Broke though I am, I walked away from a job offer last week.
And I felt an exhilarating thrill of satisfaction in doing so.
I fretted for a while that it had been a rash decision, that I was perhaps being unduly irritable, even a little unreasonable.
But I shouldn't doubt my gut instincts: they are invariably sound, an astute subconscious appraisal of factors that I haven't yet fully realised or clearly articulated to myself.
Do I want to teach any more?
No, I'm done. Bored. Stale. I need to take a complete break from it for a while.
Do I want to teach a one-to-one business class?
No. They're a waste of time for all concerned, an ineffective or at least a very inefficient and unsatisfying mode of study. And they're a vexingly unreliable source of income, since the students invariably cancel something between 30% and 80% of the classes (usually with little or NO notice).
Do I want to teach senior executives from a bank?
No. People in jobs like this are almost invariably arrogant twerps who'll treat you with complete contempt and constantly try to reschedule classes just for the power-trip, just for the sadistic pleasure of inconveniencing you.
Do I want to work for 250 rmb an hour?
No. That was barely above my get-out-of-bed threshold 8 or 10 years ago, and the cost of living in this city has doubled in that time. With my skills and experience, I'm worth way more than that. High-end business teaching ought to pay at least twice - if not four times - that much.
Do I want to work evenings or early mornings?
No. That's when this kind of class is invariably scheduled, and it's a complete pain in the arse - utterly destructive of one's social life and one's peace of mind. It's not so much the anti-social timing itself that wears you down as the misery of having to travel for 45 minutes or more in each direction at the height of Beijing's wretched rush hour.
Do I want to do a job set up by a Chinese university?
No. Absolutely not. Never again. These people are complete headless chickens, and I would rather starve than expose myself to any more of their mind-mangling incompetence.
My patience snapped with this bunch of dingbats when my contact insisted that she was UNABLE to tell me when the class would be scheduled (even approximately - like, mornings or evenings, weekdays or weekends?), how many hours a week it would be (one session or ten??), or exactly what it would pay ("more than 250" she teased [as I'd already turned down an offer from her for a job that - after tax deductions and unreimbursed travel expenses - paid considerably less than that], but she couldn't say how much more - probably not very much!). But she wanted me to give up an entire afternoon to journey to her remote campus to "discuss" the prospect with her. "If I don't know whether I'll be able or willing to accept the job, that would be a complete waste of my time and yours. If you can't give me the basic information I need to make that decision, then I'll just have to turn the job down right now."
I can just see her whingeing to her colleagues about how "foreigners are so unreasonable!" Yeah, right: WE'RE the unreasonable ones.