On Midnight Runs (and why I understand why people do it)

Before we begin:

1. A midnight run is the term used for when an EPIK teacher leaves their contract early, and disappears onto the first flight home. Notably, with a midnight run, the teacher does not inform the school that they are leaving.

2. I don’t intend to do a midnight run. My apologies to everyone who had built up a tiny bit of hope that I’d be coming home. You’ll just have to keep missing me.

A few months ago, I couldn’t understand why anyone would do a midnight run. It seemed to be the most ridiculous thing in the world. Surely you knew from the beginning that this deal was for a year, at least. And if you did the least amount of research then, well… you knew this wasn’t going to be all candyfloss and bunnies, right?

But here’s the thing: a midnight run is a move of desperation. I don’t think that you would do it if you didn’t think you could carry on for another minutes, never mind the sixty days notice you’d have to give in order to legally end your contract before its official end. While I’m not the sort of person to do that kind of run (nor can I afford to pay the flight allowance back to EPIK. I bought a laptop with that), I do understand that desperation.

Every EPIK teacher I’ve spoken to, both those who are happy and those who aren’t, have got a situation or two complain about. Those of you who missed it can read about my little breakdown a while back. I feel like I don’t have the right to complain. This is the kind of school that people wish they could be placed at. It’s just… this can get a little bit much. But what do I have to complain about, when compared to other people? People who have trouble controlling their classes, who have unresponsive, unruly, and unpleasant students, who have unhelpful (or even completely absent) co-teachers in schools where no one speaks any English whatsoever?

(I occasionally feel like I’m doing the first world problems version of EPIK teaching:

How I imagine people see me when I complain about my job.
It’s a very real problem!

I know that this is what I sound like. I know.)

But there are some people that just don’t last at this school. And every now and then I can understand why. And I imagine it would be better for me – some days – if I did run off. Teaching is job with a learning curve comparable to Kilimanjaro. And when there are all kinds of extra problems added to it – unhelpful co-teachers, uncooperative students – and missing one’s home, friends and family… it all adds up.

All those factors can make you desperate. And a midnight run is a desperate move. And while I would suggest pushing through the problems, doing lots of research and talking to people who can advise you, or who will just listen to you vent – that desperation is one I understand. After I started teaching last year, I was looking for a new job within the first two months. I went for interviews and I found that the only thing that sounded worse than my job in the UAL was a job at a call centre.

I don’t think this post has a point. It doesn’t have advice. I guess… it’s just to say that it happens. And if you know someone who runs off… don’t judge them too harshly.

That being said… I laugh at the people who ran out of fear of North Korea.

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