Woe woe woes at work

There’s a work conundrum I’m trying to figure out. My co-worker’s being a bit weird and not (really) to me, but to the kids. This is eating at me a bit.

My boss came up to me yesterday and said she had just gotten off the phone with the parent of a long-time pupil who was furious about what this colleague of mine had said. Something about not paying for the courses. It never became clear to me why this was offensive. She wanted to know how the class was and if I had any idea. We both agreed immediately that this wasn’t the type of girl who’d lie about the situation. I only mentioned to my boss that it was a tough class because they hated each other earlier and only this year have I had any fun with them. Also I know without a doubt that they don’t like/think my colleague isn’t cool, which I mentioned of course, so the situation was clear.

So there’s a few things that are possible: the girl didn’t understand what was said (which I doubt), it wasn’t serious and she didn’t catch the irony/humor, it was an earnestly bitchy statement. I can’t rule out any of them. My boss takes offending clients seriously, so she’ll have to watch her mouth no matter what occurred. She is also worried because this is the third girl who have come up to her and said I don’t think she likes me and I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid you’d get mad and as she very rightly mentioned, if the Greeks here start turning against her, there’ll be no stopping it. But all I’m thinking about are the other girls that think that, but don’t haven’t said anything.

Because I know for a fact. I see the eye-rolling and whispered jokes and I know that my oh-so-cool teenies make fun of her. And I’ve certainly said to my boss once or twice I think they just don’t get her humor. A Greek girl, who grew up speaking German as a native language, fell in love with English and then lived in Ireland for years, lost her job and decided to come teach English. Maybe she’s got that black Irish humor, hell I don’t even get that nonsense half the time. But I don’t know.

I’m concerned. I’m concerned that she is playing favorites with the students who speak perfect German and making snarky comments to girls when she senses that they don’t like her. That isn’t fair and I hate to imagined my girls being subjected to that. Hey that’s life, I know but they are still kids after all and the adult in this situation should be mature enough to realize that you can’t take these comments to heart. It’s not about you, it’s about the lesson. It’s great when the kids like you, but that’s not our job.

I remember the first year I was here. There were some really trying situations where the older girls were giving me the bitchy-I’m-way-hotter-than-you-attitude and I didn’t play into it, because I was 24 not 18. But I remembered thinking, if this happened two years ago, I’d be devastated. 

It can be hard to remember to be the adult sometimes and being a good example in front of the kids can be exhausting.

But let me take a step back. Because I don’t want to be too quick to judge. I was wrong about the new physics teacher. She was making eyes at the bf, before she knew we were together… that didn’t help her case… but we’ve become very chummy at work and have a good laugh over our language struggles.

I’ve been dead wrong about people before. I’ll be wrong again. I try so hard not to make snap judgments. I try to keep re-evaluating my opinion of acquaintances. I’ve been trying so hard all year not to dislike her. I tried to be welcoming. I had her over at mine and it was a good chat. I told her about an English speaking group, but she “couldn’t manage it until next year”, at my boss’s suggestion I reluctantly asked her for a bit of occasional Greek help, which she declined being busy. I’ve tried to be patient with the learning curve at the beginning. I’ve come to realize that she’s totally German in her inability to make small talk and her reluctance to verbally communicate things, preferring notes instead. And so I’ve adapted.

I’m not trying to be best buds, that won’t happen, but personally I feel like my extended-open hand has been pushed aside.

I’m living in Germany. I know that I have to deal with this direct, confrontational work environment, they don’t have to change for me. I just wish it could be pleasant and not always so serious.

What I’m on the fence about is whether or not these underlying currents of disrespect and resentment I feel coming my way from time to time (like when I go home one class earlier on Sat.~I work a second job ~yo) are real or if I’m just projecting. The bf has a good sense for this. He always calls bull when I fret too much about my boss.  And I don’t know what the kids are doing. Kids are mean man. I don’t know how I’d react. Maybe they deserve it.

Two separate things to mention still, first with our new projector for the younger kids, we’ve taken to locking the door so the kids don’t get any ideas. Well in my room there was the biology teacher with a class. I needed to use my room obviously I opened up the third locked room and told him in Greek to go on over. It was a teacher who’s been teaching once a week a few years now. He’d be over before the boss got in. She came and tried to stop me saying that I should stay in the room and not switch. My stuff was in the other room and I didn’t feel like having a complicated chat in Greek. And I think it wasn’t a big deal. So I said no. and she said to me point blank, some thing along the lines of if anything happens it totally your responsibility and I wanted nothing to do with it and fine you know him, not me.   

I remember staring at her with an open-jaw. First, that she was so direct and second, that she felt that I was so irresponsible that maybe I’d go tattling to our boss and blaming her for it. Couldn’t hide my face that well. She definitely saw my disbelief and later after the lesson tried to explain just that it’s better that we always take the room. And I agreed with her to shut her up. But I noticed however strongly she felt, she didn’t offer up her room. No her room is under lock and key to protect her plants.

Later I went to the boss, told her none of that, just said that it was my idea and I hope that it was ok. They were in my room and since my lessons were in their prepared, I didn’t think it’s be a problem to move them over. She also thought it was no big deal and that was that. But afterwards I was still shocked and decided if that’s how she wanted to play things, forget pleasantries.

It goes on and on it’s all spilling out. I’ve been holding it in too long.

Last week she was surprised I was speaking German with the kids. Hello, where you’ve been this whole year?

The second point: before any Americans reading this start to say oh hey, man chill out, just be cool. It doesn’t work like that. Last year I got bitched out by my 30+ Greek acquaintance’s MOTHER in the middle of a crowded square because the one time we had gone out together and had a nice time, she took my query about meeting Americans since she works  near a base, as a command to go out and have orgies with American soldiers, etc etc etc. And then told her mother.

So no thank you, I will not underestimate the European women tendency to wind themselves up in a jealous fit and lash out when you least expect it. I live my life happily in Germany and I like my work and the bf. I know I’m lucky and I don’t go around flaunting it. But I understand that an insecure women will bristle when I get attention from the curious, no matter how much I downplay it and that’s why I don’t bother going out anymore, or meeting new people. The bf is much more drama free.

So I guess all I have to say is that despite my efforts to the contrary I do rather dislike her. But how well she does her job is none of my business. I just want to make sure my girls are taken seriously when they complain.

Tomorrow I’m gonna hear all about it and I still haven’t gotten an explanation from my boss.


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