Students & Slaves. Payments and Paydays.
I want to thank you all for your support of the many many stories I have. I was expecting Ninjas4breakfast or that Tef guy to jump on soon, which will be great, don't get me wrong. But with all the WW threads on here already, I was a bit skeptical as to how well received the truth would be. So thanks again for the support.
Before I get back into the nitty gritty I just want to cover CP2's comment about teaching after only 3 years. That's your opinion, and I'm cool with it. I think I had students for a time that I had no business teaching. I will agree with that. But at 17 to 20 roughly I think my experience with THIS PARTICULAR SYSTEM was more than enough to teach newer students and children, without a doubt. I plan on discussing Instructor's Training in depth for everyone, my TOP 5 Laugh Fests of all time at WW and well, everything in between in due time. Maybe my Instructor's Training coverage will help you with stomaching people who were "proficient" with certain aspects being allowed to teach new students. Again. I do respect your opinion and honor it as yours. But really, the only difference between what West Wind did and other schools I've been to have done is put a bit more "respect" around the waists of those students who were talented and were willing to help teach their art. And you'll see how this ties in to my student/Part Time/Full Time spheel.
I can only speak from the experiences that I have, but they happen to include me being a student, a part time instructor, and a full time instructor. With that said I want to tell you all my opinion for the most fun in the system. Most fun title to least fun title is as follows: Student, Part Time Instructor, Full Time Instructor. I bet a lot of you already guessed that though...
Lets start with being a student. I came from another Bok Fu school on San Pablo in Richmond (not the OLD Richmond school mind you. That was on McDonald and "way to ghetto" for my parents to drive me to on a nightly basis.) I started there when I was 10, became a teacher there to kids when I was 14 and left when I was 16. Yes. I did just say I taught prior to my experience at WW. I wasn't great, but I could keep the kids attention. Only issue I would say was that school was a joke compared to WW. Honestly there are positive aspects to WW that one day I will get to. I just don't see it anytime in the very near future...
So when I started training at WW in Berk, being a student was great! I got to go to all the group classes I wanted. Had great instruction by Mr. Murphy, then Mr. Kelly. And because I had pretty much known the system already up to Blue Belt from the other school, I pretty much breezed by it. I did get some questionable looks from the students from time to time, but it was understandable considering I was told to keep quiet about learning from that other school. I always thought if we were honest about it the other students wouldn't have minded nearly as much. To me it was weird because I would constantly get put into situations like these. Okay. My "White Belt Test" to join the school was actually my 2nd stripe test for my white belt... Yeah because that's not gonna be weird when the new student suddenly walks in half way to orange. Oh, btw I took my Orange Belt Test I THINK 3 weeks later. Maybe a smidge longer. I remember I got a case of food poisoning while in Vacation in LA and that held me up. (I was hospitalized for two days, so that kinda makes sense). But I joined in August and by the beginning of October I had an Orange belt. That USUALLY takes ABOUT 4 or 5 months to get. It took me like 5 weeks.
How about this one: I had this instructor from Daly City named Mr. Gardner. He took over from Mr. Kelly, because he went to Alameda. I ended up testing for my Purple belt in February? YES IT WAS! I just turned 17. (My B-day is in Feb, and since I was 14 something "BIG" in my martial arts career always seemed to happen around my b-day). Now that was like two months before our inter-school tournament. Keep in mind I knew all the info through the Purple Belt so I asked Mr. Gardner if I could compete as a Purple, not an Orange. Got told no. I was needed in the Orange category for the points/medals... Fine. No sweat because I was on a TEAM BY GOD! So like 3 weeks before the tournament, there is this Purple Belt (from now on PB) group class preparing for a tourney. I was in the OB group. We got done early and Mr. Gardner asked me to go join the PB's. I had at this point had LITERALLY 2 lessons as a PB k? So I'm supposed to know Jack followed IMMEDIATELY by **** in regards to the PB material, got it? The PB's are working on Kata 4 which is the longest of the Katas up to that point. Also "arguably" the most difficult one to do. Especially for a kid who's had a PB for 2 weeks right? WRONG! Mr. Gardner.. who is now known lovingly as Coke, because he used to walk around drinking it like it was water... So COKE tells me to jump out there in the middle... FUCKING 30 PB's ARE LOOKING AT ME LIKE I JUST GREW A THIRD HEAD! Coke asks me if I know it. I"m all being polite and ****... mubling and trying not to answer. He confronts me and says "Do you know it or not?!" I say yes, and I do it... I"m not trying to be a dick, but I was 17. I had been doing that particular form for 3 years now. At the old school I demo'ed it at a movie theater because our school got asked to do some **** for the Mulan movie premier. Save for some MINOR style differences between the two places, I OWN KATA 4! OW34G3 I SAY! (I'm not good with the number/letter writing, so I'll stop that there.) To say that the group treated me a WEE bit different until they FINALLY heard that I was a student from another school and that's why... would be an understatement....
Okay, so that was the bad cover job of my history. Now onto what I liked. As a student I could just fucking work out! I of course had to change my idea of what working out was to that of WW's, as my odl school was very lax in that respect. But once i was motivated, man oh man I was there all the time! I think in my stride I did 7 group classes a week, and about 2 to 3 hours on the mat 5+ days a week. I PRACTICALLY LIVED THERE! And I always felt good at the time "helping out" when I was asked by any Instructor, because it was considered an honor.. yes HONOR to be asked to mop the mat, change the trash, dust the school, etc. (Yeah... so I had some major acceptance issues. Dad wasn't around much, so it did feel good to get my ego stroked. I think anyone will agree with this. More on all the psycho stuff a little later. Just go along with me, k?)
Once you got higher up, or in my case older, I noticed it was the student body that did a lot of the work around the school. Did a lot of the painting, electrical work, made signs, got things "donated", etc. Everyone seemed to take pride in it, and it was a good team feel. I imagine I would have got along great with a lot of the people at Berkeley outside of the school. I say imagine because well, we weren't supposed to talk to one another at all. Outside of a sneaked word here and there, we really WERE NOT supposed to shoot the ****. Like, we would get yelled at.. I'm sorry "talked to", usually outside about it and how that was rude behavior... (RIIIIIIIIIIIGHT. I'm being RUDE talking to this person in my class I really respect.... Here's your sign.) Well that pretty much sums up the experience as a well liked (after the whole other school thing got established as fact.) student and what was fun about it. Could do my thing in peace, have fun and work hard in group classes and be apart of a team with a "common goal".
Part Time Instruction: I really didn't mind because like I said I was an instructor at the other school. There was a lot of difference between the views about instruction at WW than at the Other place, so that took some time to get used to. Also, looking back, I really missed out on a lot of school stuff because of my devotion to it. I am willing to take responsibility and say yes, I chose not to do certain things my Jr. and Sr. years. But I think one has to also accept that I had a bunch of people I "looked up to" that said I didn't need all that stuff. That it was just a year or two in my life, and my time at WW would mean so much more. (How true that turned out to be even THEY can't imagine.) I mean, it felt good to get compliments from the top 6 people in the system every time I was there. I for a good amount of time was kinda the golden boy. I"m not trying to blow smoke, but it was what it was. I wasn't perfect in any way, but I tried my best. Had a great attitude, and I was always willing to do what needed to be done. During the honeymoon phase of Instructor training I think I observed the most lessons, was made to teach the most lessons and was damn near perfect on a lot of my written tests (would usually miss 1 question out of 35+ about the system.) I was the "safe bet", so to speak. Well once I got the red belt that all changed. Berkeley got taken over by a couple of asst. head instructors. One good cop, one bad cop. You can guess who I always ended up teaching under.... Everything we did under bad cop was punishable by yelling and screaming. I constantly had Bad Cop bringing up my prior training and teaching and how it didn't mean **** here and I needed to "empty my cup" and do it their way or fucking leave. I'm serious about all this btw. But I really liked Good Cop so I stuck it out. A lot of the ... time out. Sorry. This will help everything.
Instructor Levels from Highest to Lowest(and how many there were at this time in my story):
Chief Instructor (1), Asst. Chief (2; Right hand man, left hand man... kinda like the hands of God really...) Senior Head Instructors (2 or 3 depending on the exact time) Head Instructor (2 to 3, kinda) Asst. Head (anywhere from 3 to 80,000. Seemed like any former Head who came back from the "dark days" instantly got promoted to Asst. Head. There used to be upwards of 7 schools with Head instructors turning over like I change my undies... and a lot of them started coming back after the shock in the real world that well Life is tough. There were only 3 schools at this time so why we needed more than you know, 3 Asst. Heads is BEYOND ME so please don't ask.) Director (1 There were supposed to be 1 for every school, but well, that fell to **** shortly after I started) Senior Instructors (2 to 5 Per School. These were the full time dudes/dudettes) Part Time (?!?!? What day are we talking? Who fucked who that day? That is the most debatable number, and well doesn't really matter. I was a part time dude, so there you go.)
Back to the Hellishness. Like I said Bad Cop was an Asst Head. My instructor at this time was an Asst. Chief. So although he could do something about it (and eventually did) I was pretty miserable for about... 5 months. My work out time got cut down MAJORLY because now any time i was at the school I was expected to either teach my students (of whom I had like 8 over a 4 day period.), or take up the slack on someone else's students. There was never just straight work out time. Ever. I always got "told" to do something else more important. At this point I was a Blue Belt btw. Half way to Green. Eventually I had a week "trial period" at the Alameda school. I was liked so much by their Head Instructor Mr. G and the other Asst. Chief I was moved. Now of course they told me they saw how "stagnate" I was at the Berkeley school, but come on. Well all saw through it. I was getting treated like **** at Berkeley. Used and abused, and they were taking care of me. It was kinda hard to come right out and say that to the new guy though. "Hey Mr. Radley... your getting treated like ass here by one of our instructors. We're going to move you to a better environment and you'll be a lot happier. Sorry again that Bad Cop's such a bitch! Bye now!" The commute grew big time but I didn't care. I had a few ties to Alameda at that time. Really liked the student body, and the instructors so all was well.
While at Alameda I made it to the next tourney (this is now 2002) My students did so well I got offered a job back at Berkeley, but as a FULL TIME GUY! OH YEAH! I was 19 and gonna be making the big bucks.... (I PROMISE YOU I WILL GET TO THE MONEY TONIGHT! Just not QUITE yet.)
Full Time Instruction: Worst time in my life. Period. I can't even count the ways. Bad Cop was now gone, so that was a relief. And I really liked the new Head Instructor. He was one of the returning Heads from the "Dark Days", but a great guy nonetheless. Why was it so bad then? Alright... here we go:
I was a slave. Period. End of story. At this point I had pretty much seen through it all, but felt like a douche if I turned back and had WAY too much of an ego to tell everyone in my life who didn't like me being there that I was wrong. Plain and simple. The school hours were 9-9 7 days a week at this point. I worked 5+. On the days I was there I had to be there NO LATER Than 8:30 to open the school... and I fucking ASSURE you there was never ONE DAY I left before 9:45. IF I left at 9:45 I could have practically cried with an abundance of joy that I would get to sleep before 1. See. I hadn't had dinner yet. I had a lunch break from 3 to 4, and taught 5 hours straight. There was no time to eat, so dinner was needed. Then time to digest. Time to unwind from the day of Hell... You can EASILY see how my 1 A.M. bed time was the "right time" to go to sleep. KEEP IN MIND that was all IF I got out by 9:45. USUALLY we were there til 10:15. I remember distinct days I was there til 11 or later. ONLY to have to be at the school the next day 30 min before it opened.
I believed being a Sr. Inst. that I would have some sort of SENIORITY over someone. I mean the name kinda implies that. HA! I was the low man on the totem pole even more! Here's why. I was 19. I got hired as Full Time at Berkeley the same time as one other instructor got promoted and another guy came back. They were both older. The guy was higher ranked, the girl was lower. Because of her "professionalism" she was placed higher than both me and the other guy... Awesome huh?! Gets better. It actually looked bad if Us three delegated our duties to the part time crew because they had their own **** to do, and were all either under age, or had other careers and couldn't commit to what needed to be done. That's what we were actually for. But that didn't mean the three of us couldn't delegate between ourselves...
Hell yeah I got the shaft man! To be fair, the girl, now known as WOMAN was pretty good to me. We went through instructor's training together. She was a nice WOMAN that WOMAN was, and I taught her son. But I still got the plunger end, if you catch my drift.
BTW If I couldn't really practice when i was Part Time, yes, that does mean my work outs turned to **** even more upon full time. We had these weird group classes EARLY in the morning 2 days a week with just the three of us. WOMAN And BOONDOCK (the guy) and I were always tired, because you know... it's fucking 9 am, we got like 5 to 6 hours of sleep, had nothing good to eat, and now I"m up doing this **** again. I used to get slammed all the time at this point because I had a yawning problem. Yup, that's right I was a yawner. Said I was being rude and disrespectful and I needed to control it NOW!...(I'm going out on a limb and saying 5 horus of sleep, 1500 - 2000 calories a day while working as hard as I was was PROBABLY NOT what a FUCKING 19 YEAR OLD GROWING BOY NEEDED! I rest my case.)
So... here we are. I know what your thinking. When will he finally give us the numbers?! Well.. This post is REALLY LONG! SO I'm gonna put this up now... and I SWEAR the next part will be student payments, the bartering that went on, how much money was made at Berkeley over ONE QUARTER ALONE, and how much money I was making at 19 years old, working 60 to 70 hour weeks. Enjoy!
(next part will be up in about 30 min)
The Money - Payments: Students paid for what started as groups of 33 lessons, then went to groups of 22. 22,44,66,88,etc up to 154 lessons. I don't remember the exact prices for these because my parents just kinda wrote a blank check in a way. I do remember if you payed all of it up front you got lets say a 20% discount. Long story short, with the amount of lessons I was taking (usually 2x 1hour private lessons a week) ONLY AS A STUDNET, I was NOT an instructor at this time, I think I payed around 500 a month. That sounds about right. The lessons again were 22 HALF HOUR lessons. You would have an hour, but that would eat 2 lessons. Got me? OKay... That was what I remembered as a student. And lets also keep in mind, I was only a student from August to April: 8 months. I think my parents did three contracts during that time. THe initial 22, the next one 66, the other being 110 I think.
Part Time Instructors: When I did this part time instructors didn't get free lessons like they do now. (more on that in a minute.) Part time instructors got an even GREATER discount per lesson. Now the irony in this was it was the SAME **** I was paying before... because not 2 WEEKS after I got my red belt (teaching belt) did they up the prices for regular students. So I actually think I was paying like 50 an hour. And 2 hours easily a week. Okay so it was like 400 to 500 a month still. Sometimes I would have an extra hour. You know how it goes.
I REALLY wish I could tell you how much the regular student was paying at this point, but I can't. They kept that info from the part timers pretty well, and at 17 I didn't really care, ya know? I do remember a lot of people quit around that time, which was the customary response to the constant price gouging that happened. There were always those on the fence, and when the next letter came out that said "We're sorry to say we're raping you further" I always got some little kid's Mom coming up to me saying how much they liked ME, but couldn't afford the prices that were being asked. Always the good ones too. Well.. I guess a kids talent level is directly associated to how much common sense their parents have isn't it?
Full time Instruction Pricing: Free! That's right! We were given every quarter 152 or so lessons that were a gift from the Main Man himself, Mr. TOMMAY! (Not his real name, but TOMMAY will be used from now on.) We were to use these lessons for ANYTHING that had to do with our teacher. I **** YOU NOT when I tell you that I was expected to mark it down as a fucking HOUR LESSON if I ate lunch with the Head Instructor of the school, because he was giving me wise and valuable information... HAHAHAHAHAH YOu wanna know what the wise and valuable information was? We usually talked about puss. ROFL! Isn't that awesome?! I remember walking in on him talking to some other Red Belt (Instructor, now known as RB) and they were talking abotu buying a house. The Head Instructor of Berkeley, now known as EAZY was awesome. I really like that guy. But yeah... if I had a lunch time lesson with him it most likely had to do with puss. God, if only they knew!
The Money - Payday
Studnets: Well we didn't get paid. BUT remember earlier in the previous post I mentioned bartering and certain students doing work on the school? Well that was actually used as a way to get students who otherwise couldn't pay the outlandish prices to do work on the school in exchange for lessons! How great is that?! So I remember when a lot of people were commenting on other posts about how good their school looked, and how they must have spent a fortune. The answer is No... no they didn't. The STUDENTS may have spent a lot of money on paint, materials for electrical work, dump runs, etc. but West Wind didn't. The students who did that were asked to keep the receipts, submit them with the assessed value of the work they did, then they would get "comparable" amounts of lesson time. Usually the students who did this were the ones who had connections in a certain field. Masonry, wood working, etc. So they would get a deal on stuff, then jack the prices on WW, which I thought was great! But yeah, not very practical for a stay at home mom and a Dad who works on database architecture, is it? (My parents btw.)
Part Time Instruction: Part time Instructors got paid $1.00 over minimum wage! We got 7.50 I think at the time, and a decent raise of a quarter very quarter or two. I don't remember. Oh, but did I mention you only got paid for hours taught?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH That's right. So if I was in the school from 4 to 9 (which was quite often as i was still in HS), and I only taught 2 hours, but cleaned, answered phones, hand wrote the schedule, etc. Guess how much money I would get? Apparently doing other work such as the tasks I already mentioned was not viewed as actual work worthy of being paid for. And in a way their right. I mean I DID clean a lot when I was a student, and I didn't get paid then... so why start now?!
(* Since my time I have come to learn that Part time instructors no longer have to pay for lessons... but they also don't receive any money for teaching at all. It is completely on the barter system. I know some of you will say oh that's probably better.. .but hear me out. A lot of the instructors who are part time are kids using it as a part time job, whohave parents who don't mind paying the prices (clearly). So now although the parents don't have to spend the money, the kids aren't earning anything for themselves and often times don't have the time to get a real part time job, work at the school and go to school all at the same time. DO I smell Child Labor laws being broken? I think so!!)
Full Time Instruction: Well, when I got started and got "sold" on the whole idea it sounded good. I was gonna get salary for the first time in my life but apparently didn't really understand what that meant. I was also sold on the idea of doing what i loved (which i did love teaching) and the promise of getting a significant raise and a promotion to Asst. Head Instructor upon getting my 3rd Degree Brown Belt, which was what I was working on prior to going full time. Oh yeah.. .I forgot to tell you how much it actually was! I was to make 2000 a month, before taxes, not including quarterly bonuses that were the value of one of my bi-weekly checks... before taxes. Basically, after a mini raise 3 months in I was making 28k a year, ASSUMING I was to get all of my quarterly bonuses. (my raise/promotion was to be up to 4000 a month, which was a: double what my current salary was, and b: the going rate of an Asst. Head at that time.)
The funny part? It was expected for Sr. Instructors to constantly offer to buy the higher ranking instructors lunch, drinks from 7-11, coffee in the morning, etc. It was part of the "respect" that was to be shown. And if a Higher Ranking Instructor offered to buy YOU something for lunch or a gatorade, it was an EXTREMELY HIGH HONOR as it did not happen nearly that often! How AWESOME IS THAT?! I MEAN REALLY... THINK ABOUT IT.
Oh, btw, who here has already figured out that i was making $7.12 an hour after taxes when I was on my "higher salary"? Keep in mind I was really doing 70 hours a week, which means 140 hours a pay period, and LITERALLY 1k every two weeks after taxes. Yes... I was actually making more money part time than I ever was Full Time. And NOW I was expected to spend my less money on the higher instructors!
In all fairness... we were told that if we kept all of our receipts for food and other such "reimburseables" and submitted them at then end of the quarter, we would get it added on to our bonus check, provided we got one. Now.. here's the thing. I'm doing God knows what in that school 12+hours a day 5+ days a week. I had UnGodly demands on how quick I was to answer the phone, give tours of the school, teach the introductory courses JUST RIGHT to get more money, and teach little Johnny Goodkid the lesson of his life... Do you REALLY believe at 19 I cared about where my receipts went for a 5.00 worth of gatorade? I SHOULD HAVE, YES! But I think it's quite understandable how something like receipts were the last thing on my mind.
I know I said I would give you numbers today, but I am kinda lying. I do have an exact amount as to how much was made 3rd Quarter 2002, but I want to wait. I've written a lot today, as you can clearly see. But the number I have is from a letter. In fact THE letter. The only letter that I have kept this long from anyone, as it is the only letter that means so much to me. I will transcribe it in it's entirety tomorrow, but you def. need the backstory. I think by now you all trust my judgement on what is good and juicy, so have more faith. No, I will not ask you to drink the koolaid. I don't want your first born, or for you to wait til I ask you to sit three times until you actually do it! JUst hand tight. Enjoy the story so far, and I'll be back tomorrow with ...
THE GREATEST LETTER EVER WRITTEN
P.S. HMR, I'm sure I know you. If you can, post message me after I'm at 10 or send me your email. I'd love to catch up with you, because if your on here, your most likely someone I got a long with really well. Also. Beka anyone?! Bokfutopgrapher... Hell.. UnderCoverBrother.. .Anyone actually. Feel free to pm. Thanks guys!
Bravo!!!!! Every word is true..
I really liked your interpretation of what it meant to be a senior instructor (the who fucked who that day)..ain't that the truth..ROTFLMAO
Wow, I am at a complete loss how noone firebombed this school. These working conditions sound extremely illegal.
To add to mrradley post..from a former student, regarding the money side of things. The last time I purchased lessons was in early 2005, and I paid $5500..yah, I kid you not..I bought the highest available amount which was 100 or something and got a discount for paying it in a lump sum (stupid, stupid, stupid)..
You burned through this amount quickly as you "needed" to take more than one full hour lesson to prepare for your dan tests.
Sure I could go to unlimited lessons and I did, at one point I practically lived there. I just loved working out! That's the only positive side I retain to this day. I was in the best shape of my life while there. But the BS that went on behind the scenes was just not tolerable at some point. My friend left shortly after the 2005 tournament. I don't even want to call it such, It was a joke. rigged from beginning to end and it just felt ridiculous for us "older" folks to be competing with kids. I followed suit shortly after my green belt test.
Last edited by HRMERoar; 6/15/2007 11:54pm at .
Originally Posted by HRMERoar
I don't think your stupid. I understand the situation you were in. I know a lot of people reading this may question all of the logic none of us had at a point in time. That isn't me though, because I was metaphorically one of the people (at one point) who made you renew for more lessons.
I think, all things considered, you did the right thing with the lump sum. Short of quitting (which you clearly did at some point, and by doing so earned your West Wind Black Belt imo), paying in fullto get the discount was the smartest thing one could do. I hope you didn't go completely broke by doing so, but to put it simply: I feel ya brotha!
does west wind still operate like this if they do can't something be done legally because it just doesn't sound right at all
They still operate like this. It wasn't always this way, the downward spiral began around 2002 when the C.O.R.E was founded. The hub of the evil empire called West Wind. At least I think it was 2002. Anyway, it started soon after I got my orange belt, which took maybe 5 month from when I started in 2001.
Originally Posted by Zoso4
They have locations in Berkeley and Alameda, both decked out with lotsa cash and more then willing parents doting on their children. They feel they're given the kids the best thing and in a way they are right. West Wind has a way of sucking you in, it worked for me in the beginning too. Very quickly did I see through the system, it's hard to leave something you love tho and I made good friends.
I know someone who took them to court, actually several people...unsucessfully, they have excellent legal representation (that's probably were some of my hard earned cash went to, so in a way it's like screwing yourself..lol) and always pulled out the most snowed, err devoted students to attest to that.
I left a lot of money on the table when I quit, still had lessons left from my previous contract and barely tapped into the new one..I just wanted out at that point.
I know I'll never see that cash again and that's fine. However it's that cult like behavior that is really worrying me. I am still in touch with one person to this date, were good friends. It was interesting to see tho how many others stopped talking to us when we left, they simply broke off contact like cult members would do. It sounds crazy, but you have to have seen it to believe it.
Last edited by HRMERoar; 6/16/2007 12:56pm at .
Yes, West Wind still operates. And yes, it's similar to everything I'm saying. When I was there they had set contracts like I previously mentioned. Those, in the amount they were, were actually illegal. In CA there is a law that no club/sport/hobby group can charge more than $1,000 at once. It has to do with back in the day the ballroom dancing school that would hose the elderly for all of their money. I'm sure you guys have heard of what I"m talking about. And that's the reason for the law. WW USED to follow that. That's why like every 2 months or so you were being hit up for a new contract. Finally they got tired of it and set up the big ones I talked about here, and HMR mentioned too.
Originally Posted by Zoso4
Legally then, it was complicated come to find out. Shortly after I left in October 02, a rather large group of students and recently blackballed instructors met with a lawyer (myself included) discussing a class action lawsuit. From what I remember the guy saying: Of all the issues we all had, the only one that we may have a lawsuit over was the contract, but it would take a long time to set up the lawsuit, blah blah blah.... Basically, the lawyer wasn't that good. He was nice and all, but it just seemed like he was doing one of the old students a favor (which turned out.. he was).
Today they have somewhat open contracts. They're more similar to a month to month, and I think somehow makes it more legal to ask for the amounts of money they are. I didn't stay around long at all on my return journey, which again will be added to this thread. But for sure the contracts were different. And because I was well liked until I quit, when I came back it was viewed as "submissoin" on my part, so I was well liked again, and got a really good deal on my lessons.
I just woke up so I'm going to go eat something real quick. When I come back I think it's time for the letter story. I assure you, it'll knock your socks off.
The GREATEST Letter Ever Written
So here it is. The one shining moment I've built up like I used to build up the instructors I've talked about here. You need a little bit of backstory to fully appreciate this letter so here it is:
When I was full time I went back to Berkeley for about 6 months or so. I liked it but things were just rough in general. August there was an open spot for a full timer in Alameda so I went back. Of course I got the whole "you need work" speech and how I was "so much better at Alameda". That was probably partly true at this point, because I really didn't give a **** for one. Two: there were some "things" that happened during july and part of August that really left a bad taste in my mouth for Berkeley and the whole higher ups in general. That is going to have to be another thread entirely.
But point is when I went back to Alameda, I got to see a lot of the students I really liked there again, and had a blast... for about 2 days. After that, the smugness of other instructors who were now full time, mixed with my clear ability to not only see past the bullshit but ... alright. Have we all seen Harold and Kumar? Remember Anthony Anderson? The guy who said the famous line "Lets burn this mothafucka down!" and then went crazy? That was me at this point. I didn't care. Had like TWO instructors (out of 9 or 10 there) I could talk to and they were both part time.
So one day after the biggest sleezballery I had seen up to this point happened, I stayed after this birthday party we had for a Red Belt and talked to one of the people I could. Told her I was goign to quit, and basically just went on a huge rant. Well TOMMAY! and his right hand man RAYRAY drive by and see us talking. At that point I said **** it and walked back to the now closed school.. put my red belt on the table, and locked up.
I called RAYRAY at about 1 in the morning (this was one of those late nights I was talking about. THe ones where it was 11:15 before we left). Told him I quit (another story, as I ended up in my car all night with a shotgun waiting for him to follow through with some of his words.) and had a meeting the next day to sign my termination contract.
I go and have this "we're gonna break you down buddy" talk for two hours. (another story. Look. The thing in Berkeley, the sleezballery in Alameda, the phone call and meeting will all be one story. That all flows better together than it does with this, because really the letter is the point of this whole post right now.) Sign my paperwork, and I'm out. Get told my last check and bonus check will be in the mail....
And they were. With the following letter:
October 4th,, 2002
Dear Mr. Radley,
First, a long overdue thank you for the embarrassment of riches I received on the day of my birthday; a complete gold Montblanc set from my right and left hand assistants, the highly executive laptop computer from the full time crew, the intricate bonsai from the assistant instructors, the work-of-art-cake, and the deluge of cards well wishes-all simply overwhelming.
Secondly, a more timely congratulations on the all-time record quarter for West-Wind Schools, $432,147.00! Please enjoy this well-earned bonus check.
Finally, of course, I am saddened to hear you quit your teaching career and pursuit of the Bok-Fu Black Belt.
Wishing you all the best in the arts and life,
Now I've typed this letter in its entirety, complete with typos that are on my master I do in fact have FRAMED and hanging on my wall. Why would I do this? Because that's how much they really thought of me, and I keep it as a reminder...
I was in line to become an Asst. Head Instructor, and the grief they felt from some up and coming star leaving their system was resorted to a fucking sentence that I assure you is only on my letter.
In normal speak the letter reads like this: "What's going on peons?! Just wanted to say thanks for the shitload of presents you dumbasses bought me. I know you spent a lot of the money you were planning to use on yourself, on me, and I think that's the way it should be. I mean I'm paying you to get the money back... DUH!
Also look how much money we made with YOU GUYS doing EXACTLY what I say! LOOK! Almost HALF A MILLION DOLLARS in only 3 MONTHS! MAN! Your raping skills are even impressing me! Here's 50k extra spread amongst the 30 of you. Enjoy it. YOu earned it kiddos ;-)
Oh btw Radley, you suck. You quit making me money, and worse yet you quit spending your money on me. **** you, but your more than welcome to come back to the machine when your ready... Later DOUCHE HEADS!"
That's about right, isn't it?
There are so many things wrong with that letter it it's gone past funny. stopped at sad, then hit UBER funny.
People from the school will feel my pain most likely on the half million they spent and the loving sentence I got over me quitting. Everyone else will probably be upset with the entirety. I'm gonna let that one sink in for a bit and I'll be back to answer any questions.