Thursday, July 02, 2015

Remember That Personal Assistant I Hired?

For several months now, I've felt like we needed to hire a personal assistant to do the things that my school's helper was supposed to be doing but wasn't. (The school helper is a weird situation where the guy does nothing for me, but does quite a bit for my wife, so my wife thinks I'm being a jerk when I complain about him. Yesterday I found out that, when the helper told me to get a Chinese friend to buy my soccer tickets, he bought tickets for a group of co-workers. While I was finding this out, the helper was taking my wife and youngest kid to the hospital and facilitating getting our kid's ears checked for infection, then paying for the cab ride back home.)

Two months ago, I became aware that one of my best, friendliest, most-mature students, Linda, was trying to raise money for a post-graduation trip to Japan. I asked if she would like to work for us and she was very excited about the chance. She did a few odd jobs for us and was very grateful for the amount of money we paid her for these jobs. As her final day of classes approached, I asked if she would still be available over the summer. She said she would be very happy to help us all the way until she went to America for university at the end of August. She took a picture with me and promised to send it to me, then she said she would see me at graduation and say good-bye to me then.

I sent her an e-mail with the next batch of assignments and she didn't reply. A week later, I WeChatted her to ask if she got my e-mail. She said she was currently on her Japan trip and that she would answer as soon as she got back. She did not. At graduation she did not make an effort to say hello and even, when she accidentally found herself face-to-face with me, quickly turned away.

My wife thinks that maybe she lost her enthusiasm for work once she had been on the trip to Japan. I think that my students' attitude toward me took a giant dive over the past six weeks when all their other teachers allowed them to stop working and I required them to still attend class and complete assignments.

I also noticed something during my time as a university professor: people are subconsciously attracted to people in positions of authority. You seem smarter, funnier, and more handsome when you have authority. When the authority is removed (like after final grades are submitted), the authority bias is removed and, all of a sudden, you just aren't as attractive as you used to be.

This is why I can't understand professors having affairs with students. Sure, the student gives you validation you might not be receiving elsewhere, but only until the term ends. Then she suddenly sees that you are old and she is not.

Anyway, there are three possible explanations for what happened with my personal assistant: 1) she didn't need the money anymore, 2) popular opinion turned against me, or 3) I stopped being someone she wanted to help when I stopped being in a position of authority. Whatever the reason, my family is back to having no personal assistant.

That would be fine except I recently found out how to buy train tickets online (something we should have been taught our first week here), and it involves reading Mandarin character captchas and clicking on corresponding pictures. So we're going to need another personal assistant.

Enter Vicky, a great student who lives in our neighborhood and still has a year left in school. So maybe Vicky will pull a Linda, but it should still be several months away.

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