Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chapter 7: Reactions

The rest of the evening of Richard's firing is kind of a blur. After Richard got off the phone he went down to let Carol and Marilyn know what had happened, then came back upstairs to talk to me about it (I was putting Rachel to bed). He said he'd been on the phone with a couple people at corporate, and there were several options for him for the rest of the summer. We just kind of tipped the iceberg of what were we going to do next and hadn't gotten that far into the conversation when Marilyn came running up the stairs to tell us that Graham was yelling at Carol on the phone. We booked it downstairs to make sure everything was okay.

By the time we got there she had hung up, but she let us know he was just making sure she was okay since he fired Richard. I think he was confused and thought she was his wife or something, I don't know. Basically Graham likes to make sure he's still on everyone's good side about everything, so he just wanted to butter Carol up a little. She was pretty diplomatic about the situation and just wanted to hear from Graham what the problem was and why he had to fire Richard. He said something about having already offered Richard another position (ha) and that was about the end of that conversation.

At this point we were all pretty filled with adrenaline about the whole evening. I took it upon myself to start a text war with Graham. Oh I need to back up: Have I mentioned I never got paid for all the scheduling I did in May? Caleb told me that Graham would get me paid the same that Kristy was getting paid, which I assumed to be $1600 or so. He told me I needed to send Graham an email and he would make sure I get paid. I sent the email early in June and never saw a dime. Honestly, I didn't expect to. Graham may promise the world on a silver platter, but he never tells the platter makers that they need to get the platter made, and whoever he did talk to doesn't know who can fit the world on it. I knew he didn't know any details about what he needed to get me paid, but I still wanted the money.

Here is our text war:

me: Can you pay me for scheduling all through May like I was promised? $2050 American. I'm going to have a hard time feeding my baby if my husband is fired.

Graham: $2050!!!!!!????? Did u never switch plans? I was told your phone bill was high for first week. So I said to tyler we would help. But I thought u would be ok (Who is Tyler? He obviously doesn't know who I am)

me: No that's salary for office you even know who I am? I was Caleb's office manager for May since you guys never hired anyone else.

(He didn't say anything for 10 minutes so I thought now was a good
time to start yelling)

me: I don't understand how you can do what you do. Do you have no conscience? No heart? Do you not realize what you're doing to people's lives? You only care about yourself and you're just going to end up empty. Completely heartless and full of lies. I just can't believe you.

(Half an hour later)

Graham: Well why r they not paying u? R u american? Let's not be mean. Let's get u paid. Keep in mind I have 150 people. I'm sorry I forgot I will work on it for u. Is your husband cdn. Can I pay him?

me: I was not hired because Caleb didn't want techs wives scheduling. I only did it because no one else was available. It was a favor that Caleb promised to pay me for. My cell phone bill was $1603. And yes my husband is Canadian, his name is Richard maybe you've heard of him?

Graham: I think your husband is great. But the way he fought me today saying it was a bad idea. We ended up doing 34 most quit early. (Not true. We did 41 and they knocked until 10:30) Then he said no to doing vistas. So now my reps r angry (no they're not). Your husband is great
but stubborn. If he walks away positive he will still have a job. (He has 3, thanks though) He needs to listen to his managers. (Here's a big part of the problem - Graham is NOT his manager, he's his partner. But he treats Richard like a slave, and that's not how it's supposed to be.)

Graham: And again. R region finished first with 4 offices (that's not true either, his region isn't even in the top 5). Next closest has 8 offices. So I'm not happy I got so much attitude (ok I was pretty rude in the meeting, but he was being a jerk). But the future will be better. Your husband is a great hard worker. I actually really like him. Just did not see eye to eye.

me: I don't know if you realize this but I know more about what's going on than you do. I can see through all your lies so you can stop feeding them to me. I just want to know if you're going to follow through on the promise you made to pay me. My cell bill in May was $1603 and in June it was $950. You promised me salary and that would have been $2050. I'll watch for it to come in through Richard's account.

Graham: I never talked to u. How did I promise anything. Good night.

me: Proof right there.

This is a good example of how he always talks to people. Once he gets cornered he just shuts down and runs away, thinking he still has the upper hand. This is also a good example of how I talked to him at the late night meeting. Not the nicest you've ever heard me, eh?

Oh and don't worry, I apologized to him for this whole rant a few weeks later. I really probably shouldn't have ever opened my mouth, but as you can imagine I was a little ticked off.

We spent the rest of the evening getting some ice cream and candy bars at Walmart, then played games with the kids while Richard talked to several people on the phone about what had happened. As it turned out, his tech crew was pretty upset about the whole thing. No wonder, considering how great of a manager Richard had been thus far. They held a meeting where they discussed a boycot/walkout where they'd all strike until Graham was reasonable and some other similarly silly ideas. Richard encouraged them just to do their work and get through this hard time without him. He still helped them out whenever they called throughout the summer and followed up on what happened after the fact, but it kind of all went downhill from there.

Now the original plan was that the crew would be in Slave Lake for the weekend and then come back and tear up Calgary with their renewed vigor for sales. That being the plan, Jesse left his wife and son behind to keep running the office. They found out on Monday, however, that Graham never had any intention of going back to Calgary. Another strike for him: What was he thinking? All the techs only brought 3 changes of clothes because he said that's all they'd need! Danny had left his wife and three kids behind as well, taking their only means of transportation. And they had only brought 5 days worth of equipment anyway! Ridiculous. If he had laid out this plan a little better I think people would have been more anxious to participate in his ludicrous trek across the small country of Canada...oh wait, Canada's kind of big, isn't it? But I'll get to that later.

I actually quite enjoyed having my husband in a jobless position. He had been working 16 hours a day for the past two months, and now we had a few days to spend time together. It was really nice :D We went to a movie with Rachel, which was fun because I wasn't sure it was going to be possible. She actually slept through Transformers II. But she was only 4 months old...

Two weeks ago we signed up to feed the missionaries the last week of June, which was the coming Sunday. I had to go to the Superstore on Friday anyway, so we figured we'd be able to find something. We were also planning to make Tres Leches for them, but I got a weird feeling that I shouldn't buy the stuff for it yet, so I didn't. Funny story...we decided that weekend to go move in with Gabe's office. Gabe was our sales manager in Portland our first summer together, and it was such an awful experience because he made weekend trips to a city 2 hours south all through August. So awful! Such a long drive! We hated it! Well, Gabe's crew is now living out of hotels hitting up any city they can find in northern Alberta, and that situation was far more appealing than staying with Graham. Anyway we got to church that Sunday and they asked us to speak in a couple weeks. We ended up leaving in the middle of the week, so that wasn't really about to happen. The missionaries cancelled our dinner date, though, not us :D

So that brings us to about my birthday and the exact middle of the summer. I think that's where we'll pick up next time :D

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T ... I told them what it means to ME

I'm sorry to digress once again from the Graham Saga. I felt a renewed urge to finish that earlier today, so the next chapter should be coming soon. I had an experience I really feel like writing about though, so here goes.

As you may know, I've been teaching German at Lehi High school since late August. It's been quite an experience, and I've really enjoyed it. Although I am a first year teacher and I'm quite laid back, my students are really learning the language. It makes me so happy to see their progress. They really are smart kids, and when they apply themselves they do so well.

Each of my classes has its own unique personality, and that makes teaching both challenging and interesting.

My first hour is very quiet and kind of awkward most of the time. There are only 8 students and on any given day at least 2 are missing, plus it's early in the morning so they're all asleep. My class is kind of dynamic, and their sleepiness makes it hard to be so. But we push through and they're doing great. They're kind of like my handicapped class...their teacher last year didn't teach them as well as he was supposed to, so we're trying to catch up from last year and push ahead with this year at the same time, and every day I'm reminded of things they should have learned but haven't yet.

My third hour is by far my best class. They're my first years, and I love them. They're doing so well. They get a little loud sometimes, and most of them are C average students who don't try very hard, but we have fun and they are learning German!

My fourth hour has always been my struggle. They are mostly sophomores, straight from the junior high where they took German 1 and 2. They are all friendly, and they're all friends with each other. This means that no matter where I put them, they will talk to their neighbors. I've given them a seating chart designed around partner work with the person nearest them, because they work really well in partners. There are three students who are actually in German 4, but they're not really at that level so they just work on the German 3 stuff I'm giving everyone else. This class is very noisy. I've worked hard all year getting them to understand my procedures and when I need them to quiet down so we can move on or transition to lecture, and they've gotten much better. I also struggle in this class for two other reasons. The biggest is that I'm not 100% up to snuff on my own German, and when I teach them something I don't know completely I kind of look silly. The second is related, and that is that I have an exchange student who obviously knows more German than me, and sometimes that causes conflict. Most of the time I look at the other side of the room when I'm teaching to pretend he's not there :D

Last week Rachel was sick with a high fever. I felt awful that I went to school on Tuesday with her in that state, so when she woke up still warm on Thursday I decided to stay home. I pulled together last minute plans for all my classes and got a sub very last minute, so it ended up being the school sub. Nothing wrong with that. She left me a nice note about each class, and for the first two it was the same. They were a good class, but some of the boys didn't do the assignment. I will now quote her note from my 4th hour:

"This was not a quiet class. Most of the students were quiet and did what they were assigned to do. However, there were some students that were noisy and loud, and didn't want to settle down when I spoke to them about the loud talking, laughing, and playing. One girl spoke up and said "Mrs. Graham, these students are showing you more respect than what they show their teacher." If this is true, I feel sorry for you. And then the girl said that the only time she was quiet was when she was asleep."


Ouch, right?

I was so mad. I got this note when I came in on Friday for our professional development day, and most of that day was wasted because I was so upset at my class. I had planned to spend the day getting ahead in all my classes and getting organized for the coming lessons, but instead I spent two hours being frustrated and planning my rebuttal to the class. I was annoyed when it was time for me to leave and I'd only gotten one class prepped for and none of my copies made or anything to show for my day except free pizza.

I spent the weekend formulating my coming diatribe. It went from very guilt-laden to very didactic to pretty reasonable and back again several times. What I ended up with was a speech that should have lasted about 5 minutes simply outlining what it was they had done wrong and the way I expect to be treated as their teacher.

I started out by quietly sitting on my desk. This is how I always start the day, and since I didn't say anything some students tried to quiet each other down so I could get class started. I appreciated that, and it made me feel like what I was about to do was probably a little unnecessary, but I had already made my decision.

I let the class know that I had worked incredibly hard to get to where I am as a teacher now, and that for that hard work I deserve to be respected. From the second they walk in the door they owe me respect, and they should give it for no other reason than that I'm an adult, older than them, and I'm in charge in my classroom. I let them know it was upsetting to get a note from a professional who they informed of their lack of respect for me, because now that person knows that I haven't earned the respect I deserve from my students. It was a lot better worded than that, but this was over a week ago so bear with me. Anyway, as some of you may know I have a problem confronting people. The problem of the leaky waterworks variety. It's annoying, but I think it helped get my point across. I ended by letting them know the class would be run very differently. We will be going back to Jr. High where you got your name written on the board for talking out of turn. In addition, there will be no fun activities in the future, and no partner work. No talking. And I won't be putting up with electronics or anything either, so don't even think about it.

I felt this lecture was really good for me as a teacher, and I feel it worked on a lot of levels. As I was talking I made it a point to look at every student in the class, not just the 5 or 6 I was specifically targetting with my remarks. As I looked it became clear that most of the class genuinely listened and cared about what I was saying. The few who knew I was talking to them were looking at the floor the entire time. I felt like I got my message across, and the non-problem students understood that it wasn't their fault.

The rest of the day was awesome. I gave them a worksheet and they worked on it silently for the entire class period. No one said a word. Every few minutes a student would come up and ask a question, and I felt like this exercise provided me with one-on-one opportunities I hadn't had time for before. I felt like everyone understood the concept beautifully that day. It was marvelous.

Since that day I've been more of my laid-back self in class, but I'm still not putting up with anything I don't feel I deserve. I haven't had to ask anyone to leave class, and I haven't had to take any cell phones. Thursday was another marvelous day. I gave everyone a writing assignment, and instead of all shouting out words they wanted me to look up for them, which is what usually happens, they all pulled out dictionaries and I didn't hear a word.

Anyway, just a little insert about my day of teaching. It would have been more dramatic sounding if I'd finished it the day I started when all the emotions were roiling, but you know how life goes.

And now back to The Graham Saga.