Final day and saying goodbye

Since I didn’t know what to do, I decided to resume my teaching. But I was resolved to never meet the principal, or his assistants, again. Looking for a new job already, possibly at the other side of the city, I planned to leave the school as soon as possible.

Italian teacher, as well as some other females gave me strange looks in the dining room. They might have been sleeping with the principal, or satisfy his dirty desires in some other way around, and found it perfectly all right. But I knew I wasn’t alone in the situation, and certainly no other school had higher fluctuation rates than this one….


Students didn’t want me to leave

One thing that kept me going were my students. We managed to build a good relationship together, and I really felt they were progressing in their French. I actually started to give tutorage classes to three of them, which helped to make even more money.

The principal never approached me again. As before, you could hardly see him in the corridors. He came before anyone else and left when we all gone home already. I got no more flowers or sweets–which didn’t really bother me.

Nevertheless I had this strange feeling everyday, especially when I found myself in an empty corridor. I was scared he may appear somewhere there, and attack me from the back. But the Spanish teacher ensured me it won’t happen. “He has enough women that are willing to do everything for him,” said she to me one day when the two of us stayed alone in the cabinet.

I didn’t really know what to think…. At one side, the women were single (apparently one of the secret job requirements), so they could have sexual relationship with whomever they pleased. On the other hand I couldn’t get what attracted them to the principal. He was old, far from handsome, and tried to seduce way too many women. It must have been just the money he paid them, that extra part of the salary. Once you understood the entire scope of our job, the pay check didn’t look so high anymore….


Getting fired

My probation period was about to end in two weeks time. I was sure of neither staying nor leaving. French teachers weren’t in demand in the middle of the school year, especially those looking just for temporary vocation in Singapore. Nevertheless, as it happens many times in our lives, the situation got eventually resolved without my intervention.

On Friday morning, I found a dismissal on the table in the cabinet. One red rose was attached to the letter. I was fired, during the probation period. Packing my things I said goodbye to the Spanish teacher, and walked out of the building. I knew I would never return to that place….


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Second meeting with the principal

Six weeks had passed since my very first day at Singapore’s school. I felt already established in the city, and had a pretty stable schedule. Life had a sweet taste again, and I started dating one of my neighbours. Long forgotten were the strange occasion of the first month, together with a very personal job interview that I had to face.

It was then that the secretary of the principal approached me in the cabinet, early morning. She said that her boss wanted to talk to me again, on the very same day at 4pm. Four pm, a strange time indeed. Everyone’s back home so late in the afternoon, both teachers and students. Myself I typically left the place at three. And so I asked the secretary whether we could not move the meeting to an earlier hour. The answer was negative.


Flowers, sweets, and the first pay check

It probably wasn’t a coincidence that the invitation for a meeting came after I got my first pay check–the highest one I’ve ever got for teaching. I actually earned twice as much in Singapore as I did in my last teaching stop in Thailand.

When I walked to the principal’s office, the corridors were empty. I met just one cleaning lady, who gave me a strange look. As if she wanted to say, “Yeah, I knew you would come one day“.  I didn’t pay attention though. I hoped the secretary will still be there–she probably never leaving before her boss does, which provided me with a sense of security. I approached the office and knocked the door. It was the principal who opened–the secretary had already gone home….


Flattering, flirting, and more

The guy asked me straight away about the first pay check. If I was satisfied and all of those things. He kept pointing out that female teachers earned better at his institution than anywhere else, and that he knew how much women deserve for a quality service.

Then he asked me about my new boyfriend, and that’s actually when things started to get scary, since I had no idea he knew I had one. I gave a gloomy answer and asked him to leave. He held my hand. “Did you like the flowers and the sweets I left for you in the cabinet?” So it was him who sent the gifts … I was feeling more and more uncomfortable and didn’t give any answer.

Don’t be shy. I know the girls of your type, the traveling teachers. We’ve had many of them here….”

I wanted to leave at once. But he held my hand, and started touching me. He pressed his body close to mine, and actually tried to undress me. That was enough. I was a traveling teacher, and he knew a lot about me. But the bastard was not going to get it so easily. I hit him to the face with a free hand, and he retreated. I said I was sorry, and left. In a flash I understood all the concept of this strange school, and the early morning meetings assistant principals held in their offices.

I ran away from the building. He was not chasing me. I wanted to go to police at once, but then I decided to consult things first. I called the Spanish teacher, and my new boyfriend. He was very upset about the situation and said hew would pay a visit to the principal. But the Spanish teacher said I should take it easy, that the old pervert won’t try it another time. She said that he had a shot on her as well, but didn’t succeed. Italian teacher was a different story.


Starting to understand the concept

I understood the concept at once. The gifts, so many young single teachers, so many females. The ghosts in the corridors, the security cameras and everything. That school was ran by a pervert, or possibly even a group of them. I decided to start looking for a new job, keeping the distance from the principal….



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Finally a Job Interview

Many things in life have an order. You firstly conceive and just then give a birth. You have to finish the elementary school before you can proceed to the secondary. And I always thought that getting is job belongs to the category–you firstly send an application, then pass an interview and finally get employed. In Singapore, however, things happened in a strange order. I firstly worked for a month at school, and just then they invited me for an interview. I was finally about to meet the school principal.


Well prepared for the interview

I am a perfectionist–you probably noticed so far. My mother used to tell me: “Charlotte, with your perfectionism no man will ever be good for you.”

I don’t agree with her but it’s true that I am still single in my late twenties. Nevertheless, I didn’t underestimate anything in my preparation for the meeting with the mysterious man. I was sure that both students and my colleagues gave just the best feedback on me and the lessons we had together, but still–I’m a perfectionist. On the top of that I was in a probation period, so if they wanted, they could have sacked me basically for any reason.

I have went through some common teacher interview questions, and mocked some creative answers in French. This is the ritual I do before every interview, regardless of country and language. It helps me to get rid of anxiety and feel more confident. On the big day I felt good, though little scary. I saw pictures of the principal on the walls, but never met a man in person. I just saw these young teachers passing from his doors early in the morning.

Strange interview

I’d call the meeting anything but professional. Not a single question was asked about my experience or education, and I wasn’t put to any test (whether personality or IQ). The principal had a strange look in his eyes, and I couldn’t help feeling he was flirting with me. Well in his fifties, I wasn’t interested in that kind of a connection. But I tried to play a nice attentive teacher, and didn’t mind an occasional smile or smirk of the face. He was the head of a school after all, and I didn’t feel like looking for a new job.

All the question he asked were rather personal. Where did I live, if I had a boyfriend, how did I find the life in Singapore, why I kept traveling and taking temporary vacations instead of settling down somewhere, starting the family. Definitely not the questions you’d get in a professional interview.

I didn’t feel like talking much, but tried to give him brief answers to all questions. We had a coffee and he actually let his secretary bring two cakes. The meeting was strange but not completely unpleasant.


Next steps

When it seems we were done with the interview, I asked him about the next steps. If they were satisfied with me, and if I could stay for the six months or even for a year. He said he’ll let me know, and that we’ll have another meeting before the end of my probation period.  Then the devil asked me about my plans for the upcoming weekend. I said I was busy.

We shook hands, and I left the room. It was eleven in the morning and my next class was about to start. What a revelation, I thought. I didn’t feel awkward anymore about not meeting the school leaders before. I was satisfied with my teaching and the students. This strange old guy wasn’t really my type, no need to meet him another time.

From then things went on pretty ordinary. I taught French, enjoyed the parties during the weekends, and made some friends outside of school. I forgot the strange interview with the principal, the security cameras, and the ghosts that kept following me. I had no idea what was yet to come….

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Security cameras, ghosts, morning visits

As the second week approached, I started to notice strange things. It’s obviously important to protect the building from thieves (though a robbery comes highly unlikely in Singapore), but it was the first time I found security cameras directly in the classrooms. It felt strange that somebody (and who?) could have observed me in the lessons all the time. The camera was directly in the light bulb, so if you didn’t know the stuff you wouldn’t even discover it.


Ghosts and followers

I often heard footsteps behind me in the corridor. Actually everywhere I went, I felt somebody was right in my heels. But anytime I stopped and looked around, the corridors were either empty, or people seemed to not take notice of me.

Strange things kept happening also in the school cafeteria. Sometimes, when I had a free hour, went there to grab a donut and a cup of coffee. Strange enough, I never encountered another woman there. Just few male teachers (and there weren’t many in the school), a couple of empty plates and cups on the tables. I never came to found out who drank that coffee and why they left exactly as I was to come by.


Morning visits to the principal

Since I hadn’t bought a car yet and didn’t have a good connection to work, I used to come pretty early. At least forty five minutes before the start of the first lesson. strange enough, principal and assistant principals were already in office.

What’s more, I often noticed one of the female teachers, or even one of the last grade students walking out of the door of their offices. I wondered what they’d been doing there so early in the morning, but didn’t have courage to ask. After all I was new in the school, and though I already made some friends in my neighbourhood, I hadn’t really managed to befriend one of the teachers, expect of the Italian teacher, who talked very little.


Receiving anonymous gifts

I haven’t been in school for longer than ten days when I found a bucket of flowers on my table in the cabinet. when I asked the fellow teachers who sent the flowers, they exchanged a quick suspicious look and then the Spanish girl said they didn’t know.

On the very next day, there were some sweets. I thought about visiting the principal and telling him about the gifts, but his secretary always turned me down, saying he was too busy for any visits. And so I accepted the gifts, since I didn’t know whom to return them, an actually felt a little flattered.

On the other hand I found it odd that neither the principal, nor any of his assistant, wanted to talk to me. Long time left until the first pay check, which should be rather a big one, and so I decided to just bent my head down and wait. I was running a bit short of money, and though the school was strange, the students I taught spoke good French, and I rather enjoyed the lessons.

For a moment I thought I was just paranoid, and perhaps being reserved belongs to the typical behaviour od Singapore people, and nothing truly extraordinary was happening. But you probably know that feeling when things just don’t click together? Exactly that’s how I felt in the school–something wasn’t all right. And I was soon to find out what … in a hard way.

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The first day and my surprise

Another country, another city, another school. I’ve been working as a traveling teacher for a while, living my life of a constant change and challenge.

Having some charisma and touch of grace, I had never really struggled to start afresh though. We stay young until we start being afraid of the unknown…. Singapore was a huge city and I knew absolutely nobody. But as everywhere else in the world, they were looking for French language teachers, the natives. That was exactly my case, and with a decent command of other languages, I didn’t struggle to sign a temporary contract.

The school was located in the suburbs, but I didn’t mind. I was tired of the city centre life and looked for a break–at least for a month until I was ready to hit the clubs again and enjoy the life passing me by….


I wasn’t even interviewed for a job

One of the first surprises was my direct acceptance. Though the long list of strong positive references, I had always been interviewed for a job before coming. Phone, Skype, or paid flight ticket–you name it. In Singapore, however, they told me they’d interviewed me once I started the job.

And so I came to the class, 17 years old children, they spoke decent French for Asians. Girls were wearing short skirts and some of them were really beautiful I thought. Actually there were many more girls than boys, but many of them had a strange looks on their faces. I started to teach, and we talked. Whenever I asked something neutral, hands rose to the sky. When I gave questions about the school, however, children kept quiet. Corridors were clean and the food in the school cafeteria had a decent taste, so I decided to not complain.


Principal refused my visit

They assigned me a small cabinet, together with Italian and Spanish teachers. Both of them were women in their thirties, pretty much good looking. We chatted a bit but for some reason they were rather reserved. I didn’t mind and invited them to visit me at my place, the apartment I rented for my six months stay. They said they’d come but we didn’t arrange the exact time yet.

I wanted to meet the principal, leader of the school. But he refused my visit at first. His secretary referred to me that the boss would see me later, that he’d call me to his office. Strange enough, but I didn’t care and continued to teach. I had a signed contract in my hands, and the salary was more than exceptional. I taught, enjoyed the city and wondered about strange collective at the educational institution.

  • the vast majority of students were girls. And many of them were very good looking.
  • the majority of teachers were women, and many of them could possibly pass the first round of modelling competition.
  • school principal and the two assistant principals were all men though

For a short moment I thought that was a reason why I was accepted, and hired without an interview. everybody told me I was beautiful, I ran every day and took care of my diet. I didn’t want to gain weight, and I didn’t have a boyfriend. When you change your place of living every six months, it’s tough to maintain a relationship….

Anyway, I already got used to starting in a new place, and knew which places and parts of the city to visit to make friends. My life outside of school was quite ordinary, and I got many invitations for a drink–all of which I refused. The interesting part was yet to come….


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