Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sometimes, I'm Glad It's Over

Sleeping, I'm a very heavy dreamer.  I usually have three dreams in a row which I refer to as segments.  In almost all my dreams, one segment takes me to the offices I used to work in with Datapoint Corp, a now-defunct computer manufacturer.  I loved that job.  I started in Los Angeles, transferred to San Francisco for a year, back to L.A. and then to San Antonio, Tx.  Good people, some of who are my Facebook friends.  In my dreams, I am always walking around the offices although the offices change from dream to dream becoming larger and more modern.  As a person, I learned to grow up there.  I lived on my own, had a nice car, a house with hardwood fllors and a big yard, traveled two weeks a month, and worked in an office (in Los Angeles) by myself.  In San Antonio, it was a corporate environment and I learned about bureaucracy, favoritism, and discrimination.  That's another story.

In Mexico, apart from our language school, I always worked a second job.  In this case, it was as an academic consultant for EFL (English As A Foreign Language) publishers.  I always made it out to be a glamorous job.  It was in many ways.  I was fortunate to have learned Spanish fluently and that took me to Central/South America and the Caribbean.  As a gringo, I have to admit that I received special treatment.  Nice accommodations, business class flights in most cases, great restaurants, and some but little sightseeing.  The downside?  Long flights, hours in airports waiting, being shuttled from university to university, and some very exclusive private schools where teachers treated me like shit.  It was a self-esteem issue thinking I would belittle them (the Brits do that) and talk down to them.  What I really did was I used them to grow as a teacher trainer.  I took their interests, lack of training, lack of teaching knowledge to build my courses.  In other countries, smaller cities, and public schools, teachers worshipped me.  They felt that finally, they had an ally that would stand up for them and provide the training they truly needed, and I did. 

Juan and I always went the extra mile.  We were always studying new teaching techniques, reviewing new materials, testing them in classrooms and with teachers,  I still do even though I'm not working.  In fact, I'll be attending a three-day webinar this next week on virtual classroom techniques, issues, and solutions.  I loved what I did but it was time to stop.

Publishing had its ups and downs.  I not only had the role of an academic consultant but also as a proofreader, materials developer, and more.  Never an author though.  I was paid by the job and as I became better known, able to negotiate my pay to a certain extent. I'm an American and the Latin American market is dominated by the Brits.  If you weren't a member of the British Council, taught at the Anglo institute, or studied there, you would never be an author.  I only know of a couple of U.S. citizens that actually authored materials but they didn't last long.  Brits were the number one name on the book and maybe, an American or Mexican would take the second slot as a co-author.  Today, it's still Brits first, although more and more Mexicans are co-authors.  There is one major exception of a Mexican whose materials dominate the Mexican and Latin American markets.  

The biggest deception and one that made me change my complete outlook on publishing was a visit from a then friend and coworker.  The coworker came to the house for the weekend, we had really hit it off over the years.  We were out by the pool discussing language teaching, materials, textbooks, and the like.  I had mentioned that materials were important but also training teachers and the education of students was key.  The person turned and looked at me and said, "the only thing that matters is book sales".  That was in 2008.  That's when I knew I would never really play a bigger role in publishing.  I learned to like where I was and that was my calling.

 I was never bitter or jealous of anyone because I knew this going in, it was always very obvious.  I am referring to the six top EFL publishers.  I was happy to be a proofreader.   It was easy online work that I could do just about anywhere.  Even without an internet signal, I could download it and work on it later uploading it again when a signal was available.  I did that the summer we worked at Hacienda Contreras.  We did the chores in the morning while it was cool out and then after lunch and a nap I would work for four hours. 

In the end, I miss the travel side, working with teachers, and knowing that I did make a difference.  Earlier this year before COVID, I sent in an abstract to the national teacher's association which has a national convention every year.  I've given many conferences over the years and I loved the large groups.  However, this year my abstract and online registration of which I received a confirmation via email, was somehow lost.  I was sabotaged because I hadn't attended for the last three years.  The last year I did attend the association went through a major divide and there is a video of me speaking out.  I was blacklisted only to find out recently that many others suffered the same consequences.  One of the main reasons given was that we are older now and they are looking for younger faces.  The convention this year will be virtual and they are scrambling for speakers.  

Like any union, association, etc., there is always dissension, gossip, and backbiting and in publishing, it's a dirty business.  I was even paid for many years to spy on other publishers which is a common practice.  I'm happy though that I was an independent contractor and could pretty much pick and choose what I wanted to do.  

Sometimes I'm glad it's over and time to move with the rest of my life although it is on hold with the virus, much like most other rvers.  

Another piece of the puzzle.  


  1. After 36 years in the printing industry I can honestly say that I don't miss it at all! Enjoy retirement…

  2. Thanks for the walk through your life..interesting.

  3. Yep, every business has it's down side even when you're independent contractor. I know too well the back biting, bureaucracy, favoritism, and discrimination. More than once, they tried to force me out of a job but I fought back and each time I excelled to a higher position...maybe not with the same company but taking a job with other entities. To make matters worst, I'm a woman, which is a double whammy. Oh, the look on a division manager when he found out I was now employed as an agent at the Inspector General level...I could now lord over him LOL I retired from the inspector general position in 2008 and display my retirement plaque showing my credentials that was awarded to me. I came a long way from being born in a hogan with dirt floors, no electricity or running water with parents not knowing a single word in English. I had to depend on myself to study hard...learn English and learn the ropes of corporate world. I'm done now. No kidding when they say 'what a ride' a roller coaster you have to lean into the turns and ups and downs of life.

  4. Interesting read. Only thing better would be discussing it around a campfire.

    1. That would be a lot of fun right now! It all looks so far off though.

  5. It took me many years to understand that "you work to live, not live to work."