My First Lesson

Since the title of my book is Nine Years in Bangkok:Lessons Learned, many of my friends have been curious as to what my lessons were, how I learned them, and if they had an impact on my life going forward. I’d like to dedicate a series of blogs to this topic. My lessons could be helpful to many–those living the expatriate life, anyone who has dealt with difficult co-workers and management in a stressful workplace, individuals who have struggled to balance work/family/marriage and more.

One of my first lessons:  Do not overlook or underestimate the behavior of people around me. It may signal future problems.

From a very young age my intuition guided me regarding the nature of those around me. Palpable twinges in my gut let me know when another person was deceitful, two-faced or just plain evil. Unfortunately, growing up, those in authority often discouraged me from tuning in to my inner voice. So, by the time I reached Thailand in my late forties I had been long trained to shake off those instinctive warnings.

Lulled by tropical breezes and excited by the prospect of living in a new country with a new job, I began my time at the international school filled with confidence about the future. It wasn’t long before I observed some pretty dysfunctional behaviour–some staff members who traded names of favorite Thai prostitutes, others that partied in front of or with students in Bangkok clubs/bars, and teachers that came to work still under the influence of alcohol from partying all night. Of course these kinds of staff members were in the minority and there were many excellent people at the school. But the administration did nothing to curb or eliminate these issues. This wasn’t to bode well for the future.

At the time, I put all this down to “This is Thailand” and ignored that uncomfortable feeling in my solar plexus. Unfortunately I was to learn that these overlooked behaviours turned out to be part of a much bigger picture. One where I, confronted with difficult colleagues and an inept administration, began to experience a living nightmare.

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