Two things you automatically have going for you when you’re a foreign exchange teacher and things go wrong:
1. You are foreign and your manner is often chalked up as being an unfortunate result of your nationality.
2. Eventually you will leave the country.
Ultimately you can get away with being strange or a little bit crazy. Even better, if it’s necessary, the excuse that you’ve moved to another country can legitimately be used.
I suggested that my principal use that very excuse on my behalf the next time Gertrude Brown called to demand I give her $1,000. In two weeks, I would be returning to the United States after one year of teaching in Adelaide, South Australia. So, indeed, I was leaving the country. Maybe that knowledge would finally shut Trudy up.
Early in the 2010 academic year, I had confiscated her son Trent’s mobile phone after he took it out during class to text and show it off to his classmates.
When Trent, who was a whinger to begin with, argued that I had no right to take his phone, Mitchell, the class clown, piped up, “You know she told us we can’t use mobiles in class, Trent.” Ignoring that Mitchell next leaned back in his seat and placed his feet up on the table, I stood in front of Trent with my arm extended, palm upright.