Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

Working in TieLand

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

That’s right, I don a tie and dress shoes every day now. A couple of you have asked where I’ve run off to – well, I’ve not only been busy as hell the last couple of weeks but I also got sick for about a week. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you if I picked up some germs on the metro or if my lungs simply got infected from the pollution here.

So two days ago I finished teaching the first course I accepted here (a GRE test prep course). 12 sessions in all, pretty smart kids, and they spoke good English (now I just hope their scores actually go up on the test!). The other classes I am teaching now are 3 sections of Business English at Padaeng Industry (a zinc mining company, operating the only zinc smelter in southeast Asia! How do you like them apples?), 3 sections of Sales English at Pfizer Corporation, and then I am also teaching this one homeschooled, half-Thai, half-American girl some of her school subjects (math and current event critical thinking right now). So up until now, with the GRE deal winding up and my having needed to finish up my “training,” I have been working entirely too much, but things look a bit better moving forward.

So, was that Pfizer I mentioned earlier? As in Viagra? You got it. My company that assigns me to these courses reuses their business materials for just about everything (rather than making new ones each time, obviously a logical plan), so they handed me the standard packet and I took it along for day one. So there I am, reading from the page: “Okay Gift (yes that was her name by the way. The others in this particular class: Cherry, Bee, Ooi, Yok, Kig, Tho, and Meaw. Tho was the only dude.), can you please introduce yourself to me according to the instructions as if you were going to sell me your product?”

Gift (standing up facing me from about two feet away): “Hi. I’m Gift. I work for Pfizer Thailand. I am here today to sell Viagra. I would like to tell you more information about how it can fix your pee-pee problems. [Giggling.] I can give you stage 1, [something in broken English about stage 2], [giggling], I can personally administer you stage 3, [half giggles, half broken English about stage 4]. [Explosive giggling followed by breaking face and looking around at her classmates causing them to join in the giggling.]”

Me: “Uh, thank you Gift. That will do.”

In other words, a very professional start. Now some of the other girls did sell like Celebrex and other Pfizer products, but yeah I just wasn’t prepared for that to be the initial demonstration for the class.

My second “section” with Pfizer peeps is right after that one (these are on Saturday morning). This time, 11 girls and 1 dude. Only this group has weaker English skills and are clearly less confident in their speaking skills. So the first girl goes and not much is accomplished (I’m totally ready for Viagra saleswomen this time around). Then the guy goes. After I have critiqued his speaking, I notice he is wearing a Rolling Stones shirt. Now, I don’t care too much about the Stones, but I feel like the opportunity is there to be really positive and seem like a nice guy to try and get everybody to say a little more during their respective turns. So I tack on to my comments, “And I like your shirt.”

The up-until-that-point silent room erupts into “OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” (including the guy himself).

Oh no. What just happened?

Upon closer inspection, first of all this section is made up of people who signed up to be with their friends. That is, 11 girls and 1 guy.
His Stones shirt is pink.

Got it – my class of otherwise 100% girls is under the impression I just hit on the gay guy. Nice.

Things have gotten back on track a bit since that inauspicious start, and some of the girls are good-looking which is a nice bonus. But I do find it really tough to slow down enough for some of the weaker students to understand me. I’m a natural blabbermouth.

As for Bangkok, I’m adjusting in some ways and not so much in others. I still find it difficult to navigate the sidewalks when people cruise up onto them on their motorbikes to avoid the traffic in the actual ROAD (this happens constantly). And sitting in traffic in a taxi in one lane and looking out the window to see someone on top of an elephant halted in the adjacent lane is not something that really ever becomes normal I don’t think. I’ve found a lot of food that I do like (soups, pad thai, seafood, street cooked chicken, smoothies, sushi), but unfortunately I’m still struggling to get my fiber and veggies. Okay, no more details from that department.

I just bought some pretty decent computer speakers for $8 at Tesco Lotus (think Wal-Mart X 6 or 7 then add even more to the food court as well as a skyway connecting directly to the metro station and you have some idea) so I’m jamming out on those. Oh yeah, I also went to the And1 Streetball Asian Invasion Tour last week. Among the big And1 names taking the court (I feel like I’m forgetting one good one): Hot Sauce, 50, Alimoe, High Rizer, Circus, Air Bama, and 13th Floor. The alley-oop dunks and Hot Sauce’s ability to embarrass defenders were especially cool. The level of basketball play was not too impressive in person though and there were several near-fights between the players (they bring the whole streetball experience, including the lack of professionalism and focus).

And as for weather-related stuff, the tremors of the China earthquake were felt here, and Myanmar (Burma) is still a huge deal cuz its a direct neighbor, but Bangkok is just hot and sweaty. However, we have entered the monsoon season so it just rains out of nowhere for hours. Not always convenient.

Okay so like I said I’ve been working a lot so nothing too exciting, just wanted to get back to those of you that asked that yes I’m good. Let me know what’s up y’all!