Please, make it stop!

OK Latvia, I’m sorry for all the things I’ve said about you. I miss you. I want to come home. My throat is sore from saying ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ and ‘lovely day, isn’t it?’ to every passing stranger. My jaw hurts from all the smiling. I just want to be surly and left alone again. Is that too much to ask?

I’ve reached the end of week two of my summer school sentence courseΒ and the novelty of life in England is starting to wear off. Aside from all the random chatter and obese women in clothes designed for 8-year olds, I’ve also got to contend with the token summer school weirdo. There’s one every year – the guy who somehow manages to appear normal enough to get through the interview, only to reveal that he is the world’s biggest oddball on arrival.

This year it’s ‘Interesting, isn’t it?’ man. No. No, it isn’t. Nothing you have ever said, are saying, or are going to say, will ever EVER be interesting. His only topic of conversation is teaching Business English in Hungary. Actually, no, I tell a lie. He can also bang on for hours about the EU and Hungary, the cost of living in Hungary, commuting in Hungary, how resistant Hungarians are to his ideas for a better Hungary, politics in Hunga… sorry, I nodded off for a second there.

This is a man who slept through the induction, got lost on his way to the breakfast room four days running, and still can’t get into the school by himself two weeks into the course. He also feels that trumpeting his nose into a hanky, pushing any stray food back into his mouth with the same hanky, and shedding dandruff on the table are all things the rest of us want to see at mealtimes. I might surprise him one day by doing aΒ Latvian snot rocketΒ right onto his plate.

‘Oh Linda, stop being melodramatic, he’s only one man. There must be other people you can talk to’, I hear you say. Enter Hypochondriac Girl. It’s not so much a matter of talking to her, as being talked at. The school has kindly put her in the bedroom opposite me. She leaves her door open all the time, and as I only have ‘porno shoes’ – thanks Latvia – and flip flops with me, it’s pretty difficult to slip by unnoticed. It’s at the stage where I can’t enter or leave my room without being drawn into another long-winded round of ‘what’s wrong with me today…’ After approximately 14 days, I now know more about her medical history than I know about my own.

This is the kind of person who goes to a gym induction session with everyone else, not because they have any actual intention of ever going to the gym, but rather because they have a new audience in the gym instructor. The poor man didn’t know what hit him when she reached the ‘Do you have any medical conditions?’ section of the form.

Luckily, a gimpy knee is one of her many ailments so my latest plan, hatched out of sheer desperation, was to go up and down as many stairs as I could while she was following me, talking. Her knee is now the size of a watermelon but she’s still following me up and down three flights of stairs 15 times a day, still talking – and I’m running out of ideas.

Every morning, I get a running commentary about the blister on her foot. And just in case I can’t visualise it for myself, she shows me its progress. I wonder how long you’d have to be colleagues with a Latvian before they’d show you their blisters? A long, long time I’m guessing.

But hey, at least the Director of Studies is on top of things. Yesterday, she spend an hour and fifteen minutes making a pencil holder out of an empty yogurt pot.

I miss my flat. I miss my privacy. I miss not having to speak to people all the time. I miss the particular brand of odd that is Latvia.

Bet you never thought you’d hear me say that…

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Humor, Humour, TEFL, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Please, make it stop!

  1. archecotech says:

    Lol, love it. “doing a Latvian snot rocket”, didn’t think this belonged to the Latvians. Watched old farmers in Utah do it all the time. Thinking about it I think they are from…….

  2. Expat says:

    “pushing any stray food back into his mouth with the same hanky, and shedding dandruff on the table are all things the rest of us want to see at mealtimes.” EWWWW!!!

  3. That made me laugh – especially the going up and down stairs bit! Have you tried boring her with your own medical ailments (imagined, and very unusual of course πŸ˜‰ )? She might get cross that you were trying to get a word in edgeways! And ‘Interesting, isn’t it?’ man – oh dear, poor you. 😦

    • Expat Eye says:

      He’s been fired πŸ˜‰ She’s still doing her meerkat impression every time I walk past her door! I might watch a couple of episodes of ‘Embarrassing Illnesses’ to get some ideas…

  4. After approximately 14 days, I now know more about her medical history than I know about my own – I did not know my ma is in your summer school… have to check! πŸ˜€

  5. Nothing you have ever said, are saying, or are going to say, will ever EVER be interesting. I think you are being influenced by Latvian culture in a positive way hahahaha no political correctness, if it is stupid, it is stupid, why would have to sweat to make it look ok??? Porno shoes hahahahahaha but also sad, and I will take this as an inspiration to my blog post πŸ˜‰

    • Expat Eye says:

      You’re the second person I’ve given inspiration to today – I won’t be able to get my head out of the door in the morning at this rate πŸ˜‰ Yes, I think you might be right! Latvian directness has taken hold of me!

  6. Pingback: Is nowhere sacred? | Expat Eye on Latvia

  7. Marianne says:

    Well, I never thought I would hear you say you MISSED Latvia! Hey – only two more weeks of teaching πŸ™‚

  8. Pecora Nera says:

    How did he get lost on the way to the breakfast room? Didn’t he just follow the smell of bacon and eggs??

  9. John says:

    You should seriously think about reorganising your year. I used to do that as well: suffer through the winter in Riga, then head off to Northern Ireland for crappy office temping in summer, just at the very time when Riga was at its best and most liveable. Now I work outside Latvia and spend the summer here, when the evenings are bright, there’s (occasional) sunshine, you can swim in Jurmala, the summer terraces are in full swing and there are concerts and other events on. Why live in Latvia in the winter, trudging through snow and ice in the dark, if not to enjoy the contrast of summer? Or maybe babysitting spoilt Spanish and Italian teenagers in the midlands excuse for a summer has hidden joys I haven’t experienced yet?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Teaching work tends to dry up a bit in LV over the summer. Understandably so. And they don’t do summer camps that I’m aware of. Hoping this will be my last year having to do this though. The kids are fine. The teachers and management are driving me slowly round the bend.

      • John says:

        I don’t know if I agree. I come back to Latvia in the summertime and always manage to pick up 15-20 hours work. That’s more than enough to live on until it picks up again, especially if you do a few extra hours during the year and save the cash. I could probably get even more if I busted a gut and looked but I’m happy to work a reduced schedule. This year I’ve 11 hours privates and turned down 5 hours in a language centre and another private who contacted me as a two-day week is enough. If I can do that, not living in LV the whole year it should definitely be possible for people teaching there the whole year to make enough contacts to do. Just saying…. there is more work there than people think, even in the summer.

  10. Just giggling. I love the stairs idea.

  11. Jude says:

    Grass is always greener hey!

  12. 1WriteWay says:

    Your Latvians friends must love this post ;). I hope you manage to get through the term without murdering anybody. (Although your missives from prison would be pretty interesting.)

    • Expat Eye says:

      After this experience, I think I’d actually fare quite well in prison. Almost snapped at dinner today so we might find out fairly soon! As long as it’s English prison, not Latvian prison!

      • 1WriteWay says:

        Oh, you poor thing! Just hang in there. It’ll be over soon (one way or another) πŸ˜‰

      • Expat Eye says:

        Just opened my bedroom door and she was sitting there looking at me again… it may all be over sooner than we think!!

      • 1WriteWay says:

        Oh, no! Creepy! Hey, start sneezing and coughing and dry heaving. Maybe you’ll scare her away πŸ˜‰

      • Expat Eye says:

        We already have inappropriate nose blowing man – actually he’s been fired but they’re keeping him around so he can ‘observe’ the people who actually know how to teach. On full pay.

      • 1WriteWay says:

        You couldn’t make this stuff up … You have my deepest sympathies πŸ˜‰

      • Expat Eye says:

        Last night, just as I was trying to sneak to the loo, she spotted me. I got a full run down of her thesis on socio-linguistics, right down to how to indent on a Slovak computer… Needless to say, this took some time. And willpower not to murder on my part!

      • 1WriteWay says:

        Well, you could have acted like Linda Blair in the The Exorcist and just peed right then and there. Although then she probably would started talking about her urinary tract infections.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Probably! I really don’t think there is an end to the drivel!

  13. And here I thought you were joking about the fat chicks in clothes designed for 7-year olds. Poor you… I definitely shan’t be leaving London now!

    Also, I think we’re going to need to figure out some sort of commission for referrals to your site. Soon you’ll have received more clicks than my own Facebook page link!!

    By the way, you could always head to London πŸ˜‰

    • Expat Eye says:

      Don’t think I’ll make it this time round! Although I am flying out of Stansted – does that count?! How many clicks am I getting? What are you saying about me that makes people want to visit me so badly?!
      And, if I don’t make it to London, you can always come to Riga! Plenty of beeeeoooootiful women there! πŸ˜‰

      • Stansted?! No way I’m giving you that one.

        Err… I think you’ve had about 20 or so (hardly ground breaking I know but better than nothing right?)

        I’m not sure what it is. I think people are just captured by your brazen and shameless attempts to flirt with me πŸ˜‰

        Riga hey? Latvia is actually the only Baltic state I have yet to visit… I’ll think about it. Haha.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Flirting?! Me! I’m just trying to fend you off haha! πŸ˜‰

        Can’t believe you’ve been to Estonia and Lithuania and skipped Latvia – shame on you!!

  14. Oh no. Not THAT guy. The hanky paragraph was almost unrecoverable. And perhaps you could break out into jumping jacks every few minutes to help out her knee – “it’s we socialize in Latvia”

  15. Naphtali says:

    I have been thinking of ESL teaching. And now I know, I need to! Does IT matter if I get CELTA?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Do you think you’re odd enough?? A lot of schools will ask for CELTA or equivalent but you can get by without it. I have πŸ˜‰

  16. Ugh! Are you almost done there??

    • Expat Eye says:

      Not even close. The 13th of August is my last teaching day… feels like it’s never going to end! Hope this is the last year I’ll have to do it.

  17. Gypsy says:

    I thought all weirdo expats got shipped to Doha … we must have let a few out over the summer months! Oh, well, at least I’m still here to keep the insanity going πŸ™‚
    On a more serious note, why not try setting up Blister Babe and Booger Boy? You never know, it could be a match made in heaven, and it might get them out of your hair.
    She: “Have you seen the stye on my eye?”
    He: “In Hungary, I have seen an eye on a stye! Interesting, isn’t it?”
    Everyone leaves happy πŸ˜‰
    Hang in there!

  18. I’d been considering training as an ESL teacher until I read this!!

  19. bevchen says:

    The grass is always greener, right πŸ˜‰

    • Expat Eye says:

      So true! All the teachers are miserable actually – we’ve got 2 living in Poland and one in the Czech Republic and me in Latvia – and we all want to go home! Pretty sure no English person would ever understand that!!!!

  20. rjschutte says:

    I am pretty sure Latvia is missing you too. It misses the laughter from the pubs. Confused bartenders. Divi? No, vienu. LMS is not in Riga.

  21. pollyheath says:

    There’s something about teaching ESL that brings out the weirdos. I’m frightened of which weirdo archetype I fit in to…

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