Lao TaiTai

Every now and then I run into people that deserve a blog all to themselves… This American woman that is around 60 years old…..we will call her Lao TaiTai… is one of those people……This incident proves that China isn’t for everyone.

Let me just tell you not that I look back on it…… I didn’t listen to my gut about her… I just thought is a nice, mature, white lady .. that the Chinese leaders will like.  He skills are not super high but she says… she is a quick learner.

I was hesitant when she didn’t know what the difference between the IELTS and TOEFL tests.. but I figure she was new to China… and that she could be taught……. I figured….. I assumed…. I know … I know….. But… I have African teachers, Philippine Teachers, and Chinese Teachers  and some UK teachers that are on the way……. so American white teachers is necessary…. in China… it is a leader requirement.  (I know it is racist, but you cant change a countries thinking.) … so against my better judgement – I did the Chinese thing and hired her because of her face, to make my supervisors, the people that pay me… happy. (if you have every lived in China you will understand) 

The trouble began when she was arriving….. she took the fast train from her former city, which was about 3 hours away……we received a photo of her ticket.. so we would know when she would be arriving.  I had my boss go wait for her at the train station….. 4 hours later than her ticket time of arrival …… she arrived…(she didn’t answer her phone when we had tried to call it several times) . it seemed that she has missed her stop … well she knew it was her stop but she didn’t get off the train fast enough … so the train continued on to the next stop…. where she got off….(by the way, her phone didn’t work because she didn’t have it on) ….. but not knowing Chinese… she didn’t know how to communicate where she needed to go.   So she panicked… and started shouting at people in the train station and at the security people in English.o-OUTRAGE-570

Finally, they found someone that spoke enough English to tell her… they were putting her back on the train and she did not need to pay.  Evidently that was what they had been trying to tell her all along however, she couldn’t understand them and was to panicked to take the new ticket they were handing her.

I felt .. this could happen to anyone….I gave her the benefit of the doubt….. so .. I calmed her down… when she finally arrived and proceeded with showing her the new apartment… and showed her a few times how to get to work .. and the address in Chinese that she can show a taxi driver.  However, the first day she came to work on her own….. she got lost….. and proceeded to shout on the phone that she didn’t know where she was and she didn’t know Chinese… and no one was helping her.

furious-little-boy-frustrated-shouting-holding-head-hands-standing-isolated-white-44851909 I tried to get her to use the GPS feature on her phone so we could find her… however, she didn’t know how to use the phone properly and that caused her to be more upset.  We tried to get her to describe her surroundings… however she was too panicked to tell us where she was….. I tried to get her to give the phone to a Chinese person so we could ask them where she was… but she couldn’t do that either because it seemed Chinese people were avoiding her due to her shouting at them in English…… after about 45 minutes on the phone we finally figured out that she was only a block from her apartment on the main street… so we sent someone to get her.

I noticed that this was starting to be a pattern….. when something didn’t go as planned she would lose her temper, shout and cuss at everyone and was basically, uncontrollable.  This continued to happen… in the school cafeteria she shouted and cussed at the servers.. .because they gave her too many quail eggs….(when they are required to give 5 eggs each person)…. she shouted and cussed at the ticket counter.. when her ticket she bought on TripTic… didn’t show up in the computer system..(which we advised her to buy the ticket at the station but she refused) .. she shouted and cussed… when she couldn’t find files on her own computer that she has saved but had forgotten where…… (this was a continued issue… of not knowing how to use her own computer and the computer in the classroom) … these often resulted in bursts of uncontrollable anger.

Even when other Chinese teachers tried to assist her with her personal things… like ordering online, having an umbrella installed on her electric bike, etc.. she didn’t trust them not to mess it up… so she shouted and cussed at them.. to the point that they refused to help her.

I would have been able to try to deal with her outbursts… and anger issues… if she taught well.  However, all the students complained about her classes…. stating that they couldn’t understand her… and that she spoke to fast… and everything was just too difficult…on top of the fact she seemed to have an attitude  that we only had her teaching one vocabulary class.

I gave her training, and watch demo classes, and gave written evaluations and warnings…. in which she continued to tell me… that her teaching ability was fine and that she didn’t remember any anger issues ever happening.  She seemed to …black out…. when she went into these fits of rage.. and not remember … what she said or what she did…… It was to the point that she said… she wished we would tape her… to prove that she had these fits of rage; Because she just cannot believe it was happening.  No one had every mentioned that to her before….. (I can only assume that people were being polite)

I made a suggestion that she watch another teacher teach the “vocabulary class” she was teaching… so she could get a feel of how other teachers taught it.   She lost her mind and said that was an insult to her and she taught the class the only way it could be taught……

I was in total shock about it….. she was not even open to learning from another teacher.  I have honestly never met anyone that handled stress or pressure in that way… just basically throwing a fit .. like a child…. even covering her ears …. at that age.. I was just at a loss for words….. This kind of behavior is difficult to deal with in America… but in China.. it is worse… and an embarrassment….. I was really embarrassed by her behavior.

When I informed my supervisor of the difficultly I was having with this teacher… he just to me to make it work….. I knew this was due to the fact that he wanted a white faced teacher here, for advertising purposes….. Since, in China it is a dictatorship…. I could do nothing… until……

She lost her temper in front of the boss…. and shouted at him…… even though she has shouted at everyone else on campus.. even her direct supervisor – ME!…. he only changed his mind when she shouted at him…… the  preverbal straw that broke the camels back…..

Directly after that .. he called me into his office and said….. “fire her”….. that was that……I let her go after the weekend….. she insisted that she was doing an excellent job, and had not raised her voice to anyone in the school…. and that we were making it all up….. I calmly told her…. whether you think the decision is correct or not… we do not think you are a good fit here. ……. that she accepted…. she said… so . … you are letting me go because I am not a good fit with the school…… I said … okay?…(evidently she had forgotten all the other reasons… and only heard what she wanted to hear)

What I have learned from this experience — First, follow my gut.. if I feel something is not right … it is usually not right… Second, don’t hire people based on the color of their skin.. .no matter what your bosses and leaders tell you….. and Third, always keep your self control… punching people in the throat not acceptable…(I didn’t do that .. but boy .. did I want to)

until next time…




12 thoughts on “Lao TaiTai

  1. As I read this I was thinking the entire time, why is she even teaching in China. She doesn’t seem to like Chinese society, its culture, and language given that she easily gets angry and was lashing on people. Maybe this attitude didn’t work well for her in her home country either. How long has she lived in China?

  2. Lori

    I wonder if she could be showing signs of Alzheimer’s. i understand that she could just be a bad person/teacher, but that is what it sounds like to me.

    1. that is interesting that you say that…. I wondered if she had gotten in a head accident or something… because… I have experience with people with head injuries that have short tempers and black out moments….

      1. Lori

        I bring it up because years ago a coworker’s father-in-law showed the same symptoms. He was a stick of dynamite ready to go off at any moment. His personality changed to much. She was afraid to leave her kids around him even though his wife was there. He was cursing out people left and right. He was diagnosed a couple of years after this.

  3. Aurolyn

    This was a very unfortunate incident, that is more common than you think. I applaud you for “keeping your cool”. Good luck on teachers in the future.

  4. Kavita

    OMG, Jo, you and your team really went through a lot here. Wow, kudos to how you handled it with so much patience. Hope your boss can finally understand that it’s best to hire people based on their skills and abilities rather than their skin colour, tho I admit it’s difficult in Asia especially if the management wants to make the company look international and by international, it means white. Fact of life, but hope it will change especially looking from incidents such as this.

  5. anonymous

    Well… I didn’t expect things to change over night but it’s been 7 years and they still racist:

    He didn’t listen to you because your black. I’m surprised he ended up firing her. China is a follower because they always try to save face and they don’t like being different. Currently we have a bigot (Trump) in the White House and Britain is going through their own biggots in the government. So we have two super powers who have leaders that are clearly ignorant and China is just following their lead.

    The Chinese are racist. The are ignorant. And worst of all they are fake. They will smile in your face and trash you behind your back. Not all Chinese but some. I don’t want to stereotype them. But I’m sure your boss won’t think twice to get you to find a white person and then quickly promote them. Careful. Might find yourself at the bottom of the food chain. Good thing she was fired.

    1. well I will have to disagree with you about somethings you stated. Chinese is better than before…I have been here 10 years and there has been many positive changes regarding racism. 1st ..10 years ago they would have never had a black woman as the principal of the university…. 2nd, Even in America if you have too many black people or too many international people and no white people… they will try to balance it out. 3rd, there was a white Canadian man in my position before I got here… and they fired him… and put me in his place .. due to my skills and experience.. so I am not worried about my job….. I consider the Chinese employment system a game…. just like Corporate America…. I have learned to play the game to get ahead…. So… I have solidified my position in this university…. (it helps that my husband is Chinese and works here too) …. I will hire white faces.. because that is how the game is played.. but I will check their Attitude and skills.. before.

      1. Lori

        “. I have learned to play the game to get ahead…. ”

        And that is what Americans do not get. You either play the game to your advantage (and beat them at it) or get played.

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