No Compromises

I get off the bus on the side of the road next to a bus depot. In the morning it is a parking lot for buses that are resting before their long runs of the day. These buses are old; the doors are three paneled and fold open and closed like accordions. No drivers are hiding inside which leads me to conclude they have crossed the busy intersection to an english restaurant christened ‘Lucky Steak House.’ Inside everything is in Russian and the servers know only how to say ‘hello.’

I walk across the boneyard bus depot to a brick wall. Years before the wall used to protect the four railway tracks from the aspect or prospect of war. I am walking towards a part of the wall that has been damaged, perhaps by artillery fire from the great wars of history, maybe just by a drunk driver long since forgotten. I step over the broken bricks and make my way over the four rows of train tracks to my school.

Inside the building is cold concrete and the doors slam shut with deafening echoes followed by angry russian from the ladies that are suppose to be watching the entry. I am not sure what their job entitles. I would imagine they are vetting every person that seeks entrance to safeguard the students but they seem more interested in sharing gossip with their backs to the entryway, waiting for an opportunity to yell at the next person that allows the door to slam shut. They have a group cackle that seems to spark within them much joy.

Today I am on a mission to talk to my Counterpart about the drama club. The year prior I had a wonderful time with the University students. We put on a funny play about alcohol. speak easy pubs and prohibition. I had the opportunity to get to know the Ukrainian students and they gave me something to look forward to every week. This year my Counterpart wants me to create a drama club that combines students from the Lyceum, the private school that I normally teach, with University level students. I haven’t heard a lot of overwhelming cheers from the Lyceum students and the University students are against it.

I found my Counterpart in the hallway.

‘Hello. Can we take a moment to discuss the drama club?’

She looks instantly annoyed. Before she has even opened her mouth to respond she has tensed up and releases an exasperated sigh of irritation as if we have been through this topic too many times. This is our first and apparently last discussion about it. ‘Yes. What about the drama club?’

‘Well I talked to the University students and they are not keen on sharing the space with the young kids. They are worried their English won’t be good enough and that it will lower the quality of their work. They don’t want to feel like babysitters and the club is suppose to be about having fun.’

‘No. They won’t feel like that.’

‘Well I have a lot of free time and I would be more than happy to have two separate drama clubs, one for the Lyceum and one for the University.’

‘No. They have to be combined.’

‘Ok, I hear what you are saying, but I really don’t mind. In fact I think I will be able to create two works of art that are better keeping with their English levels.’

‘I see. Tell the University students that they will be joining with the Lyceum students on Tuesday at three. Thank you.’


After that she left without so much as another word. Maybe I can have a secret second drama club, but then that’d be asking the University kids to do a lot of extra work. Thanks Ukraine! You’ve managed to take away the one thing I was looking forward to all summer break.

Also the bed bug issue is not yet resolved. We’ve had to throw away most everything we own, stay in a hotel while our apartment was sprayed with liquid chemicals, wash the walls and floor and furniture so that we could live in our apartment, and boil our clothes in a pot over the stove. This is what we’ve done so far and now our roommate, the bug carrier, just informed us that she doesn’t think they are gone.

If I throw anything more away I will be literally living with only the clothes on my back.


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