Amok Mama: Big dreams

What would you do if you were a millionaire? If you're a TEFL teacher like Jacinta Nandi, this is literally the million-dollar question.

I know my millions of faithful Exberliner fans will be astonished to learn that, despite my amazing writing prowess and excellent skills and that, I’m not actually able to actually live off writing. Nah. Well, not yet, anyways. No, I teach English to unemployed people. I love it, actually. They’re really funny. Especially the Aussiedler. They’re my favourites, but I basically love them all.

One of the things I love about teaching unemployed people English is you never know what they’re going to say or think about anything. Sometimes they’re really, really, really, almost unbearably boring. You’re like: “Do you think shopping at supermarkets is more fun than shopping at a market outside? What do you think? What’s your opinion on that, huh?”

And some students just look at you like you just showed them some torture porn starring their granny or something. They blink. And grimace. Then they leave a really, really, really, really, PAINFULLY, unbearably, excruciatingly long silence. And then they blink and grimace again. And then they say: “I don’t know. It depends on the situation. I can’t really answer that question.”

You have to use every ounce of self-control in your entire body to stop yourself from shouting in their faces: “DO YOU THINK I ACTUALLY CARE YOU FUCKING EEJIT, JUST CHOOSE ONE, JUST CHOOSE A FUCKING ANSWER, I AM ONLY READING THE QUESTIONS OFF OF THE LESSON PLAN. Look at me. Look at me. I REALLY DON’T CARE WHICH ONE YOU LIKE BEST. JUST CHOOSE ONE, FOR FUCK’S SAKE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST LIE TO ME. LIE. SAY SOMETHING. ANYTHING. I don’t care. I don’t care. You fucking idiot. I am reading the questions off of the fucking lesson plan. For fuck’s sake.”

But you never know what you’re gonna get. Some students are really fun, you know – especially when the lesson’s on the second conditional. I asked one the other day what he would do if he were a millionaire, and he said he would have robots for slaves, doing everything he needed for him.

“That’s a good idea,” I said.

He did this really polite cough, and then, no lie, he goes: “But not for sex slaves.”

I did a kind of shocked cough then. I love it when Germans shock me. It’s my favourite feeling in the world.

“Okay,” I said, encouragingly. “Good.”

“Well, it would not be necessary, or?” he said.

We have already done question tags, actually. But you know, the target language structure we were meant to be focusing on was the second conditional, and I didn’t want to confuse him. Plus I wanted to hear what he was going to say next.

“No,” I conceded. “It probably wouldn’t be necessary for you to have robot sex slaves if you were a millionaire.”

“Because all women want to have sex with millionaires,” he said. “All of them. I would just have robots to clean my house and mow the lawn and cook the dinner and things like that. Oh, and I would buy my mother a little house – a cottage, you know? Near the sea. And I wouldn’t bother learning English.”

“You could pay a translator,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “A robot could do it, actually. It would be great, I think.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It would be wonderful.”

“And maybe,” he said, “maybe I would pay off all my stepfather’s debts.”

“Really?” I said.

He shrugged. “But probably I wouldn’t,” he said, and I laughed. I know forgiveness is a really important quality in a person, but part of me really likes unforgiving people. And I especially love it when people are so unforgiving, they’re even unforgiving in the second conditional.

I didn’t believe him, though. I bet he would.