East Asia ESL Teacher Tall Tales

We all fib. Some white lies here and there. I exaggerate on this blog, just for effect. But in my 20 years in the ESL racket spanning two countries (South Korea, Japan), I have heard some amazing backstories from fellow foreigners explaining away their current predicaments with yarns so shoddy it’s laughable in retrospect. Back in the days before social media, LinkedIn, and the internet in our pockets, a vagabond language instructor could create the most fantastical CV prior to their employment as an unlicensed kindergarten teacher. Add in some alcohol and a naive and homesick listening audience… voila!

“A commercial helicopter pilot? That’s awesome! Why’d you give it up?”
“I’d rather not go into it.”
People bought that line. Chicks bought that line. Gullible people in the throngs of culture shock will buy anything. When the 2007-2008 financial crisis hit, Korea saw a huge uptick in ESL refugees. That’s understandable. Go where the jobs are. But the “I used to make 6 figures as a day trader, glad I landed on my feet at the GnB English Academy,” conversation got old after I heard it from multiple frazzle-brained dudes that following spring. It still comes off pretty hollow.

Another line I keep hearing a lot here in 30 year-old-stagnate-economy Japan is the “I don’t need this job” variety. Anyone, in any job, worldwide, who consistently tells you that they “don’t need this job” is full of it. Unless the next words out of their mouth are “I quit!”, followed by early retirement. Nobody works in Asia, beyond a couple years, for the fun of it. And that ain’t no lie.

Not to say there aren’t some incredible resumes that are completely legit. The “I was executive vice president at [blah blah blah]” might actually be true (though rare). But there is most definitely a string of bad decisions (family, law, drug) that caused that person to flee their homeland. All of this is conveniently not mentioned – probably for good reason. Charlatans exist everywhere. Just because another whitey happened to find his way to some bumblefuck part of Asia just around the corner from you doesn’t mean their story automatically checks out. When they tell you something ridiculous like “I invented the futon”, trust your instincts.

Anyway, I gotta roll. I recently refurbished a classic biplane that I am anxious to get off the ground. I’m licensed.

What do you think?