helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

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Permission to Engage Fist of Death?

Oooh, I'm in a bad mood.

Reason #1: Extremely rude mothers of students.
I had a student who didn't show up for her lesson on Saturday 17th December. Today (Thursday 29th December) her mother rang me to arrange another lesson. Here is a brief lesson in how to wind up the h-l:

1) Ring me up, and pretend that nothing has happened, you're just trying to arrange a lesson for your darling daughter. Do not apologise for the missed lesson.
2) When questioned about the missed lesson, cite "There was a death in the family" is a get out of jail free card. Continue to not apologise.
3) When I point out that it highly inconvenienced me to not know that the student wasn't coming, continue to cite "We had some family problems" and still continue to not apologise.
4) Fail to appreciate that getting the h-l out of bed 2 hours earlier than she needed to is a criminal offence. Also, fail to appreciate that cancelling without notice meant that the cancelled lesson occupied a slot that another student could have taken. Very grudgingly apologise.
5) Fail to appreciate that I actually lost money as a result of your no-show. Do not offer to pay for the missed lesson.
6) Fail to appreciate that it would have taken 30 seconds to send me a quick text message to say "Sorry, can't come, will explain later."

Had she rung me up today and said "Oh my God, I'm so sorry about the other Saturday, there was a sudden death in the family and we completely forgot about the lesson" I would have been mollified. Shit happens, y'know? No problem, thanks for the explanation. Had she rung me perhaps last week, as soon as either the mother or the daughter remembered about the missed lesson, that would have been better - but starting off with an apology would still have been the way to go. Had they managed to cancel on the actual day, well, I wouldn't have minded at all. I actually don't mind people cancelling with little notice if there is a good reason, and can even cope with no notice if I get to go back to bed. As it is, she's just rude, and I really do want to engage the Fist of Death now.

Reason #2: Teachers of English who don't understand basic points of English grammar.
I'm pretty busy at the moment doing holiday tuition at a college for Asian students, where they go for extra lessons to help with English. Today at work I saw a set of "Essay rules" written on a whiteboard for students to copy down. These rules included the following sentence:
"ALWAYS check you're sentences carefully before writing them down."

I need to cry. That was written by a trained teacher of English, in advance of the lesson. And no, it wasn't a "spot the deliberate mistake" thing. The place isn't very well soundproofed, and I could hear the lesson as it progressed, mainly because the woman has an even higher-pitched, squeakier, more annoying voice than I do ;)

I know I sometimes write some complete crap on the board, but I usually realise within a minute and apologise to the students - or they even notice and point it out. These rules sat on the board for more than 2 hours, unchallenged. During the break time when I went to do some photocopying and saw the room was empty, I was so tempted to go in and rub out the extraneous apostrophe and e. When I went to leave after my class and heard the two English teachers in there chatting, I wanted to hit them both about the head and say "Who was responsible for this atrocity?".

What is wrong with people that they don't get the differences between "to, too & two", "there, their & they're" and "your & you're"? Dyslexics have an excuse, if the letters get jumbled and they genuinely can't see it - I have no problem with them. People who haven't been taught English grammar properly maybe have an excuse, although there do now exist books and snarky livejournal usericons to explain things. English teachers have no excuse. Especially if you're teaching young English as an Additional Language students, who absolutely require that you get it right.

My students even tell me that I'm better at teaching them English grammar than most of their English teachers :/

Reason #3: Impractical female footwear.
Gah. Shopping for boots. It sucks.

I have been trying to find boots that fulfill the following 4 criteria:
1) Are warm - insulated or fur-lined.
2) Are waterproof.
3) Have sensible, flat soles with good grip.
4) Are non-animal.

Do you think I could find boots like this? Hell, no.

I went all over bloody Kingston trying to find boots. I'm not joking - I went into every shop that sells female footwear, bar 2 or 3. I found lots of warm, insulated boots, and even plenty that were cheap enough to be made from fake rather than real leather. But what do you think the soles were like?

Less grip than my goddamned carpet slippers!

Ai ai ai. I want boots that are suitable for the winter, for walking on icy roads and possibly in snow. A good grip is essential.

I know I'm harder on boots than most people, because I roll my ankles, and have a tendency to drag at least one foot when tired. In a year, I can wear the soles of a pair of Doc Martens completely smooth, so they are a centimetre lower than when new. Nonetheless, I do feel that, in a country where larger amounts of snow fall, sensible footwear would have been easier to obtain.

I went to camping shops, where I got my snowboots last year. Nothing. Just walking boots, and insanely expensive ski boots (£500!).
I went to snowboarding shops. Only trainers, and a pair of huge "Animal" fun-fur covered boots, that had decent grip, but wouldn't fit under any trousers.
I went to cheap shoe shops. Only boots with high heels (quilted boots with stilettos?!) or absolutely no grip at all.
I went to expensive shoe shops. Here, everything was real leather, and started at £75 even in the sales. Oh, but still no grip. Managed to find a pair of Timberland boots that were adequately grippy, but they were a) yellow and b) suede. Brilliant. Let's make winter boots out of the most un-waterproof form of leather there is!

I went to New Look (a cheap clothes shop). Found a pair of boots that fulfilled all of criteria 1-4, but didn't fulfill criterion 5 ("Available in my size"). They had sizes 5 and 8 only. I'm a size 6 - the most common women's size in the UK. Yay.

I went to both Mark One and Primark (really cheap clothes shops, where the clothes mostly fall apart after 2 washes). Their boots, 5 or 6 designs apiece, were all high-heeled, lacking in grip and made of fake suede. O.M.G.!

I went to Talbots, an American clothes shop that is based in Boston and New York, where they have Real Winter. Oh, but the boots? One design insulated with high heels, one design insulated with no grip, and one design that was no warmer than my Docs. Please don't tell me that women in Boston wear these boots, because I won't believe you.

I went to department stores. Had to deal with the screaming rugby scrum (with handbags!), and women who were hogging two seats so that they could spread all the shoes they wanted to try on over the second seat instead of putting them on the floor like sensible people.

Eventually, in Bentalls, which was the last shop I visited, I found some boots. Yep - I know that whenever you look for something, it's always in the last place you look, because after that you stop looking, but it was the last shop in the whole of Kingston that I knew for certain sold footwear. Seriously! I managed to find three pairs of "biker boots" that are warm - fur-lined, waterproof - made of fake leather, have sensible, flat soles with good grip, and are non-animal - fake fur & fake leather. Plus, they are not femme. (They're not really biker boots either, but they were probably the butchest boots in the entire women's department). One of the three pairs fitted me and even had enough space for my toes without gaping all round the back (ailbhe will know exactly what I mean, she describes herself as having "duck feet" & mine are like that too - very broad toes, very narrow heel). And they were £17.

I'll just have to ignore the fact they were made in China, and that at £17, it's possible that the workers were earning all of 1p per boot. After 4 hours (2 hours on Tuesday and another 2 hours today) and with low blood sugar and a great deal of rage, I didn't have the energy to argue. Besides, it's possible even if I paid £75 for them that the workers could be earning 1p :/

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