Mrs. Wang-Ka: Master Criminal

So, my wife lost her job recently. Why? A combination of factors, including budget cutbacks (something like ten people got canned) and the fact that the new boss didn’t much like her.

Drag, certainly. But so it goes.

And then someone asked me if she’d been canned because of her arrest.

I said “What?”

“Her arrest.”

“Start making sense, please.”

“She was arrested for drunken driving.”

“Beg pardon?”

“It’s in the paper. She was picked up yesterday for drunken driving by the local cops.”

Now this was nuts. The previous day, she’d come to work, she’d come home, same as any other day. And certainly she’d have told me if she’d been arrested, and what the hell would she have been doing drinking? She’s a schoolteacher, for potato’s sake! Admittedly, the stresses of our fair profession do produce a lush or two, but I think I’d have noticed if my wife was one, and I said so.

My coworker smirked at me and advised me to check into it. So I did. Went to the library, checked yesterday’s paper.

Sure enough, Jane Doe, 50, of Ecksville, had been picked up the previous day for drunk driving, theft by check of over $200, and failure-to-appear warrants.

I laughed. MY Jane Doe is way younger and doesn’t live in Ecksville, ten miles away; she lives right here in town! Wow, imagine that! Same name! And in the same general locality! Ha!

…and I said as much the next day to my coworker.

Coworker smirks. “That’s not what I heard. I heard she was fired for bein’ a crook.”

Now, perhaps I was a bit harsh. My wife’s been out of sorts for a while, now, having lost her job and all (although her contract has her still working through the end of the school year), but I submit it ain’t a smart move to call a man’s wife a crook to his face. Particularly if you’re wrong, and have no evidence to support your claim. At any rate, I was feeling a bit stressed.

“Check it with the cops if you don’t believe me,” I said. “Besides, how could she be here for work today if she was in jail?”

“Well, you could have bailed her out.”

“I didn’t. Didn’t have to. Wrong Jane Doe.”

“That’s not what I hear–”

I interrupted. “Then whoever you heard it from is a damn filthy liar,” I said, “and you’re a goddamned idiot for believing it when you could easily check the facts for yourself. But you don’t WANT to check the facts, do you? More fun to believe lies? Nice juicy gossip? Well, suit yourself. Believe whatever you like.”

(step forward, deliberately invade coworker’s physical space.)

“… But if I find that you’ve been spreading lies about my wife, and you’re stupid enough to make sure I can prove it, then lawyers are going to be the least of your worries.”

And I took a hike. My voice had been calm enough, but I really did feel like hitting someone, and that’s not a good idea in a public high school. Time to cool off, have a break, whatever. I wasn’t real proud of my behavior, but at least now, the woman might well investigate the situation before opening her big stupid mouth again. And if not, and she decided to blab further, well, last I heard, slander was a lawsuitable offense, and when one is a teacher, one’s reputation is a bankable asset. Smear it at your own risk.

I haven’t had anything like that happen to me since grade school. Man, what is it about people, that they’d rather believe crap than truth, out of sheer maliciousness?

Allovasudden, I think I understand the idea of “propaganda” a little better today.
Tell people what they wanna hear, and they’ll dive through hoops to believe you…

What a bunch of idiots and assholes people can be. Bad enough she’s losing her job without people spreading crap like that.

Please tell me that this coworker isn’t also a teacher. Because that’s just scary, that she could actually read the facts in the paper herself and either ignore them or get them so badly wrong. And then be so maliciously happy about it. I can only imagine what she’d do if she heard something about one of her students.

Yup, she’s a teacher. One who isn’t particularly popular with her students, I’m told, but is firmly plugged into her clique of other teachers. Couldn’t say anything about her popularity or credibility with them.

Teachers aren’t saints. And when you get a vicious one, well… let’s just say I can’t see what some people contribute to the cause of education. I’ve never seen where “making people hate you” contributes in any way to teaching them anything, but there are those who disagree.

That’s always flummoxed me as well.
I suppose you could whip up a theory about how it makes them feel all smug and superior and combine it with a dash of the old maxim that nasty gossip is far more interesting than learning that Mrs.Wang-Ka is a pillar of local society and a girl scout leader.

Or you could just accept that some people are jerks and would benefit from periodic public floggings.

My dear wife, after hearing about the incident in question, pointed out that she might well boil this down to–

Some people, y’know?

You might consider reporting the incident to your principal and getting it on the record so that there is less of a chance of her being able to distort the truth later. You also might want to consider a pre-emptive strike and contact an attorney and get a cease and desist order slapped on her (if that’s even possible at this point).

Sorry to hear about Mrs. Wang-Ka’s job. I hope she finds work soon.

What a horrible woman!
I could maybe understand the initial question. Maybe. (I think it’s horribly rude, and only acceptable if she had approached the whole issue as a joke knowing full well it wasn’t your wife, just someone of the same name)
But to continue to insist that it was your wife who was arrested after you explained the coincidence defies rational explanation.
It alarms me that she might have some hand in shaping the minds of our youth.

Excellent rant, but I have a small quibble with one of your statements.


You are her husband, and you are supposed to defend your wife’s honor. You didn’t actually hit the dick, which would have been well deserved but would ultimately cause more problems than it would solve. Letting him know the abysmal stupidity of his behavior and revealing the depth of your outrage was the right thing to do.

Master Wang- Ka my advice is to avoid all contact with your asshole co-worker, talk to the principal like Shayna suggested, and either you or you wife write a letter to HR and the union rep detailing the incident. I’d also think about writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper that could clear-up the confusion any readers might have about your non-lushy wife. Don’t name names but something like “It has come to my attention that…” I know you could do an excellent job that would have the public chuckling and indignant over the incident at the same time.

GKW, I agree with almost everything your said, except for the part about a letter to the editor. Given that people can be stupid and mean spirited, some might read it and still get the two Jane Does mixed up. And it could have the flavor of “methinks he doth protest too much.” And the real Jane Doe might not be happy to have her name out there again in connection with this story. Not that I care all that much about the feelings of a person who drives drunk, but they might come and find you, Mr. Jane Doe, to express their displeasure.

The coworker in question was female. This is pretty much irrelevant, but was another reason among many that I thought decking her would be a bad idea.

The principal in question IS the boss who didn’t much care for her and has canned her. The decisions as to who, precisely, to can were left up to him. Why, I’m not sure, since the school board hates him, the parents hate him, and he took a job in another town after only one year here, and is simply working out his contract, hatcheting people due to budget cuts.

I would not have given him this power; he came in on his first day treating his staff like the enemy and the kids like the dust beneath his feet, which is why he isn’t popular with teachers, parents, school board, or much of anyone in the district on his level or below. But the superintendent likes him fine, and now ten teachers are without jobs. No one has been smeared; all were given the opportunity to “resign”… although it was implied that smearing could occur if resignations were not tendered. Basically, the school is attempting to NOT have to declare financial hardship, which would allow it to simply fire teachers for no reason at all other than that we cannot afford them.

Some are fighting this, by way of their various unions and advocacy groups; others are simply lamming out. My wife and I are among the latter, although I was not fired. The fact that I wasn’t but my wife was kind of implies that he had other enemies to nail, you know?

But perhaps I’m wrong. At any rate, the idea of attempting to plead any kind of reasoned case with this clown does not appeal to me.

I think I could have phrased my statement better, as far as “coworker” goes. But, then, I find profanity rather suits me on occasion, and I was provoked. I mean, what kind of person over fourteen stands there and repeats, over and over, "That’s not what I heard. That’s not what I heard. That’s not what I heard… "


I must say that you have much better control over your temper than I do over mine.

I got extremely angry on your behalf just reading about it, and if something like that happened to me I would have been positively enraged.

I second the suggestions to avoid both your idiot coworker and Bonzo the Principal as much as possible.


I missed that bit.

Never mind.

I hear that. Only five more weeks of school, anyway.

Oh… and I work with teenagers, Exgineer. Think about that. And for a decade before that, I worked with behavior-disordered teenagers in a locked facility.

Hanging onto my temper in the face of rightful provocation’s kind of gotten to be a habit. Even when, perhaps, it shouldn’t be.

TP her house. They’ll never suspect you.

Master Wang-Ka, even if you don’t think the principal will do anything with the information, I think it’s still important to document the incident. Write a letter detailing the conversation in as bland and unaccusatory language as possible and copy anyone of relevance, including the superintendant and your union rep. Don’t ask for any action to be taken, just be clear that you want them to be aware that it happened.

Document, document, document. And something else to ponder…in incidents like this, the one who speaks up first is the one who usually gets greater credibility. If this teacher decides to make a complaint for you cursing at her (or whatever), the fact that you reported the incident first will go a long way for a positive outcome for you.

Master Wang-Ka Go to an attorney, and see what can be done to prevent this slandering. Good Luck.

Oh. Well, that certainly explains it.

I work with (mostly) professional adults who act accordingly, and my biggest headache is the occasional windbag who needlessly prolongs meetings. I guess, now that I think about it, that a general lack of nasty confrontation has shortened my fuse, because I don’t need a longer one. Sort of atrophy of temper control. Imagine that.

What in hell is it about your threads that make me get all introspective, anyway?

I thought I worked with professional adults, too. And teenagers, who act about like you’d expect them to act.

Weirdly enough, the teeners have been remarkably supportive. My wife was a very popular teacher, and the principal is universally hated, so the kids are firmly on HER side about all this.

…but aside from a few teachers my wife was chummy with, most of the faculty has begun treating us both like we’ve got the plague. I’d wondered why. Now, I suspect I know.

My wife did launch a mass email through the school’s server, pointing out the difference between herself and the woman in jail, and archly invited anyone to check out the details for themselves. She’s looking at the situation with much more of a sense of humor than I am. Then again, nobody came up to HER face and called ‘er a friggin’ crook, either. Grr.

Union rep? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Good one. This is Texas, where “union” is a dirty word. There are no union reps, no ombudsmen. There are teacher advocacy outfits, which provide the same services, though, but given the situation – one teacher’s word against another – I am told there’s very little to be done about it. Somehow, I don’t see the chance of gaining much, considering all she did was call my wife a crook, and all I did was growl at her and use the word “goddamn.” Frankly, I’m really not willing to turn this into a paperwork war. I’m outta here at the end of the semester, anyway. Fuck 'em.

Just gripin’ that a perfectly good teacher is losing her job, whereas this busybody slanderin’ bitch is keepin’ hers, that’s all…