Between Scylla and Charybdis

There’s one of those vital skills that one needs to learn in one’s work life which is relatively difficult to practice: saying no. Some people have the ability to say “No” to something without offending people, or without being worried that they’ll be upset.

I don’t know how to do this. The general feeling I received from EPIK, while phrased as “Be accommodating” was more along the lines of “You can’t say no.” As a result of being told this, I have found myself with a (what’s the technical term here?) shit ton of extra classes, and will find myself spending a lot more time at school for the next month and a half at least (over and above all the extra time I spend here anyway).

Now, when EPIK told us this, I don’t think they had a place like my school in mind. They meant something more along the lines of “If your school has a dinner and you already have plans, it might be best to cancel your plans. Your friends will understand.” or maybe “If your school has some extra work for you, don’t immediately whip out your contract and point out that it’s not part of the deal.” I don’t think they meant “Your school is going to ask for your evenings and weekends and you’ll be often be working late, and you’re meant to take all of this without complaining.”

And yes, my school will neatly point out two things about my evening and Saturday classes – I’m being paid extra for them, at a rate higher than for normal additional classes.  Also, they’re not, technically, affiliated with the school. Besides, I’m being paid. More money. That’s fine, isn’t it?

How do I explain to my co-teachers that I need to maintain my own sanity? How do I do this without exclaiming (as I’ve wished to do for quite some time) “This school is sucking up my life?” or “Don’t you get enough out of me already?” or possibly:

Cartman says it best
Cartman says it best

And there are days (like the last month or so) when I doubt the resolve I first had when I arrived here to stay for two years (at least). I keep telling myself that I’d be an idiot to leave a school like this. I know people who applied through EPIK who would have killed to get my post – they envy me my cushy job.


Let’s analyse that, shall we?

Cushy (adj): involving little effort for ample rewards; easy and profitable

Profitable? Yes, but not as profitable as hagwon job. Most people can’t believe I don’t get paid more than the average public school NET. But certainly more profitable than I had back home. Close to three times as much as my lecturing job paid me.

Rewarding? Without a doubt. My students are better than everyone else’s. Just sayin’.

Easy? Involving little effort?

Ha. Ha ha ha.

A relatively appropriate gif.
A relatively appropriate gif.

So where do Scylla and Charybdis fit in here?

In The Odyssey,  Odysseus sails down a narrow channel. On one side is Scylla, a six headed sea monster perched on a rock. On the other side is Charybdis, a deadly whirlpool. Avoiding the monster meant sailing too close the whirlpool, and vice versa.

(This might be the only thing I remember from trying to read and study Ulysses.)

For example:

Do I say “Yes” to my school, and give my free time and my sanity? Or do I say “No” and suddenly appear disagreeable and inflexible, and thereby reduce my chances of renewing my contract?

Or, for a further example:

Do I stay on another year, in hopes that next year will not be like this year (I have it on good authority that last year was less work, so perhaps it will go back to that) even though I have no assurances that it will, nor any right to ask?

Or do I go home and face uncertainty, unemployment and moving back in with my mom?

(As you might have guessed, my smaller details of my job situation have fed into my current, larger concern of “Do I stay or do I go?”, a question which is never far from my mind these days)


4 thoughts on “Between Scylla and Charybdis

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