Welcome (back) to Strelice - Part III

Read Part I

Read Part II

The next day, after sleeping til noon, we gathered up the energy to go to the pub for a beer before I headed back to Brno. Robert called in a second round. I had to do the jackrabbit dash, the cheetah sprint, and the fugitive’s scurry all at the same time to catch the damn thing, with a cigarette to spare.

All that cardio’s really paying offâ??

Brno was nice, rather crowded, but festive. A new McDonald’s on Masarykova pissed me off – the Cerna Hora deserved a better fate. It used to be a great pub with cheap suds and stick-to-ya-ribs grub, real wood furniture and fixtures, real drinkers (“That place was real popular with the real true drunkards,” Simca told me, “It opened at seven in the morning, so you’d see people sleeping at the tables sometimes just after lunchtime.”), a thick fog of cigarette smoke, and voices colliding in a loud abrasive and hysterical brouhaha.

And now it’s a goddamn McDonalds. Licked-clean lighting, splinter-free seating, the goddamn clown and kiddie corner, staff with programmed smiles, no surprises in the same chow you can get five hundred metres up the road.

I walked further up the street to get my Ceska slice. Then drank more beer with Simi and her boy. A cool couple; he sat silent with a Cheshire grin, Simona gesticulated and laughed and talked loud. We did what we always do when we get together – reminisced about all the crazy stupid shit that Brno’s old expat crew used to get up to in the ’96-’97 school year.

Teaching English in Brno was a pretty easy gig. Most of the students forgave us our hangovers and comedowns, tardiness and lack of preparation, and our general incompetence when it came to doing our jobs. That was fun for about a year, after which the lifestyle started to stagnate. The chemistry changed and quantities grew to ridiculous amounts. Teaching got dull, Brno got too small. Prague seemed like a good place to clean up and do something else.

I still see a number of teachers going through the same thing now – hating their jobs and their schools, rubbing out the frustration in the bars at night. Fleecing students by way of useless one-sided conversation lessons. Going strictly by textbooks with articles and exercises that would insult a third-grader. Fuelling up on coffee, cigarettes, fried cheese, fried schnitzels, fried potatoes, beer, beer, beer, shots, joints, and more beer.

Some of them manage to get themselves together and become proper teachers; others can’t handle it and leave as furtively as they arrived. Then there are those who, out of some strange stubbornness born of either self-loathing or immaturity, seem destined to stay in this dull loop forever. While I’m out of the loop, it is nice to slip inside it from time to time, to chart progress and, as my Uncle Jack would say, check the fences.

Jan 8, 17:55 (Filed under: Road tripping )

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