The Great Escape

Great Escape pic


If you mess with anyone in my family, you are messing with me.  I’m not the toughest guy around but I’m not exactly a pushover either.  When you don’t have kids to support or have to put a roof over their heads, it gives you a certain kind of freedom.  Money is obviously not that important to me since I choose to live in China working for about $1000 a month.

If you make a lot of money, quitting worries you because you wonder if you can get the same kind of money.  If you make peanuts, you don’t worry about those things.  Since I do this (live in China and teach) because it’s fun, there is no point to it if I’m not having fun.

I wasn’t in love with the school (Baotou Teacher’s College) but I was happy that Shujie was enjoying teaching and my students were all right.  Some were great people and others were scum but I’m not complaining.  However, when they fired Shujie that took what little wind I had out of my sails.

As I wrote in an earlier post, when they fired her I asked for my release and was told that my contract had nothing to do with Shujie.  They were so stupid in what they did.  They hired 3 foreign teachers and fired Shujie.  Now let’s do the math.  Two foreign teachers showed up and one didn’t show up.  So now the school after getting rid of Shujie is at +1.  But wait!  One of the foreign teachers who showed up failed his medical and had to leave.  I can’t think how you can fail a medical here because the exam is useless.  The only thing I can think of is drugs or an STD.  So cancel one and you have 1 new foreign teacher and no Shujie.  It’s a wash.  But wait, there’s more!  Cancel Martin (who did the “Midnight run”) and now the school is at -1 teachers.  You can’t count on any teacher to show up until they are here.  It is not uncommon to take a job and not show up.  What a bunch of dummies.

The “Midnight Run” is when a teacher leaves the premises without telling anyone and takes all their stuff and leaves no trace of where they went.  The problem with this is you can’t get another job without a “release letter”.  However I got a job.  The person who hired me said that what they basically do is bribe someone to approve a new visa and “foreign experts certificate”.  He can do this in this province (a different one from Inner Mongolia) because they know people.  So I could run because I had a job to go to.  Shujie was very happy to leave because of what they did to her and I was happy to leave because who wants to work for scum.

I had to wait to collect my February and March salary before I “ran”.  We were supposed to be paid no later than March 10th, which was a Sunday.  That meant in reality we had to be paid by the 8th (the Friday).  That was not going to happen.  When I learned this and went to the lying bitch Juliet and told her that the school would be in breach of contract if they didn’t pay on time (which they would be), she just laughed at me.

I went to her boss and told him what she did and that the school was supposed to pay me on time.  He said that since it was the new semester and everyone was just getting back, things were going slowly but it shouldn’t be my problem.  He would try and get it sorted out and get back to me.

The next day I got an email from him saying that they were having problems in the finance department with their “system”, and they were trying to work it out.  Shujie suggested I give him a “sob story” and they would find the money they owed me.  Now technically I wasn’t really working in March except for a few days, but I wanted my whole months salary.  Call it a penalty for what they did to Shujie.  Shujie was promised money for February and that was supposed to be paid at the same time.  I wrote back that I needed the money “now” as I had to send it to Canada to pay my credit card bill, otherwise I would face stiff fines.  We set up a meeting for 2:30 that afternoon.

As I was walking down the hall to his office, Juliet (whose office is across from his) came running out of her office.  She told me that Mr. Zhang was in a meeting and I should come into her office and someone was getting me my money.  She told me that this other teacher was taking out of her account and giving it to me.  I signed over my February and March pay to her so that was fine.  I was asked if I needed Shujie’s money right then but since it was only about $300 I said we could wait.  I heard that the money would hit the bank on Tuesday so we would escape on Friday, I would call in sick on Monday, and then resign Monday night.  I thought payroll would be in the bank

So I took the money and ran (who’s laughing now honey).  Only 3 people knew we were leaving.  One was another teacher we are friendly with.  Shujie told the old woman (in her late 60’s I guess) who looks after the big garage where bikes are stored.  They’ve become quite friendly during the year, and the old woman told her husband.  This sweet old woman had 2 dogs to keep her company all day and the school told her to get rid of them.  They were tiny and they bothered no one.  I wanted to go to the school and complain about what they were doing, but Shujie said the woman would get into trouble if I did that.  So she got rid of one of the dogs and hides the other.  What kind of people run this place?

Then the woman was told that they had to go work in the other parking place across the road.  She was unhappy about this because they had everything set up the way they liked it, and they didn’t want to go through the process again.  However, this time we could help.  I suggested that Shujie tell the woman’s boss that I (the foreigner) didn’t want her going to a different garage because she could speak English and I could talk to her.  (She says she used to be an English teacher but she knows less English than I know Chinese).  Anyhow, that worked.  They were told to stay in the same place.  So there is something I accomplished at the school.

We got bags and things we were shipping out of the apartment by telling the people downstairs who look after things in the building, that Shujie got a job across town and would be living in an apartment there.  Shujie is friendly with them, but she didn’t want them to know anything because then when they were asked how we escaped, they could tell how we lied about Shujie’s new job.

When we were leaving for good, the garage woman and her husband came with us off the grounds while we got a taxi.  He put our bags in his cart and took them out a side gate.  The woman came along and she was in tears.  You would have thought she was losing a child.  She kept shaking my hand and I felt so bad.  Shujie has a knack of being kind and showing respect to the very low workers at the school.  She gives them things we don’t want, and because you can sell your recyclables, she gives them away too.  I really don’t think there are many like her.

I emailed all my students (one email to each class monitor) saying goodbye and showing them my letter of resignation and a Chinese translation.  I sent my letter of resignation to an assortment of people including two of the foreign teachers.  (That turned out to be brilliant on my part).

Tuesday morning according to our friend, the evil Juliet looked a total mess.  She was asking everyone if they knew.  My resignation letter was pretty good (I show it at the end of this post).  Needless to say, Juliet comes out as the heavy in my story.

Since our departure, Tuesday’s pay to the teacher’s was held up.  We figure it was because they redid the payroll taking away Shujie’s $300.  What a stupid place.  You’ve broken your contract with all your foreign teacher’s by being late, and then you choose to be even later over $300.

Wednesday Juliet was giving the 3rd degree to the two teacher’s I copied on the resignation letter.  Naturally she got no information.  She was telling them her side of the story but who cares, she has no credibility among the people I respect.  And the story she was telling was lies and more lies.  She also told that she was required to write a letter to the President of the school explaining what happened.

I wrote again to her boss, saying that I knew she had to write a letter and it would be all lies.  If they wanted to believe her that was fine, but if they wanted the truth about what kind of teacher Shujie was, they could talk to her students.  (As if they care about the truth).  I also told him of another lie, the one about her being paid in March for February and I copied the email from her stating that.  I thought that was pretty good.

I got an email from him Thursday morning asking if we were still in Baotou and if so, could we come in and talk to him.  I replied that we had flown the coup but would be happy to call him if he wanted.  He requested that he speak with Shujie first as they could talk in Chinese and it would be easier.

Shujie was on the phone with him for more than 90 minutes.  She got off saying he seemed like a nice guy but he’s not.  He’s just another cog in the scum machine.  He told her that she wasn’t fired it was just that all teacher’s had a 6 month deal and hers wasn’t renewed.  It seems that it’s the law in China that you have to give the employees a contract so they are breaking the law.  He said this school does not sign contracts with their teachers.  According to this guy (Head of Foreign Affairs and Dean of the International School), this was all a big misunderstanding.

Shujie said the contract the school told her she was getting (it had been emailed to her), stated that her term of employment was to be for one year.  She was told she was fired for being no good.  Where is the misunderstanding?  What he’s worried about is what the other foreign teacher’s will think so my copying them on the resignation letter worked out brilliantly.  He told Shujie that she would get her money (and she did today) and would she try and get me to write a letter saying that it was all a misunderstanding.  So he’s trying to bribe us for a measly $300.  You can bribe me without a problem, but it’s going to take more than $300.  So they get nothing and Shujie gets her money and I got extra money.

So I’m here in Zhengzhou (pronounced Jeng-Joe), a city of about 8 million people in Henan province.  I took a job with a company that supplies full-time teachers to schools and it was agreed (after negotiations) that I would only work in a University.  We came here last Friday night and were met at the airport by the owner and someone who works with him in a tiny car.  There was no room for our suitcases and us.  The owner (English name Marco) that he didn’t think we were bringing so many suitcases (2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons).  Where do I find these bozos.  Our bags went in the small car and he took us in a taxi to our new residence.  On the drive he told me that for the 1st two weeks I’d be working at a University about 2 hours away.  The school I was brought here for hadn’t signed a contract yet.  He also told us that the apartment had been cleaned as requested and the Internet was up.

What a dump!  It wasn’t cleaned.  There was no Internet.  There was no stove.  There was no fridge.  He asked if we could wait a few days for a fridge and stove since it wasn’t 100% sure where we’d be living.  I told him I needed the fridge right now and we’d make do with no stove for a few days (that was a mistake).  He said he would have cleaners over the next morning.

The cleaners came and did a good job but you have to watch them and tell them what to do so they don’t skip things they should be doing.  I was told someone would go to the Internet office and straighten things out.  No one straightened anything out (and I don’t think anyone went) so there was still no Internet.  So we’re living miles from nowhere (20 minutes by taxi to the nearest supermarket) with only 8th rate Chinese restaurants to eat at.  On Sunday the Internet got going by paying the bill (amazing how these things work).  And I was picked up Monday morning about 6:45 for work.

I was sent to a “University” but it wasn’t a University, it was a college.  A University is a 4-year school while a college is a 3-year school.  College here is for those who aren’t bright enough or too lazy to get into University.  It was terrible.  It’s not that the students had such poor English, it’s that most of them didn’t give a damn.  After work I went to the office and told him that I didn’t want to work there, as it was a college.  He said it was a University so this argument was going nowhere.  I just said I wouldn’t work there.

Marco and a person who works for him (Dana) both said that except for the number one University in the city, all the Universities were filled with under-achievers in English and if they were any good they got out of town.  If I wanted students who cared, I should work at a “private international high school”.  What these are for is getting students ready to go to school abroad.  I really wanted University but I didn’t want to move yet so I agreed to work at one of these schools.

I finished the week at the college and tonight I went to the high school to meet the vice-principal (an American) who is in charge of this program.  It costs about $10,000 a year for the students to attend so I figure they must be pretty good.  The vice-principal and I hit it off and it looks like there is hope for the future.  We will be moving on Sunday close to civilization and the school and now Shujie can start looking for a job since she knows where she will be living.

So we escaped.  They were stupid and ignorant liars in Baotou.  Life will go on for them but it’s nice to know I inconvenienced a few people and scared others.  I’m not bitter as sometimes bad things happen.  You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into when you take a job in a school.  I was lucky last year being at a school where the person who was looking after me was an excellent person and the students, while not brilliant, were nice.  I liked my Jurong students much more than my Baotou students.

We will see how this goes.  I have great hope because as long as the students try, I’ll have fun.  High School in China is the hardest thing.  The students like University because they can “relax” after high school.  It’s not unusual for students to be working late into the night.  High school in Asia is hell.  And I am out of hell.

The following is the letter of resignation I wrote:

I resign my position as teacher at Baotou Teacher’s College effective immediately.  I feel like I would like to give an explanation for this decision, as it is not one I have taken lightly.  This is very serious and only the most grievous misdeeds by this school could have caused this.

I accepted the job as teacher here under the false pretenses presented by this school in the person of Juliet (Zhu Li) of the Foreign Affairs Department.  What she has done has caused harm and discomfort to my family and caused us (my wife and I) to waste 6 months of our lives at this place, which claims to be an institution of higher learning. 

I shudder to think of the example you set for the students by allowing her and others (such as Rachel, vice-dean of English at the International School) like her to pretend to teach young people and set an example.  There are many places online where you can read about the bad Chinese people who have mistreated and lied to the Westerners that come to their schools.  I also know that some schools are cheated by some of the Westerners that come here.  In fact, you have a foreign teacher who likes to play games on his phone during class (he will show a movie to “amuse” the students), and you have a male teacher who likes to put his hands all over his girl students.  Of course, the people in charge here ignore these things because all you seem to care about is the white colour of their skin and not their teaching ability.

Now I’m sure that Juliet and others will have their “stories” in place to refute what I write.  That’s fine.  You can believe them if you will, but they have proven themselves to be dishonest and liars and bring shame to this school and this country.  Every person is an ambassador for their country, and you have some people here who bring dishonor to China wherever they go.  If you choose to believe their lies, then the shame rests on your heads too.

When I applied for this job I was asked by Juliet what my wife did.  I told her that she had a background in business and Juliet asked me if she would like to teach business here.  I asked Shujie (my wife) and she replied that she would love to.  So Juliet told me that the school would hire both of us.  I thought that was quite an excellent opportunity for us to work at the same school.

When we got here Shujie was given 1 business class, and the rest of the classes were Business English.  That was no problem for her and she worked countless hours preparing lessons and being ready for her classes.  Her objective was to share her knowledge and help the students open their minds and learn what they could.  Many times students would stop her in the hall and tell her, “I’m so sorry I didn’t sign up for your class.   I heard your class was excellent from some of your students”.

Shujie was and is a fine teacher who had an excellent working relationship with her students along with their respect.  She got this by showing the students respect and treating them not as stupid kids who only had to memorize things, but by allowing them to think and express their opinions.

At the end of the first semester, after exams, Juliet called Shujie into her office and told her she was fired because she was a bad teacher.  (Shujie was never given a contract by the school, which I understand is illegal).  She told Shujie that they (her and Rachel) had a meeting with the students and the students were very dissatisfied with her teaching performance.  This was a stupid lie because it was easily verified that there was no meeting.  No students of hers went to a meeting about her teaching.  The only reason she was fired was because more white faces were hired so you got rid of the newest Chinese teacher.  This was obviously the intent of this school from the start.  If she was no good, she would have been fired during probation but not a word was mentioned.  You filled your staff with white teachers (they are more impressive to tell prospective students about), and you tossed Shujie aside like a piece of used garbage.

So I was hired with the understanding that my wife would be hired to work for the year.  No one asked this school to offer her a job.  We may have still come here but instead you resorted to falsehoods and dishonesty to achieve your goals.  I owe you nothing but you owe us a lot.  You owe us an apology.  You owe us the money we spent to get here.  And you owe us 6 months of our lives, which of course you can never repay.  We don’t expect anything from you because it’s obvious what kind of school you run here, and what kind of people you are.

At the end of the first semester the students were asked their opinions of their teachers.  Shujie has been told by some of her students that their classes were told to not write anything about her class.  They were to comment on all their classes but hers.  Why is that?  Obviously it was because the decision to fire her was made a long time ago and you wanted nothing positive about her in writing.  You didn’t tell her when you knew she would be fired because you wanted her to finish the term.  In an honest school, if a teacher is no good you want to get rid of them immediately.  In this school, you just want to cheat whomever you can to achieve your dishonest and reprehensible goals.

I blame Juliet the most for all this and I know Rachel was involved but perhaps there were others.  The head of the school is responsible for this because he allows this to go on here.  Does he or anyone care?  I will be sure and post what I know online so others who look may know something of the kind of institution you run here.

You may think I am “dishonest” because I took my March salary and didn’t teach in March.  What I took was not my March salary, but a small fraction of the money you owe us for your misdeeds.  If you did this in Canada, the people involved in this would be out of a job, and your school would have to pay a large sum of money to Shujie for wrongful dismissal.  Because we don’t have the time or know any lawyers in this town, you get off lightly.  However, you have to live with yourselves, which is a punishment of sorts.

All I can say in closing is you are shameful and despicable people.  I feel sorry for the students who come here and are cheated by your lack of morals and your lack of caring about their learning.  There are more than 1.3 billion people in China and this school had to end up with the worst of them. 

Martin King


  1. Tomas said:

    Wow … You’re living in the time that will produce many dramas along on your journey, my friend … there’s never a dull moment … of course, you would rather experience a more positive vibe and excitements then what you have gone through … glad you both are doing much better … thanks for the update … looking forward to a more positive upbeat, my friend … give my regards to Shujie … Tomas

    • Tomas,

      I hope you are well and enjoying life. I appreciate your comments and you kindness. It’s a real pleasure to be in contact with someone who has good manners and conducts himself with class on the Internet. I admit I fail that test sometimes, but I have yet to see you make a misstep.


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