraid right now about having to deal with that again.

You are welcome for me telling you this story.


Uhh...and also, this all happened years ago, so please don't worry about me. I am doing pretty good now. But sometimes I still get angry and frustrated, and I feel this is a good place for talking about those things. I think we can talk about negative emotions without endorsing them and/or glamorizing them. Please don't think about jumping in front of trains. Seriously, don't.