Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog August 13th, 2011

Tap Water Truths


It’s been three years since I’ve set foot in the US of A.

I left just as Obama was being ushered into the Oval Office, and I didn’t think I’d be coming back during his administration, but a series of events led me to make a quick dash across the Pacific to visit some family members and conduct a little private business.

The first thing I did when I was settled in was amble over to the kitchen sink to fill a tall glass with cool tap water. Ah, what a bouquet! No Chablis ever tasted finer.

You get used to buying and drinking bottled water in Thailand. From the very first time I came to Thailand as an English teacher, after graduating from TEFL International, I have carried a plastic water jug with me everywhere, from bus station to skytrain to Buddhist stupa. Teaching English as a second language is thirsty work in Thailand, so I always had a bottle of water on my desk, and consulted it frequently.

But now, for a few weeks, I can turn on the tap to quench my thirst, with no worries of outrageous diseases or gastrointestinal combustications. In fact, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go into the kitchen for a glass of the 2011 H20 vintage . . .

That hits the spot; just a hint of chlorine.

Anyway. I am amazed to see how many people here in the States carry water around with them, when it is so abundant, and free, in every public sector. There are drinking fountains everywhere, but it appears that Americans are now drunk on Perrier and other snooty brands, often featuring snow-capped mountains or bubbling springs on the label. I asked my daughter, a commuting office worker, to stop and figure out how much she spends on bottled water per week. She studied it out a minute and told me she’s spending ten dollars every week. Forty bucks per month. $480.00 per year. Now if it was beer, I could understand – but water? ,

That’s just silly.

Another thing that is starting to bug me here at home, and makes me impatient to greet the stolid Thai Immigration clerks back at Suvarnabhumi Airport again, are the droves of unemployed folk who patiently queue up for unemployment checks and career advice when there are teaching jobs aplenty in Thailand.

It upsets me no end, so I think I’ll just go get me another snort of good old tap water . . .

Last Sunday I went to church with some of my family, and got into a long conversation with a church member who volunteers his services to help unemployed members find work. He reeled off the names of a dozen people who were facing eviction, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and other aspects of the Great American Nightmare, because they could not find work. For the most part these were young, college-educated people.

I put it to the volunteer bluntly: Why didn’t they go overseas to teach English, when there is such a huge demand for it?

He didn’t rightly know. In fact, he’d never heard about those kind of opportunities before.

So I filled him in, at least for Thailand and China, where right now TEFL International is beating the bushes to find recruits for Disney English to teach in China. The flight & training are paid for; the salary is good; the benefits are outstanding. It’s a total gimme.

The church volunteer promised to spread the word among the people he was counseling, and I gave him my phone number; they could call me for more info at any time.

How many phone calls do you think I’ve gotten?

Zilch. Nada. Bupke.

Oh, it makes me so mad I could spit. In fact, I’m kinda thirsty again. Lemme just go get a drink of that sweet tap water . . .

I could tell anyone with enough ambition to make a phone call that I’ve never had it so good since moving to Thailand. Cheap rent. Cheap food. Plenty of work. And even a Thai fiancé, who doesn’t care (or at least has the grace to not mention it) that my good looks and physique departed long ago, when Jimmy Carter shelled goobers in the White House.

It’s apparent to me that the sense of adventure and enterprise that used to motivate young people here in America has evaporated. They don’t want to travel, to experience life in a new culture under strange stars. No, they will stay home and wait for an early Christmas.

Well, kids, all I can say is – don’t hold your breath. America’s credit rating was just downgraded by Standard & Poor to AA+, from AAA. And it won’t end there.

Me, I’m going to ride out the storm, well-paid & well-employed, in Thailand.

But first . . .

Boy, have I got to go pee!