Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thurs 1 April - Louis

So, there I was, sitting at the deserted train station (it always is), eating my sarnies, basking in the sun after having finished another day's teaching at Jemeppe-sur-Sambre, with only the sounds of the work towers and cargo trains speeding past me for company, when I get a phone call from a rather irate and frantic Louis. "What did I tell you before?" Why you not listen to me? What are you trying to do to me?" Basically, I hadn't sent him my timesheets in time, meaning I wouldn't be paid for this month's work. There was also a bit about him "looking stupid" and lots of high pitched yelling and other things I couldn't make out, with him drifting in and out of French every now and again as he tends to do.

I then had the joy of having to continue this conversation on a very quiet train carriage. It all just came down to a case of miscommunication. On his part. The problem is that his written and spoken English isn't good enough to explain to me what I need to do at the end of every month with regards to timesheets, travel expenses etc. And, whenever I try and explain things to him in English or French, he just ignores me. "Donc, you listen me and I make the conclusions, because you are making problems with me," he continued, as I sat there being told what I was supposed to have done.

Still, thanks to some quick handy work from C involving a scanner, I was able to send him the relevant details in time, ensuring I got paid for March's teaching, but not before he rang me again to to tell me that I had been buying the wrong type of train ticket for my journeys from Mons to JSS, and to change it from now on or lose being paid expenses.

All said in a rather unpleasant tone. Not really how you speak to someone, twice. But, you just have to bite your lip and I need the teaching.

Once I'd arrived back in Mons I had to deal with another case of miscommunication. Earlier in the week I had had a phone call from someone working as an intern at the Mons language school I've been doing teaching work for. In pigeon English I was told that they no longer wished to keep me on as they had found someone else who could work for them full time. I followed this up with an email in French to M, the secretary there, asking her to confirm this. As I hadn't heard back from her I decided to pop in on my way home. "No. We want that you stay in here, Benjemin. Mais, oui, bien-sûr." So, you do want to keep me on your books then?? Yes, no, probably. Who knows anymore.

Oh, and 'April Fools' Day' is known as 'Le Poisson d'avril,' where the joke is to stick a picture of a fish on someone's back. That explains the cut out fishes I saw this morning stuck to various seats on the train. By the end of the day I was in no mood to have any poissons stuck to my back.

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