Saturday, 8 May 2010
The Day I Failed To Lose My Job
The mobile phone rang three times and then went silent. My wife and I were in our flat in Japan. We did the usual routine of hurriedly checking all the obvious places where the phone could be. We soon located it, but the caller had already hung up.
It was the manager of the cram school where I'm working part time at the moment. I was slightly irritated that the old woman with the puss weeping eyes always did this – namely phone and hang up after three calls. And I always phoned back, and often she wouldn't pick up. Irritation like ants in my ear or under my skin flushed through my central nervous system.
I phoned back. Just an answering machine costing me money. I left it ten minutes and phoned back again.
I barely held my annoyance in check as I spoke: “Yes, Meiwaku. What is it?”
The dithering thin voice of the over-weight, middle-aged snot eyed woman began: “You didn't come to your lesson today.”
“You said Wednesday, not Monday.”
“No, I said Monday.”
“I don't think so. We had this same problem last week. I write down the day and time as soon as we arrange a lesson.”
“No, I said Monday because I know you can't make Wednesday.” She got me there because I did say I was too busy on Wednesdays. But on this occasion, the timing was convenient to let me get between my regular job and the filthy cram school classroom. The mountain needed to explain all this seemed to be beyond me.
“Fuck, this is not working out, Meiwaku.”
Silence at the other end of the phone so I continued.
“You won't use email. You cannot remember when I'm supposed to teach. I don't want to work for you anymore. When am I going to get paid? I've had enough. “
“Can you come in to teach on Friday? 4.30 to 6.30?” The witchy nut job voice asked.
“Why is it that you only ring three times and then hang up?”
My wife had to go to work and as she walked out the door, this final calming influence left my vicinity. I started shouting.
“Why the fuck do you hang up after three rings? Answer me.”
This elicited an answer: “Because I'm busy.”
“Well I'm fucking busy too. When am I getting paid?”
“You get paid next month on the 26th.”
I groaned like a wild beast in a trap. That was ages away. “OK. On Friday I'll meet you to give you my time sheet. I quit. You are weird. You won’t use email. You hang up after three rings. This isn't working.”
“I am taking a rest on Friday. Can you teach Ryusei and Shohei on Friday?”
This was going nowhere. I wondered if she was having a conversation with a polite me from a parallel universe. I had sworn at the woman. I had interrogated the woman. I had a complete break-down in politeness. How was it that I wasn't getting through? Why was I not being fired?
“OK I'll teach Ryusei and Shohei on Friday from 4.30 to 6.30.” I resigned. I just couldn't get fired over the phone.