Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fight! Fight! Fight!

We had a fight at school last Friday.  Let me set the scene.  It must have been between 9:30 and 10am because that's when we have break time and it's the only reason we all would have been in the office.  There are 9 bule teachers (eight guys and me), plus four Koreans who teach English and four other grade five teachers in our office.  The mood was light as it was Friday and we'd been told we could leave at 12:30 (except John, Lincoln and I who had extra-curriculars). The weather was good, rugby talk in the air.

Here's a map of our office.  Blue desks are bule teachers.  H.O.D. is the head of department.  The red is the "dead zone" from the fight.

The left hand side is all windows, the right hand is cabinets and beyond them a wall, then the hall. What would appear above this on the school layout is the Korean teachers room.
Here's a snippet of the chat I was having online with my mom as it started:

Me: Hang on, there is something happening here.  There is shouting in the office.

Me: in English and in Korean
Me: like a reality TV show
Mom: chick fight?
Me: a parent screaming at a teacher, another teacher screaming and translating
Me: the vice principal just came in.
Mom: Built in entertainment at work.
Me: Full on screaming for 3 minutes, thrashing about. Left, came back. Then the bule boys started screaming for them to get out.  The parent had to be physically restrained.

Me: I guess. And I've got good blog material today.
Mom: Could you figure out what the parent was yelling about?
Me: Sort of. 

The mom, we'll call her Mary, came in from the door and the top and headed towards Scott sitting at his desk. She started in a speaking voice which quickly elevated.  As you can see, there's not a lot of room between the desks, about a meter and a half in the middle aisle. As she came in another teacher, we'll call her Jane, made a beline for her. Mary works in the high school and has a daughter in grade four. Jane works here in the elementary and has a son in grade four.  I've taught both kids and they're good, smart kids.  Mary and Jane are good friends, so Jane took Mary out to the hall to try and assess things and cool her off presumably. They exited through the door closer to my desk. 

A minute or two later the door flung open and my name was thrown out.   "blah blah blah Miss Melissa . . . blah blah Melissa . . .blah blah" and of course in this case the blah's are Korean.  Oh crap.  I'd sat through it so far at my desk, literally keeping my head down. What did I do?

Mary then storms back in through the far door at Scott again.  She's even more revved up than before.  Scott is seated so she's taller (at about five foot) than he is and she's right in his face, arms flying, volume crescendoing. Someone finally gets the vice principal, who we so affectionately call Mr. Dim.  He's about six foot six and as big around as a telephone pole-not to mention almost as useful. He arrives looking sufficiently puzzled and stands at the fight site doing nothing. At some point one of the Korean English teachers has gone over and become a human shield in front of Scott, who, before I forget, is about 45, British and about 210 pounds to my estimate. His shield? Late 30's, five-six, 120-130 pounds. 

Chris, one of the bule teachers, eventually starts shouting to get her out.  That it was enough.  Lincoln, Ben and Stephan all join in.  I'm still head down, busy with emails. John, the mellowest of the bunch, tries to physically restrain Mary.  She had worked herself into an absolute tizzy at this point and was screaming at anyone within two feet of her.  She flung john off (he's over six foot tall too) and was finally escorted/dragged out.  The fifteen second of silence that followed was deafening. And then we realized Scott was in the corner, crying. (insert surprised face here).

From what I have gathered here were the precipitating events:
Harry, Jane's son, won the grade four spelling bee the day before.
Scott, one of the bule teachers made some joke about it. to two other bule teachers.
Mary heard it or was told about it and she's the one that got upset
She came in screaming.

The bule boys were saying some awful things afterward. Saying she's crazy, she should be fired immediately, she was molested as a child, and also that it didn't matter if she was, that someone like that shouldn't be working with children. I said absolutely nothing.  I swear my teaching partner was trying to get me to weigh in and I finally said " I don't know enough about what happened or her to say anything so I won't".

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!  She left and Scott was calmed just about the time we all had class.  I came back after (40 minutes).  Jane asked if I would pay for the pizza her friend (Mary) had ordered since she had class.  She gave me the cash and left saying that the pizza was for "white faces, not yellow faces", meaning bules not Koreans.  Mary came in, I gave her the money.  She said sorry in Indonesian to John and I, as we were the only ones in the office. I opened the food.  Two pizzas, two salads, three containers of chicken wings and two liters of coke.  I made myself a plate and went to my desk. John did the same.  When the bell rang the first six people through the door were Koreans.  I sure as hell wasn't going to be the one to tell them the pizza wasn't for them. It wasn't long before the snide comments started, insinuating the pizza was poisoned, that she could've sprung for nicer pizza than Pizza Hut, etc. Mostly saying that pizza diplomacy wasn't enough.
Either way, I could do with a little more pizza and a little less screaming in my life.

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